Hippodrome owners set to be ordered to make urgent repairs

Posted On 16 Sep 2020 at 5:18 pm

The owner of the Brighton Hippodrome is set to be ordered to make urgent repairs to the crumbling theatre.

The grade II* listed building in Middle Street has stood for years while successive owners’ plans for it fell through.

It was last sold to Hippodrome Investments in the summer of 2017 but although ambitious plans to turn it into a hotel and luxury apartments were announced, these never progressed.

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In May this year, the daughter of Hippodrome Investments boss Aizen Sheikh posted on Facebook that it was being put up for sale.

But now Brighton and Hove councillors are being asked to approve an urgent works notice which would require the owners to make extensive repairs – or pay the cost of the council stepping in and doing so itself.

A report due to go before Brighton and Hove City Council’s Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee next week said: “The building suffers from a range of defects caused by long-term water ingress, lack of maintenance and prolonged vacancy.

“Council officers and Historic England last inspected the building on (Monday) 16 December 2019.

“Officers were able to see that some works had been carried out to the building following previous inspections, including temporary roof repairs over the auditorium, some gutter clearance, boarding of broken windows and removal of pigeon infestation and guano.

“However, the visit nevertheless confirmed that the condition of the building remained of serious concern.

“The owners were therefore requested to carry out a series of further more significant works, including works to address water ingress to the basement, fly tower and internal courtyard.”

The report said that Hipp informed them that the works were delayed because of lockdown. In June, Hipp was asked to produce an action plan and specialist reports into dry rot and the internal scaffolding, none of which has been received.

On Thursday 11 June, Hipp told the council that work would start within six weeks but, after hearing no more, the council sent the Guernsey-registered company a letter, on Tuesday 28 July, raising the prospect of an urgent works notice.

Hipp’s contractor wrote back to say that many of the works had been carried out but requests for a site visit have been met with no response.

The report said that Historic England had agreed in principle to underwrite up to 80 per cent of the repair costs, which the council would repay if those costs were recouped from the owner.

The report added: “The only other option would be to continue to seek the owner’s voluntary agreement to carry out the necessary works.

“However, officers are not confident that any further substantive works will be carried out in the absence of a formal notice.

“This risks a continued deterioration in the condition of the building and the loss of historic fabric and features.”

The work required to be carried out would be

  • Repairs to address condition of roofs and rainwater goods
  • Fly tower weather-proofing
  • Water ingress in basement
  • Flooding of internal courtyard
  • Dry rot survey and treatment
  • Removal of floor coverings, furniture and debris
  • Ventilation provision
  • New or altered scaffolding to better support fibrous plaster ceiling

Brighton Hippodrome is Britain’s most architecturally significant circus theatre — the finest surviving example of its type in the country.

It has been on the Theatres Trust’s Theatres at Risk Register since the list began in 2006.

  1. Greens Out Reply

    Shame these same councillors can’t send themselves a notice to prevent Madeira Terraces rotting beyond repair

  2. Gareth Reply

    Owners who allow listed premises to fall into decay should have their property confiscated. There are too many unscrupulous developers who would rather the listed building fall down. Leaving them able to develop the site as they wish.

  3. Rob Arbery Reply

    The problem here is an obsession to turn this back into a theatre. The Hippodrome has been many things a Circus, Ice Rink, Theatre, TV studio and Bingo Hall. Patch up repairs will not cut it long term – get this developed asap, using some of the space for property – the two top flats there already could easily become four and help fund the redevelopment.

  4. Eric Hamilton Reply

    It’s inconceivable that a building of such historic importance does not have a Grade 1 listing. The Hippodrome is the only one of its kind and it’s uniqueness should be saved and would be a huge asset as a multi purpose entertainment venue that would be able to accommodate the largest of productions and attractions that other venues in Brighton cannot take.
    Notwithstanding the present crisis, surely investment can be found to save and restore the Hippodrome albeit with today’s technology, to be a huge tourist attraction and a boost to the local economy while attracting the best of British and international artists and our unparalleled technicians and support personnel.

  5. Davide Reply

    Surely investment can be found? Like from a magic money tree. This building will go the same way as the west pier and the Madeira Drive arches. The council are great at blaming everyone else, yet in reality they are the cause of delays through incompetence and greed. Everyman and his dog at the council wants to have a say in what happens to the plans and they also want to have a big slice of the cake. Why should owners splash out cash to appease this lot. Same story with the i360. Private investment pulled out because the council got greedy….wasn’t that supposed to be a huge tourist attraction. It will never repay its debt..never ever! Anybody that buys it will be foolish as it will be in deadlocked talks and legal mumbo jumbo for years. There is no business case for this place. It’s dead in the water.

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