Hippodrome exterior

Hippodrome interior



From 1902 to 1964 Brighton Hippodrome was one of the most popular and most famous theatres in the country. It was a bingo hall from 1967 to 2006 and has survived 16 years of disuse, despite neglect by successive owners until recently.
      Since September 2020 it has had a new owner—the fourth since Brighton Hippodrome CIC (community interest company) was formed in 2015. Matsim Properties' efforts to repair and protect the building are all the more appreciated for being so long overdue.

The CIC has spent six years developing and proving the case for restoration as a theatre, working with the Theatres Trust and keeping Brighton & Hove City Council and Historic England up-to-date with our proposals along the way. Our plans can be seen here. They were submitted to BHCC and Historic England for pre-application assessment and were generally favourably reviewed. You can read the comments here.
      The CIC shared all its plans for the theatre with Matsim Properties and would be more than happy to provide its support to achieve a workable vision for the Hippodrome as a major venue.

Matsim has submitted planning and listed building consent applications for a scheme that is based on live entertainment, with bars in the main auditorium and a members' club on the ground floor of Hippodrome House, the Georgian northern section of the site. Two aparthotels are proposed, one in Hippodrome House and the larger one to be built on the service yard and the fly-tower would be fitted out with serviced offices.
      The applications and supporting documentation are here. There are two:
• the first is the listed building consent (LBC) application. The Hippodrome is listed Grade II* by Historic England.
That * —which, incidentally, is omitted in the applications—is important as it requires a much higher standard of evidence for proposed work on 'particularly important' buildings of 'more than special interest'.
• the second is the planning application for the proposed work.


      The applications and the ongoing PR effort focus on the offer of a major entertainment venue—promising 'major bands' among a list of potential uses—which has been accepted by BHCC's licensing panel as justification for making an exception to the policy of limiting alcohol availability in the Cumulative Impact Zone that surrounds the Hippodrome. The overall balance of the applications, however, favours the hotel and bars rather than the performance space—which is crucially in the heritage part of the site.
      Unfortunately, there is much wrong with the applications, which are short on vital information.
      The performance facilities are limited, there is no detail to show understanding of the requirements for such a wide range of uses. It must be doubted whether the current design could work for the sort of entertainment described.
      There is no outline event programme, no business plan, no financial projection.
      Food and drink are already more than adequately provided for in the immediate area of the Hippodrome.

      Obviously, we believe the Hippodrome is still a theatre and it would be best if it could remain one—in the jargon, the 'optimal viable use'—a star in Brighton's entertainment and cultural firmament, which has had such strong approval from the people of Brighton & Hove and beyond.
      However, any proposed use of a Grade II* heritage asset must be justified and supported with evidence of viability and sustainability. These applications do not provide that evidence.

      Watch for more news on this website.


• History
The background as a heritage building explains why this is still such an important theatre.


• The future: theatre
What we have been working on for six years: full restoration as a large-scale theatre.
Read our business plan and other evidence for a viable and sustainable theatre.


• The future: alternative
What the current owners propose.
Read why we have objected to the current planning and listed building consent applications.

We are grateful for support from
Historic England logo     HLF logo     AHF logo   Theatres Trust logo
CRF banner   Pilgrim Trust   Swire Charitable Trust   Regency Society logo   

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Page updated 15 October 2022