£18m Brighton Hippodrome restoration plans approved

Alaska Development Consultants, acting on behalf of Kuig and advised by Indigo Planning, has been given the go ahead by Brighton & Hove City Council for the restoration of the Brighton Hippodrome. Its proposals will bring the Grade II* listed, ‘at risk’ building back into use and secure its future as part of a wider £18 million regeneration project.

Originally constructed as an ice rink in 1897, the building was converted into a ‘hippodrome’ shortly afterwards. It became a theatre in 1901 – designed by renowned theatre architect Frank Matcham. Over the years it has hosted entertainers from Harry Houdini, Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin to The Beatles and Rolling Stones. Most recently in use as a bingo hall, it closed in 2006 and has since been identified by English Heritage and The Theatres Trust as a building ‘at risk’.

The proposals, designed by locally-based Russ Drage Architects and supported by English Heritage, include:

  • An eight screen Vue cinema discreetly housed beneath the floor of the Hippodrome dome and to the rear of the building – the site of the former Mecca Bingo
  • A new (removable) floor inserted at low level within the dome to create a stunning space for a signature restaurant
  • A second restaurant in the restored and refurbished Hippodrome House
  • A new public square just off Middle Street

In agreement with English Heritage, all important historic fabric will be retained. The entire enclosure to the Hippodrome auditorium as well as its Middle Street elevation and the Hippodrome House façade will be preserved and restored to their former glory.

The plans are designed to be sympathetic to the surrounding Conservation Area, with better streetscapes and public realm and more employment opportunities. The buildings’ energy efficiency will be improved, green walls and roofs incorporated and sustainable drainage put in place.

Chris Moore, Development Manager for Alaska Development Consultants, commented:

“Following an exhaustive and comprehensive period of design development and planning consultations, we are delighted to be finally in a position to complete what we started over two years ago. Our aim has always been to preserve, restore and enhance this magnificent old building and now, with Brighton & Hove Council’s consent, we can put our plans into action and bring this famous building back to life.”

Simon Neate, Chairman of Indigo Planning which advised on the full planning application and listed building application, said:

“These are sympathetic restoration plans that retain this wonderful building’s most important historic features and ensure that it is no longer at risk.

“Should there be a workable plan to bring it back into use as a theatre again one day these changes to the auditorium can be reversed, but in the meantime the new cinema and restaurants provide the commercial certainty that will safeguard the Hippodrome’s future and bring it back into use again.”