Campaigners hopes have been left in tatters after Dudley Council's cabinet voted to allow 'Dudley Driverless Vehicles Consortium' to take over the Dudley Hippodrome site - a move which will see the theatre building demolished.
The consortium behind the preferred plans, which includes Dudley College, Black Country Living Museum, Dudley Canal and Tunnels Trust, Dudley Zoological Gardens and the University of Warwick, now have 12 months to prove the viability of their bid and, if their plans don't prove viable, the cabinet were told they would be 'back to square one'.
Both former council leader, Councillor Patrick Harley and current leader, Councillor Qadar Zada, said their heart was with the Hippodrome, but thinking things through they supported the consortium's plan for the Castle Hill site - a move which twas considered the 'most viable' option, and has an overall cost of £9 million.
Cllr Harley also added that, in the future, he would support building of a new entertainment venue in Dudley - a move which has aggravated campaigners who pointed out that the council are giving away a theatre, and suggesting one could be rebuilt at another time.
Commenting on social media, campaigners questioned how a driverless car centre would bring people into Dudley to help boost the economy - citing the support that neighbouring councils in Birmingham and Wolverhampton give to their theatres as proof of the Hippodromes viability.
The blow comes as Creative Industries Minister, Margot James, is set to visit Dudley College later today to announce major investment in the UK's creative industries.