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Dudley Hippodrome future: Firms offered last chance to run venue

By Richard Guttridge | Dudley | News | Published: | Last Updated:

Companies are being invited take over Dudley Hippodrome following the collapse of a community-led bid to re-open the landmark building as a theatre.

Dudley Council said it was welcoming 'expressions of interest' for the derelict building on Castle Hill.

Interested parties are being encouraged to submit business cases for the future of the building or the site if they want to knock it down.

Dudley College is understood to be keen on taking over the site to continue its campus building in the town but has yet to publicly announce its intentions.

Council bosses are keen to make new use of the building or the land it stands as they attempt to move on from the saga over the ill-fated project to restore the Hippodrome.

It has been suggested a new campaign group could forward to once again try and rescue the former theatre but council chiefs are thought to favour new usage of the site.

The authority made the controversial decision to take back the keys to the Hippodrome earlier this year after deciding a bid by a campaign group to save it was not realistic, despite them investing thousands of pounds into the project.

Council leader Patrick Harley said he wanted to draw a line under the Hippodrome issue 'once and for all'.

The building stands derelict on Castle Hill and has not been used since 2009 when it was a bingo hall.

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Councillor Harley said: “We have bent over backwards to make sure that we consider every option for this building, but we cannot allow this to become another town eyesore.

“We are looking for expressions of interest in the site, which must then be backed by a robust business case and financial proposition, in order to make sure we have left no stone unturned in determining the future of this site.”

Relations soured between the leaders of the Conservative-controlled council and the Black Country Hippodrome group that led the restoration bid.

The group was handed a lease and set itself a target to raise £5 million to make the project a reality.

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However, council officials took the view funding was not coming in quickly enough and pulled the plug.

Dudley College is thought to be lining up a bid to take over the site but has yet to confirm the plans officially.

Dudley Hippodrome was built in 1938 and was last used as a theatre in 1964.

In its heyday it played, it played host to the likes of Laurel and Hardy, Sir Bruce Forsyth and Bob Monkhouse but has steadily declined over the last half a century.

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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