While Dudley’s new University Park has been well received by most of the Borough, the National Theaters Body has called it “disappointing.”
The old Dudley Racecourse on Castle Hill will be demolished to make way for the multi-million pound higher education complex after Dudley Council secured £ 25million to bolster the plans.
However, campaigners had hoped the racetrack would play a key role in Dudley’s regeneration.
The Theaters Trust said it was a “missed opportunity” and will work with the council to “advocate for the provision of theater in the city”.
Claire Appleby, architectural advisor to Theaters Trust, believed the racetrack had the potential to provide 1,500 capacity for live performances.
“With a responsive and sympathetic design, it could have formed a fantastic new gateway to Dudley seated with the Odeon Cinema opposite, reinventing the 1930s streetscape of the past,” Claire said.
“While Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council is currently exploring a number of other projects in the borough, none of them compare to the Hippodrome.
“As a specially designed theater with a flying tower, a refurbished racetrack could host a wide variety of shows and provide a venue for entertainment the city sorely lacks.
“There is also no replacement for the memories and evocative atmosphere inherent in historic buildings such as the Hippodrome. These cannot be recreated.
“This is a missed opportunity to reinvent a building with a strong theatrical history and designed by local architect, Archibald Hurley Robinson, who has completed more than 30 cinemas in the West Midlands, many of which have sadly also been lost. racetrack is unique in that it is its only theater.
“As we face a climate emergency, it is our duty to seek sustainable solutions and projects must take into account lifetime carbon assessments, including the impact of demolition.
“We have seen elsewhere that the calculated carbon cost for demolition and replacement can be double that of modernization. The carbon cost of demolishing the racetrack and rebuilding it requires recognition.”
Dudley Hippodrome has been on the Theaters Trust’s Theaters at Risk Register since 2010.