A theatre of outstanding national importance


Asset of Community Value

This page has been retained for reference as part of the campaign.

We withdrew our nomination for an ACV when circumstances changed. In a move of enlightened self-interest, the new owners, Academy Music Group (AMG), voluntarily and rather generously offered us a six-month period to develop the business proposition for restoring the Hippodrome as a venue for live performance and events. As a result, we are now working with Brighton and Hove City Council and others.
      We could re-apply, should the need ever arise. However, we are carrying on with plans to acquire the freehold and for the restoration with a sympathetic approach by AMG to help us along.

Brighton and Hove City Council rejected our nomination to have the Hippodrome listed as an asset of community value.
      The reason: it has not contributed to the wellbeing or interest of the community in the 'recent past'. This is one of the tests for listing under the Localism Act. Unfortunately, the legislative drafters did not define what was meant by 'recent past'. The council agreed that the Hippodrome contributed to the social wellbeing of Brighton and Hove throughout its 110-year life but sloppy law-making leaves it to local authorities to make up their own definitions, which has not happened in this case.

Another test under the Act is that it can be sustained for five years following any restoration undertaken while it has ACV status. We have demonstrated that would happen.
      The Hippodrome has been so much a valued part of community life in Brighton and Hove for over a century that we think the council should have listed it officially as an ACV. Whilst it is true that it has not been in use for the past seven years, that is a short time in its history (six per cent).
      Our case that it would be sustainable for five years after restoration was not even considered because it 'failed' the 'recent times' test.
      We wrote in the introduction to our submission: 'The Hippodrome is a building of national importance, as signified by its English Heritage listing. We demonstrate that conversion to a cinema would offer little or no community value and would effectively prevent the building from ever being appreciated in its original form as an entertainment venue.'

When taking the Localism Act through parliament, ministers at the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) refused to define 'recent times', leaving it to local councils to make their own definition.

In Brighton and Hove, decisions about ACVs are delegated to council officers, thus bypassing (or avoiding?) a democratic vote. On DCLG's advice. we asked to see the guidelines provided by the elected members to the responsible officers about how to handle ACV nominations.
      The elected members, representing the community, have never provided any guidance, leaving it to officers to make policy. This is not as it should be.
      We have re-nominated the Hippodrome as an ACV. Our argument is be that the council has never defined how to interpret the Act, even though two ACVs have been granted, and that officers have therefore created ad hoc policy.
      As the owners—old and new—appear to be backing away from any development in the near future (if ever), listing the Hippodrome will provide a six-month moratorium on plans that are unlikely to happen anyway. The owner does not have to sell but listing it as an ACV would be a clear and important sign of the council's determination not to let the Hippodrome slip into terminal decay.

Don't forget: Once it's gone, it's gone. In the immortal words of Max Miller, 'There'll never be another!'

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Facebook Twitter Image: Middle Street in 1991 with some friends from the past