Hippodrome Demolition Plans Delayed Over Risk Of Bats

The demolition of Dudley Hippodrome is being delayed by the possible presence of bats inside the historic building.

The halt to plans falls as council bosses warned a current rescue plan would likely be the last chance campaigners have to save the venue. The confirmed that demolition work would start 'very shortly' if the takeover package was not deemed to be viable.

Dudley Council has said they will demolish the venue, which was last used as a theatre more than 40 years ago, and replace it with an open public space.

However, they granted the Friends of Dudley Hippodrome campaign group a chance to prepare a business plan which would see them take over the Hippodrome and re-open it as a theatre. The projected cost of refurbishment, to bring the theatre to a professional standard would be around £8 million. Cllr Khurshid Ahmed, head of planning and regeneration at Dudley Council, said:

"We don't know if there are bats in there but they are an endangered species and are in hibernation so we have had to avoid demolishing the building.

"We need to make sure any bats are protected before anything is done."

Cllr Ahmed added that a final decision had to be taken soon as the authority could no longer afford to keep spending money on it.

Local resident, Susan Amery, admitted she could see both sides of the coin, saying:

"I'd love the Hippodrome to re-open and the idea of visiting the theatre on our doorstep is a wonderful one. However I think people also need to be realistic.

"If the business plans aren't viable, they're not viable. Evidently the council can't afford to support the venture financially but that doesn't mean there's a conspiracy.

"Most of the big theatres now are run by large groups like ATG. Without that level of backing and a guarantee of big touring shows visiting, would the theatre even attract patrons if the doors did re-open?"


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