Work to demolish Dudley Hippodrome to start before the end of the year

Work to tear down Dudley Hippodrome to make way for a new university campus will start before the end of the year, council chiefs have said.

Dudley Hippodrome
Dudley Hippodrome

Council bosses said no date had officially been set as they continue to work on demolition plans for the art deco theatre in Castle Hill.

It will see the site, along with adjacent land and buildings, knocked down and prepared for a campus that will specialise in nursing and healthcare courses.

Councillor Simon Phipps, cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise for Dudley Counil, said: "Demolition work is scheduled to start before the end of the year as we continue to work on the detail.

"Once the demolition is complete it will pave the way for the university campus on the site, as part of a £1 billion investment in the town."

Campaigners had objected against the controversial plans and had called for the theatre, built in 1938, to be renovated and be at the heart of the town.

But the plans were backed by councillors, with the Government refusing to step in and intervene and Historic England refusing calls to list the theatre.

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 – and they owed it to the people of Dudley, and students of the future, to "get this done".

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.

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