The cornerstone of the city's cultural infrastructure
OBH and BHCC

 

     
The Council and the Hippodrome

We wish to stress that, however cricital we may have been about some of the actions and decisions of Brighton and Hove City Council (BHCC), we are now working in partnership with the council to protect and preserve the Hippodrome.
      We appreciate that planning laws constrain any council to a degree. Nonethless, we believe we are the best hope for saving the Hippodrome—a view we believe is now shared by the council and by Historic England.

'It is important that the city's existing cultural infrastructure (arts, performance and creation space) is protected and enhanced. ... Examples include the Old Market in Hove and the Hippodrome in Brighton. To maintain the potential for a wide variety of arts and cultural uses existing venues ... will be protected for their existing use or potential for such use. Proposals for change of use would need supporting documentation to demonstrate availability of adequate provision, equally as accessible by the community, elsewhere in the city.'
      —Local Development Framework Submission Plan Part One: CP5 Culture and Tourism, para 4:54

'Our heritage sites are vital for the city. We simply cannot allow them to deteriorate and, in the new economic reality, partnership between the public and private sector remains our best hope to secure their future.'
—Former councillor Geoffrey Bowden, quoted in The Argus, Tuesday 28 April 2015.
Council support for the Hippodrome project

At the Brighton and Hove City Council meeting on 21 July 2016, Councillor Leo Littman asked this question to the leader of the Council, Warren Morgan:

Whilst Chair of the Economic Development and Culture Committee; you said, in your Chair's Communications at the meeting on 18th June 2015:
      "A petition with over 5,300 signatures by Our Brighton Hippodrome is not being presented today. It asks the council to support plans for theatre restoration and to use all available powers and its best endeavours to facilitate such plans. I can confirm that we are now in positive discussions with Academy Music Group, the new owner of the Hippodrome, Hippodrome House and the access yard off Ship Street. We have agreed to join a stakeholders group with Our Brighton Hippodrome, Brighton Hippodrome CIC, The Theatres Trust, Historic England and the Frank Matcham Society. The stakeholder group will work with Academy Music Group to find the best way forward to bring the Hippodrome back to life. The council will assist in that process by sharing relevant information for an independent viability assessment."
      I note that since then, the independent viability assessment has been conducted and an agreement is being drawn up for the "enabling development" part of the project. In the light of this encouraging news, could Cllr Morgan please update me on the support we, as a Council, have given, and will be giving in the future, in order to ensure the stakeholder group is able to pursue their development plans and that we 'bring the Hippodrome back to life'?

Reply by Councillor Morgan, leader of the Council:

I can confirm that the council has continued to be represented on the stakeholder group and is supportive of the Hippodrome CIC's efforts to access funding streams to help restore this historic Grade II* listed building as a successful theatre and multi-event space. The council's assistance has recently included providing the CIC with written support in respect of its £3.6 million bid to secure funding from the Coastal Communities Fund for initial restoration work to preserve the fabric of the building. The outcome of this bid is currently awaited.
      Earlier in July officers from the council and Historic England met with the CIC and its appointed team to discuss their emerging plans. Obtaining the freehold interest is the key factor necessary to enable the CIC to move forward, as it would provide access to potential funding streams towards the building's restoration that would not be available to commercial bodies. The CIC's proposals are therefore dependent on its development partner securing a land [deal] with Academy Music Group, current owners of the site. Assuming that such a land deal is secured, the council is committed to hold regular meetings with the CIC in order to help facilitate progress wherever appropriate.

Officers are meeting with the Academy Music Group on 25 July and this will provide us with further information on the freeholder's considerations. Whatever the outcome of current negotiations between the CIC, its development partner and the Academy Music Group, the council will continue to play whatever role it reasonably can in helping to facilitate the restoration of this important building.

 

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Page updated 21 September 2016