Brighton and Hove planners approve turning Hippodrome into multiplex cinema
Planning permission has been given to convert the Hippodrome in Brighton into an eight-screen cinema.
The site will also include four cafés or restaurants and a separate shop on the ground floor of a new three-storey office building.
While the old fly tower would be demolished, the applicant, Kuig Property Investments, has agreed to carry out restoration work to other parts of the inside and outside of the Hippodrome.
The decision was made by the Brighton and Hove City Council Planning Committee at Hove Town Hall this afternoon (Wednesday 16 July).
The Planning Committee also gave “listed building consent” but this decision could be called in by the Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles.
Thousands of people signed a petition objecting to the proposed changes to the grade II* listed building and more than 150 wrote letters of objection.
Many wanted the building returned to use as a theatre although the applicants pointed out that it hadn’t been a theatre since 1965 when it became a bingo hall.
Simon Neate, of Indigo Planning, spoke for the applicant. He pointed out that the Hippodrome was originally built as an ice rink and had also been used as a circus.
Mr Neate also said that no one had come up with a funded proposal to return the building to use as a theatre.
A council planning official said that restoration costs were estimated to be between £15 million and £18 million.
Mr Neate also said that the independent district valuer had assessed the cinema proposal and found it to be viable.
He also said that a cinema operator was ready in the wings to run the planned multiplex.
Planning official Adrian Smith said that he had met campaigners. They had not been able to show that they could raise the millions of pounds needed to turn the Hippodrome back into a theatre.
They had provided no costings, no business model and no evidence of being able to obtain funding.
Mr Smith said that the proposed cinema would be the use that would cause the least harm to the heritage.
Eight of the twelve members of the Planning Committee voted in favour of the plans.