Plans to convert Brighton Hippodrome into a multi-screen cinema complex have been thrown into doubt after cinema chain Vue pulled out of the project.
A statement from Vue confirmed its withdrawal and said: “The scheme has been sold to another landlord who will not be redeveloping the site.”
Brighton and Hove City Council granted planning permission in July 2014  to turn the 1,400-seat hippodrome into an eight-screen cinema and restaurant complex, despite campaigns by local groups to retain the building as a live entertainment venue. 
David Fisher, campaign manager for the Our Brighton Hippodrome group said that recent developments represented a step in the right direction.
“We are currently trying to find out who the new owner is, but the important thing is that it means that the current planning application isn’t going ahead and a theatre ought to be a default option now.”
A spokesman for Brighton and Hove City Council said it was “disappointed” to hear of Vue’s decision to withdraw.
“We do not want anything to delay the redevelopment, which will repair, restore and re-occupy the most significant parts of the buildings,” he said.
The council also said it was “seeking urgent clarification” from the site’s owners following Vue’s comments, adding: “In terms of the planning permission that has been granted regarding the Hippodrome nothing has changed.”
The campaign to save the venue, which has been closed since 2007, recently attracted support from arts figures  including Alan Ayckbourn and Judi Dench who in December signed an open letter opposing the cinema plans.