Last-ditch attempt to list and save Dudley Hippodrome is unsuccessful

A last-ditch attempt to save Dudley Hippodrome from being torn down to make way for a new university campus has been unsuccessful.

Dudley Hippodrome is set to be knocked down and replaced with a university campus
Dudley Hippodrome is set to be knocked down and replaced with a university campus

Dudley Council ruled last year the Art Deco theatre and adjacent land and buildings in Castle Hill would be demolished.

Campaigners were left with some hope it could be saved as the proposals were subject to a call in by Government minister Michael Gove.

But Mr Gove, who heads up the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, declined to intervene and overturn the decision.

And now a final attempt to save Dudley Hippodrome by having the building listed has been denied – meaning the fate of the site has been sealed.

Claire Appleby, an architecture adviser at the Theatres Trust, said: "[The] Theatres Trust is disappointed by the news that the application by the Friends of Dudley Hippodrome to have the building listed has been unsuccessful.

"This was the last real hope of providing protection for the building which has been approved for demolition. Sadly, it looks like we’ve come to the end of the road in our attempts to save Theatre at Risk Dudley Hippodrome."

Residents had called for the site to be kept for leisure or tourism use and voiced concerns the controversial plans were not befitting of an important gateway to the town – especially as Dudley is bidding to become a city.

The Duchess of Beaufort and the Earl of Dudley – whose ancestors donated the land on which the Hippodrome was built – both waded in to launch their objections and said the proposed university campus building was of “no architectural merit”.

However, council chiefs have repeatedly insisted all realistic options had been exhausted and the building had been subject to vandalism over the years.

Councillor Simon Phipps, cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise, described it as a "long, drawn-out process" but they owed it "to the people of Dudley and students of the future to get this done" after the news the Government would not intervene.

The theatre was built in 1938 and hosted Laurel and Hardy and Bing Crosby, but it closed in 1964 and became a Gala bingo hall until that closed in 2009.

It has been empty ever since despite attempts to restore the building to its former glory, with council bosses insisting now was the time to act over it.

The university scheme will be funded through the £25 million Towns Fund cash pot awarded to Dudley Council by the Government. It has been drawn up through a partnership between the council, Dudley College of Technology, University of Worcester, tourist attractions and other organisations in the town.

The University of Worcester will oversee the teaching and learning at the site which is expected to be up and running by the autumn of 2024.

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News