Hippodrome gets a lifeline

Dudley Hippodrome could be saved from demolition after councillors agreed a five-year lease on the building.

The landmark former hippodrome and bingo hall in Dudley has been thrown a potential lifeline after council bosses agreed to lease the building to campaigners for five years to explore its potential reopening.

Dudley Council is set to hand the keys to the dilapidated building on Castle Hill to Black Country Hippodrome Ltd, the group which has been battling to re-open it.

They will take over the running of the building as part of which a series of milestones will be agreed between the group and the council, to make sure that progress continues on finding a suitable funding package.

The council has been pressing ahead with plans to apply for planning permission to demolish the building to make way for an open air public space to host exhibitions and other events next to the entrance to the zoo and castle.

While those plans will continue in the background as a “fallback position” the council has made a firm commitment to work with the group as they explore the potential to re-open the building as a priority. Councillor Pete Lowe, leader of Dudley Council, said:

“We have always maintained that we would look seriously at viable propositions for the building and it is clear that the current group has made significant strides forward in developing a plan for the site.

"However, having come this far, we recognise that the group needs a stake in the building in order to be able to have meaningful discussions with potential funding partners and we are now exploring how to reach a position which gives the group this stake, without committing either party fully until we have more certainty.

“Our work to seek planning permission to demolish the building is merely a fallback position if our work with the group fails to re-open the building for whatever reason, but rest assured they have our full support in their bid.”

The building has stood empty since it closed as a bingo hall in 2009. It has not been used as a theatre since the 1960s. The council bought the building in 2010 and launched well publicised plans to demolish the buildings as part of a huge tourism masterplan linking the zoo with the town centre. But the plans were halted to listen to groups who asked for the opportunity to look at alternative uses for the building, which has been ongoing for five years.

The council’s cabinet approved a move to put forward a planning application to demolish the building and create a public open space in its place at a meeting in December last year.

The council has considered a number of proposals for the reuse of the building, and has on each occasion commissioned independent consultants to appraise proposals. But these suggested alternatives all failed as a result of either viability issues or funding pressures placed on the council at a time of severe financial constraints.

The latest move aims to give the group a genuine chance at saving it from the bulldozers if they can find the significant investment to refurbish and run the site as a hippodrome. Steve Daniels, Black Country Hippodrome Ltd board member,said:

“Having now grounded the plan from a commercial basis, we need some certainty as to the council’s commitment in order to move forward discussions with potential funders and we are very pleased with the progress we are making. I think it is important that everyone is clear about the scale of the challenge in bringing life back to a building of this scale, but we are approaching this with a positive attitude and are confident that we have the skills on board within our group to do this.

“Given the history to this building we understand that it has already been agreed that the council will continue to seek planning consent for an alternative development on the site, should our joint efforts fail to bear fruit, and are happy that in doing this the council is acting in good faith.”


Add a comment

Rating *

Recently Played


  • Available on the App Store
  • Available on Google Play

Useful Links


Travel News

How To Listen

Latest Podcasts

92.2 / 102.5 FM
'Play Black Country Radio'