Sussex

Brighton Hippodrome cinema plans declared incomplete

Elephants outside the Brighton Hippodrome Image copyright Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton & Hove
Image caption The building closed as a circus in 1902 and reopened as a theatre the following year

Planners say they need more detailed proposals on turning the Grade II-listed Brighton Hippodrome into a cinema before a decision can be made on its future.

The proposal, submitted to the city council on 20 December, would see the theatre turned into a £35m eight-screen Vue cinema and four restaurants.

Hundreds of people want the building to remain a live performance venue.

Council planners said more detailed plans were needed as it was listed.

They also said that no documents had been received to accompany the application.

Alaska Development Consultants, which is behind the scheme, said the proposals would see the main auditorium fully restored, with a restaurant below the dome.

Hippodrome House and the foyer areas would be turned into restaurant spaces.

The now derelict building began life as an ice rink in 1897 before becoming a circus, which closed in 1902.

It reopened as a theatre the following year.

In 1967 it was transformed into bingo hall, which it served as until 2006.

'Fantastic old building'

Chris Moore, Alaska's development manager, said all the required information had now been sent to the planning department.

He said: "The proposed development will not only safeguard the future of a fantastic old building for many generations to come, but also enhance the significant cultural and entertainment offer in this vibrant city".

A petition started in October to keep it as a theatre was signed by more than 1,000 people.

Opponents to the plans include the Theatres Trust, which named the hippodrome as one of the UK's top theatres at risk from being lost as a performance space.

Trustee Penelope Keith said: "Plans for the cinema conversion come close to heritage destruction of a Grade II* listed building and there will be little chance of this wonderful theatre ever being used again for live performance."

Image copyright Alaska Development Consultants
Image caption The proposals would see the theatre turned into an eight-screen cinema run and four restaurants

Labour councillor Adrian Morris, who has been campaigning to keep the theatre as a performance space, said: "This is the most disgraceful piece of planning and it's been hidden from the public.

"The council has been having private conversations with the developers - this should not be pushed through."

A spokeswoman from Brighton and Hove City Council said: "The application is invalid and we look forwarding to receiving all the information to make it valid.

"Once we have everything we will upload all the submitted information, commence our publicity of the application, so that anybody who wishes to make a comment can do so.

"We look forward to receiving comments once it is valid and to completing an assessment of the submitted application."

She said that the applicant had acted "in accordance with best practice".

The plans are due to be discussed at a council committee meeting on Thursday.

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