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Former Dudley theatre could be bulldozed by end of 2012
2:19pm Thursday 6th September 2012 in News
DUDLEY Council has submitted plans to demolish the former Hippodrome theatre on Castle Hill, just days after campaigners presented a business plan to save the building.
The art deco style building, which also became Gala Bingo, closed completely in September 2009 and has stood empty ever since.
Campaigners who have formed ‘The Friends of Dudley Hippodrome’ are calling for the building to be retained and restored back into a theatre venue for the town and have collected a petition, which is almost at 1,000 signatures and have put together a business case.
The 17-page plan calls for council officers to suspend the demolition plans and allow the group to develop their plans with the aim to set up a social enterprise to run the theatre.
However if the council’s plans get the go-ahead the building, which was recently dismissed by English Heritage for statutory listing, will be demolished by the end of the year, with the internal stripping out work commencing within weeks.
Built in 1938, the building was purchased by Dudley Council in 2010 to form part of its ongoing Castle Hill regeneration plans, which include the shared entrance for Dudley Zoo, Black Country Living Museum and Dudley Canal Trust.
The planning application, which is available for viewing online, also requests conservation area consent to demolish the building and to use the area as a temporary car park for Dudley Zoo.
Council bosses have vowed to consider the business plan put forward by The Friends group despite the planning application.
Councillor Shaukat Ali, cabinet member for regeneration, said: “The submission of this planning application in no way pre-supposes the outcome of our current discussions with the Friends of the Hippodrome, who are preparing a business plan for the potential re-use of the building.
“We have explained to the group that while we will consider their proposal with a completely open mind, should their plan fail to proceed or prove unviable, that subject to planning consent the council would still proceed with the option to demolish the building.
“The timing of the demolition of Gala Bingo is very important in terms of avoiding peak periods for the visitor attractions in the Castle Hill area.
"It is also important to remember that this planning application, as with others, will need to go through the normal statutory planning process.”