The owners of Brighton Racecourse have submitted a planning application for the restoration and renovation of the grade II* listed site.
They said their goal was to “return the Hippodrome – the nation’s most risky theater – to its former glory, as a multi-format live performance venue”.
Plans include the creation of a flexible performance space, a restaurant and café, a rooftop bar and terrace, an “apart-hotel”, serviced offices and shops.
The planning application, submitted to Brighton and Hove City Council, includes ‘partial demolition work and extensions’ to the Victorian building, in Middle Street, Brighton.
It also includes a proposal to build a new six-storey aparthotel, overlooking Ship Street, and to convert the Hippodrome’s former ‘flight tower’ into offices.
The plans, submitted late last month, propose to turn Hippodrome House into a bar and members’ club, complete with an outdoor terrace. It would also contain some of the aparthotel’s rooms.
The owners, the Lambor family, of Brighton, not only want to restore the derelict building, but to ensure it can be put on a financially viable footing.
The family has already spent a seven-figure sum on stabilizing the building, including sealing the roof and fighting rot. And the project to bring the building back to life is expected to cost several million more.
A planning statement was submitted with the planning application. It was prepared by consultancy ECE Planning for the Lambors, owner of the Matsim group of property companies.
He said: ‘Brighton Racecourse, a grade II* listed building, has deteriorated into a state of disrepair since it was vacated in 2006.
“The general neglect and lack of maintenance that occurred during this period led to the building being placed on Historic England’s ‘at risk’ register.
“The proposed development will represent a significant investment in the building and an opportunity to arrest the current trend of decay and enhance the significance of the building and its contribution to the wider Old Town conservation area.”
The 125-year-old Hippodrome was built as an ice rink in 1897, according to the planning statement. It has since been a circus (1901-02), a variety theater (1902-65) and, more recently, from the late 1960s to 2006, a bingo hall.
The planning statement added: ‘These uses have seen the building extended and altered in many ways, including the addition and incorporation of Hippodrome House to the north of the original building.’
At some point since its closure in 2006, there were plans to turn the venue into a nightclub and concert hall.
And most recently, eight years ago, plans were approved to convert the historic building into a cinema and food hall, create a mezzanine and demolish the flight tower.
The planning statement said: ‘The proposals represent the effective and efficient use of land previously developed to restore one of Brighton’s most valuable and iconic listed buildings, and one of the most at-risk theaters in the country, and provide an iconic live entertainment venue and apartment. hotel, all in a highly sustainable location.
“The proposed development will make a significant and valuable contribution to… Brighton and Hove’s hospitality and leisure industry.
“The proposals include the conversion and extension of the upper parts of Hippodrome House to create 16 self-contained hotel rooms.
“A new extension to the racecourse is also proposed, with a dedicated entrance and a sensitively designed facade on Ship Street, which will accommodate 62 aparthotel rooms.
“The work on the upper volume of the Hippodrome flight tower will create approximately 850 m2 of serviced offices and coworking spaces.”
The planning statement said its proposal would create flexible event space and add guest rooms in an area identified by the council as the “core area” for hotels.
The inclusion of shared offices and shared workspaces was also in line with council planning policies, the company said.
The planning statement added: “Restoring and ensuring the future sustainability of the theater is and always has been at the heart of this redevelopment programme.
“This will allow the theater to return to the intended use of its peak and allow it to cater to a variety of other modern uses such as live music, events, conferences and performances.
“This multi-use approach has fed into other aspects of the project that allow the building and the Hippodrome site as a whole to evolve to meet today’s expectations.
“This includes the incorporation of 16 aparthotel rooms within the Hippodrome House and a further 62 newly constructed rooms within the Ship Street aparthotel which will serve and help support the proposed use of the theater for the event, helping to ensure its long-term conservation and upkeep. »
The planning statement said the project would ensure the continued existence of a much-loved historic building, strengthen the surrounding area and bring the Frank Matcham-designed venue back to its glory days.