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Theatres Trust media release
19 September 2014

The Theatres Trust is deeply disappointed by the Government’s announcement today that a Public Inquiry will not be held into the redevelopment scheme proposed for Brighton Hippodrome.

Brandon Lewis MP, the Minister of State for Housing and Planning, has rejected The Theatres Trust’s request for call-in, and a 2,738-strong online petition, to the planning and listed building applications. The plans involve subdividing the Grade II* listed circus / variety theatre into an eight screen cinema and restaurant, as well as construction on the rear yard, preventing access to the Hippodrome theatre’s get-in.

Mhora Samuel, Director of The Theatres Trust said: “Brighton and the Hippodrome have been let down by this decision. Unless the developers reconsider their scheme we will have lost the potential to stage lyric theatre and performance in the Hippodrome’s unique theatrical space. It could have been a real asset to Brighton’s cultural scene.

“We accept the Minister’s decision, and recognise that the applications will now be left to Brighton and Hove City Council to determine. However, we have always believed that the applications raised issues of national significance, given that the Hippodrome is a Grade II* listed building and a very rare national example of a circus / variety theatre.”

Mark Price, the Trust’s Theatres at Risk Adviser maintains “We will continue to work hard to demonstrate the importance and value of our most vulnerable theatre buildings and work with all organisations, including developers, local authorities and communities, to secure a better future for theatres.

“National planning policy favours the sustainable reuse of listed buildings as cultural facilities to promote economic growth and cultural well-being. Call-in would have confirmed the Government’s commitment to protecting Grade II* buildings and theatres as heritage assets for the nation. This decision demonstrates that we need to do much more to step up our work and raise awareness of the value theatres bring to the economic success and cultural vitality of towns and cities across the UK.”

The Theatres Trust has recognised the Brighton Hippodrome as an important ‘Sleeping Beauty’ for many years. When the lease became available back in 2007 the Trust worked with Live Nation to sensitively convert it into a live music venue, but this opportunity was lost as a result of Brighton and Hove City Council’s licensing policies. Had the call-in taken place it would have provided the opportunity to demonstrate that this unique theatre could have had a viable future as a performance venue.

The launch of The Theatres Trust’s Theatre Buildings at Risk Register yesterday in Brighton raised awareness of the Brighton Hippodrome and the other 33 theatres on the Register.

We will continue to work in a constructive spirit with Brighton and Hove City Council, KUIG Investments Limited, Alaska Development Consultants, Russ Drage Architects and Our Brighton Hippodrome to secure a fully reversible scheme which makes the reuse of the building as a theatre more likely.

On the 19 September 2014 the Secretary of State wrote: “In deciding whether to call-in the application, the Secretary of State has considered his policy on calling-in planning applications. This policy gives examples of the types of issues which may lead him to conclude, in his opinion that applications should be called-in. The Secretary of State has decided, having had regard to this policy, not to call-in the application. He is content that they should be determined by the local planning authority. The Article 25 Direction issued pursuant to the Secretary of State’s letter of 28th July 2014 is hereby withdrawn.”