Councilors are recommended to approve the demolition of Dudley Racecourse and the nearby old rink

Planning chief Richard Stevenson recommends that plans to demolish the Art Deco theater, as well as the nearby former ice rink, be approved at a development oversight committee meeting on Wednesday.

Both buildings will be replaced with a new university campus specializing in nursing and healthcare courses if the project is approved.

But Stevenson added that any committee decision would still be subject to approval by Secretary of State for Upgrade, Communities and Housing Michael Gove, who would have the power to “summon” the program for review.

Mr Stevenson said the plans attracted 76 letters of objection, with concerns over the loss of an important building and objections to the design of the university buildings proposed to replace it.

Residents had also requested that the site be kept for recreation or tourism, and expressed concern that the plans were unsuitable for a major gateway to the city.

The Theaters Trust and 20th Century Society had both opposed the plans, he said, although the government-funded conservation group Historic England raised no objections.

West Midlands Police have requested changes to the design of the proposed university building, reducing the number of entrances and restricting vehicle access.

Mr Stevenson said an assessment of the conservation character of Dudley town center found that the building made an “average positive” contribution to the conservation area based on its street frontage and the role it played. he was playing in the front door of the area. But he also said the vacant state of the building was hurting the area.

A separate assessment, carried out for the Castle Hill Conservation Area, said this was negatively impacting buildings at the nearby zoo.

“The Hippodrome Theater is seen in some views as a blocky rectilinear silhouette with a long unrelieved elevation standing directly behind the former listed Safari Café, now the entrance, the gift shop,” he said. he declares.

The racecourse has not hosted any shows since 1974, but remained in use as a bingo hall until 2009, shortly before it was purchased by Dudley Council.

The nearby old rink is currently used as a martial arts center, and part of it was also used until recently as JB’s old nightclub.

Mr Stevenson said the project would enhance the setting of Dudley Castle by improving views, as well as the Castle Hill and Dudley town center conservation areas by providing a building with active facades on all sides.

“Consideration was also given to the significant advantages that a higher education institution would have over the city center and the wider region, especially given its focus on medical and health-related training,” said he declared.

Mr Stevenson said Mr Gove’s department wrote to the board asking that no notice of decision be issued until he has had the opportunity to review the committee’s resolution.