Family firm from Brighton buys Hippodrome

Posted On 18 Sep 2020 at 12:01 am

The Hippodrome. Image from Google Streetview

A family firm from Brighton has bought the Hippodrome and pledged to save the Victorian building from further decay.

The deal was sealed late yesterday (Thursday 17 September) with the Lambor family, who run Matsim Properties, completing the purchase for an undisclosed sum.

The family, who have been involved in the Brighton and Hove property scene for many years, bought the grade II* listed building from Hippodrome Investments.

The business, also known as Hipp Investments – or just Hipp – is a Guernsey-registered company run by Aizen Sheikh and his brothers.

They bought the building, in Middle Street, Brighton, three years ago but were facing pressure to make more significant repairs than they have managed so far.

As locals, the new owners are acutely aware of the affection that many people have for the Hippodrome – and the extent of the task ahead of them.

They already have specialists on standby to start work on stabilising the building. Their priorities include repairs to the roof as well as removing asbestos and tackling dry rot. The initial work is expected to cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.

A family representative said: “As a local family firm of developers, we have been saddened to see the decay of the Hippodrome in the heart of the city.

“This unique building is obviously a very sensitive venue in the city and has a long history of neglect.

“We felt that one more winter of water penetration and further spread of the dry rot would probably result in its loss forever, without a major expense from Brighton and Hove City Council.

“There have been several developers over the past 13 years who have had various ideas and plans for the buildings.

“But, unfortunately, they have totally ignored the fabric of the building which is now in an appalling state.

“We have therefore bought the Hippodrome and our first priority is to save the building from further deterioration and decay.

“In that respect, we are immediately starting work to cure the problems of water getting in, remove the asbestos, strip out the many areas of dry rot, open up the windows to get proper ventilation and remove the excessive rubbish that has accumulated, allowing the building to breathe.

“While not essential immediately, we also propose to redecorate the front elevation which has been very badly vandalised over recent years.

“We naturally hope that this will prevent further vandalism and deterioration while we establish a future for the building.

“We will begin a process of assessment, both in terms of what is required to restore the auditorium and what would be the most attractive and viable use for the site, bearing in mind the extensive works required.

“Fundamentally though, we feel that a use should be found that will ensure that the auditorium is restored and made accessible to all, while fitting within a viable scheme.

“We appreciate the sensitivity of this building and hope that we can bring the city on board with a scheme as it develops.”

The building, most recently a Mecca bingo hall, has been disused since 2007.

  1. saveHOVE Reply

    Oh no…

    Can anyone point to a single good development from these people?

    Their ownership of a lot of the Ellen St and Conway St Hove enclosed area below Hove Station & adjacent the bus depot over a good ten years saw a wild 2012 scheme created but never submitted as a planning application (2012).

    Years of phaffing about with hairbrained schemes for the warehouse shed behind Livingstone Hse followed. Then they sold it on building nothing.

    They put metal cladding (like Grenfell) on a two story bldg – Agora; and that’s their sole achievement in that set of holdings nr Hove Station.

    I fear this will finish the Hippodrome, not save it.

  2. Renia SImmonds Reply

    That’s very unfair. You were quite supportive of parts of their Ellen Street proposals. It was the council which put the boot in with their excessive and changing demands. The Agora cladding is not the same sort of cladding as Grenfell so that is irrelevant. If you think you could do better with The Hippodrome, then find a backer and make your own suggestions.

    • saveHOVE Reply

      Any reason why you cd not use your real name here? I have never met or had any dealings with anyone using this name. I was shown the 2012 plans by Andy Lambor & his architect, Nick Lomax; and had later contact with Craig Ritchie – nobody else!

      A massive, multi- million plan grandiose scheme was put together WITHOUT PRE-PLANNING ADVICE & when MATSIM was about to submit an application many months later, the Planning Dept burst their balloon.

      Craig Ritchie addressed a meeting of 75 people (I had raised with Mike Gibson when we were starting up a neighbourhood plan Forum at the same time). Craig’s exact words were “We have downed tools”. BHCC had made it clear their proposal could not fly or required action or expense they maybe had not anticipated or perhaps did not know was legally required (?) & the project never became a planning application & no replacement plan was created to use the entire huge area so carefully acquired, one bldg at a time.

      The lovely 10 yr old plane trees planted in Ethel St by BHCC to end van & derelict car parking were destroyed by MATSIM as a variety of plans were floated & abandoned to replace the vacated Furniture Village storage shed. This included a huge 18 storey complex which was abandoned & the site sold on with consent achieved on Appeal.

      Years & years of not getting their act together & wasted ownership of an area in need of retrieval from the disastrous 1960’s demolitions & ruinous access/egress removals…and now MATSIM have moved on…to the Hippodrome site.

      Why would anyone NOT have major fears & misgivings about what their ownership is likely to involve?

      • Renia SImmonds Reply

        I have used my real name. I do not work for Matsim so there is no reason why we would have met. Neither do you work for Matsim, the council or any other relevant agency, which means you do not have all the facts. One thing you can be congratulated on is that your campaign to Save Hove has worked in that the Hove Station / Ellen Street area remains just as it was. A mess. No redevelopment took place. No new housing was built. No new businesses were started up and no new jobs were created. That’s actually rather sad.

  3. Matsim Reply

    Dear Valerie – sorry, saveHOVE – for too many years we have ignored your comments – those of an amateur sitting in her home with nothing better to do.

    With regards Ellen Street – we have spent some 10 years trying to bring forward the development of an underused large area around Hove Station – Matsim led the way and had many years trying to bring forward development. If the scheme had been approved we had a JV partner lined up to build it out. Despite a lot of local support it was refused and an appeal was necessary and the market moved on. We won the Appeal and as we aren’t large scale builders it became necessary to sell the site. We would like to think that our drive and tenacity has driven the desire to see this area improved.

    The ‘metal cladding’ on the Agora was some 15 years ago and was a significant improvement on the 60’s abomination that existed – just look at Industrial House behind (the same development) which is a detriment to the area. The association with Grenfell House is a disgrace as we have used rockwool insulation in all our developments which is not inflammable.

    With regards developments we have been involved in many others that have improved the aesthetics of the City. The façade of the Queens Head outside Brighton station received personal praise from the Chief Executive of the City. Do we really need to list them out and make comment for your benefit?

  4. Tom Dussek Reply

    I’m really pleased that a positive future is there for the Hippodrome, and I’m right behind these new owners for as long as they have the best interests of the building at heart. (So let’s hope that’s a long, long time)

  5. Rob Arbery Reply

    In a year which we all really just want to forget – some good news. I worked the the Hipp for 17 years until it’s closure in August 2006 – it desperately needs some repairs otherwise it will be beyond saving. It holds are real affection within our household and I wish the new owners the best of luck – I can’t wait to go inside again one day!

  6. Stevo Reply

    Some good news
    Only saw once from the inside and it’s a great place

  7. Paul Godden Reply

    Brighton is crying out for a premium arts venue. Suitable for large scale exhibitions. With a cafe and space to hold events and concerts this would be a ideal space.

  8. Richard M Reply

    This is great news – I’m so pleased that this iconic venue will get some much needed TLC! Especially in removing the appalling graffiti from the facade. Will really brighten up Middle Street!

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