The first plans for a redeveloped Brighton Hippodrome have been revealed, which include bringing the derelict building back to life as a “cultural mainstay for the city”.
Designs also include incorporating a new hotel and apartments on the site.
The grade II*-listed Hippodrome has been out of use for more than a decade and has topped the Theatres Trust’s list of most endangered venues for several years.
The former variety and circus theatre was taken over in 2017 by the newly created Hipp Investments, which bought the building from the Academy Music Group after plans to convert it into a cinema fell through.
Along with architects LCE, Hipp has unveiled the first designs for a renovation of the building, which includes restoring and refurbishing the theatre and creating a 74-room hotel and spa, and 26 apartments.
Aized Sheikh, chief executive of Hipp Investments, said: “The Hippodrome is an iconic building with an incredible past and, if left unchecked, will be lost to future generations who will never be able to appreciate its history and splendour. We hope to create a theatre that will become a cultural mainstay for the city for decades to come, in an area that is in dire need of regeneration. “A strategic plan for the refurbishment of theatre is being drawn up including timescales for a phased development programme. Ultimately, our vision is for the Hippodrome to be run as a non-profit entity by professionals who understand where it will sit among Brighton’s theatres.”
No further information on the size or format of the theatre has yet been announced by Hipp. However, it said it is in discussion with Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival regarding the “renovation, restoration and future management of the theatre”.
Hipp has also ordered a viability study of the theatre and its future potential. This follows a similar study in 2015, which concluded that the Hippodrome has a viable future as a performance venue, and suggested that restoration work could cost between £13 million and £30 million.
Two public consultations will be held in February, at which full details of the new plans will be announced.
Theatres Trust director Jon Morgan described the Hippodrome as the “UK’s most architecturally significant circus theatre – the finest surviving example of its type in the country”.
He added: “A viability study has shown it could have a future as large-scale theatre, which Brighton currently lacks. It is critical that any development of the site includes a fully funded restoration of the theatre which will preserve its capacity to function as a large scale venue for performance.,” Morgan said, adding that Brighton cannot currently present large-scale dance or theatre, meaning that the plans have potential to make it “an important and exciting addition to Brighton’s vibrant cultural scene,” he said.