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Demolition looms for Dudley Hippodrome as college launches takeover bid

By Richard Guttridge | Dudley | News | Published:

Dudley College will table a bid to take over the site of the town’s historic hippodrome theatre within days, it can be revealed.

Dudley Hippodrome

Education bosses have had their sights on the land for months and are now developing firm plans to bulldoze the iconic venue to continue the expansion of the college.

A bid for the site is expected to be lodged during September and, if successful, would end hopes of rescuing Dudley Hippodrome once and for all.

Dudley Council invited companies to submit ‘expressions of interest’ in the building in July following the collapse of a community-led bid to re-open the landmark venue as a theatre.

A college spokesman told the Express & Star: “The college is interested in developing the facility and with a number of partners we are working on a proposal for consideration.”

How the inside of the building looked in 2012 after being used as a bingo hall

The college had acknowledged it had an interest in the site but it is the first time it has publicly stated its intentions for developing it.

It is understood the college would have no interest it retaining the Castle Hill building and would be looking to demolish it.

Education bosses are keen to continue the rapid growth of the college, which has become one of the most respected post-16 learning centres in the region under the leadership of principal Lowell Williams.

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Hopes the hippodrome could be saved were all but dashed last year when incoming Conservative council leaders ripped up an agreement which had been in place when Labour were running the authority.

How the Hippodrome looked in October 1970

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

Bosses at the authority pulled the plug after losing confidence the Black Country Hippodrome group could raise the necessary funds to bring it back to life.

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However, the Councillor Harley refused to rule out the possibility of the hippodrome returning as an entertainment venue and said: “The hippodrome is not currently an asset to Dudley and it hasn’t been for many years because it’s been closed. It’s currently an eyesore.

“It ended its days as a theatre way, way back, before our time.

“It was then a bingo hall and then it was closed and it’s been closed ever since.

“Could it be an asset to the borough? Possibly, if the right investment is found to invest in the building and have a good business plan for quality acts to come and perform there.

“There are meetings currently going ahead to decide the future of the hippodrome.”

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Chief Reporter - @RichG_star

Chief Reporter for the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton.

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