The new owners of Brighton Hippodrome have been told they must restore the building or face a hefty fine – but have been given a grace period to do the work.
Brighton and Hove City Council was already in the process of issuing the order when the Grade II* listed theatre was sold to Matsim last Friday.
Last night (Thursday, 24 September), member of the council’s Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee decided to rubberstamp the notice.
But after hearing that work is already underway, they agreed to give Matsim time to make the repairs before enforcing it.
City council planning team leader for heritage and projects, Tim Jefferies, confirmed during the virtual meeting on Thursday 24 September, he had been inside the building, and much of the work is still required.
Work carried out by the previous owners, Hipp Investments, includes temporary roof repairs, guttering clearance and removing a pigeon infestation.
Essential work covered by the notice includes weatherproofing the fly tower, dealing with water in the basement and flooding of an internal courtyard.
The Hippodrome has been empty since 2007. It is on Historic England’s At-Risk Register and tops the Theatre’s Trust Theatres At Risk list.
If Matsim does not carry out the urgent work, then Mr Jefferies confirmed the council would do it.
In those circumstances, the council would attempt to recover the costs from the owner. Historic England has offered to underwrite 80 per cent of the potential £50-75,000 cost should the money not be recoverable.
He said: “The authority notice will be there should it prove necessary.
“Although I am optimistic, noting the work has started, it won’t be necessary.”
He said the notice is the last resort, and the authority would be using its discretion.
Conservative councillor Robert Nemeth asked for a formal two-week grace period for the new owners, but this was rejected by committee co-chair Green councillor Marianna Ebel, as it was already implied.
Once discretion was confirmed the committee unanimously agreed to allow officers to issue the notice if necessary.
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