Plans to transform the dilapidated Brighton Hippodrome have been given the green light.

Restoration of the 127-year-old Grade II* listed building was described as a “once in a lifetime opportunity” in Brighton and Hove City Council’s planning committee this afternoon.

The refurbished venue in Middle Street, Brighton, will feature a performance space, hotel, shop, bar and members’ club.

The main auditorium will be used for musical and theatrical performances, as well as events such as conferences, exhibitions, weddings, film screenings and hosting lectures.

Councillor Liz Loughran, chairwoman of the committee said: “The Hippodrome theatre is a superb historic building that has been shut for too long.

“The scheme that councillors have approved today will protect and restore its historic features and bring the Hippodrome back into use as another entertainment venue for the city.

“The developers will be bringing forward the restoration and I’m delighted that the committee has given their plans the green light.”  

The Argus: The Hippodrome will have a space for performances, as well as events such as conferences and weddingsThe Hippodrome will have a space for performances, as well as events such as conferences and weddings (Image: D Lethbridge)

The committee praised the developer Matsim for its "brave move" in saving the Hippodrome and said the work so far was a "labour of love".

The building firm had to revise previous planning applications due to concerns including moving the height of the proposal’s apart-hotel building from nine storeys to seven storeys.

Amendments to the scheme were received in November 2022 and again in February and March of 2023

Matsim director Simon Lambor previously told The Argus how the development risked going “back to square one” if planning permission was not given.

The Argus: People were previously invited into the Hippodrome to see the work done so farPeople were previously invited into the Hippodrome to see the work done so far (Image: The Argus)

He said despite £5 million of work to weather-proof the Hippodrome roof, there were still areas exposed to the weather which were being damaged every winter.

The decorative plasterwork in the auditorium will be restored with the retention of a number of historic fixtures and fittings. The ground floor of the venue will have a kitchen and bar areas within the auditorium.

A rehearsal performance space will be created on the mezzanine level above the stage’s fly tower. Additional ‘apart-hotel’ bedrooms will be created on the floor above.

There will also be a rooftop bar and roof terrace as part of the development.

The ground floor lobby of the auditorium will be converted to a bar restaurant opening onto Middle Street catering for around 100 diners indoors and outside, subject to permits being granted.

The Argus: The entrance to the auditoriumThe entrance to the auditorium

Tom Clarke, representing the Theatres Trust, said it did not object to the proposals but suggested deferring the planning application for slight revisions.

He said the Trust had concerns about limited space, insufficient space for toilets, areas for merchandising and the loading areas for lorries being inefficient.

The apart-hotel will be an extension around the rear and side of the auditorium, as well as infilling the rear car park to create a new three to seven-storey building which provides 62 rooms looking out onto Ship Street. There will be retail space on the ground floor.

Apart-hotels are apartments where you can stay for a short time and that offer services like a hotel - for example tea and coffee, food and drink, towels and cleaning services. The development of the apart-hotel would help support the restoration of the performance space, the council said.

The ground floor of Hippodrome House will be remodelled as a private members’ club with a bar, lounge areas and an outside terrace.