Dudley Hippodrome has been on the Theatres Trust’s Theatres at Risk Register since 2010, with the Trust supporting efforts to reinvigorate the theatre as a live performance venue.
Dudley Council has been successful in its bid to the government’s Town Funds initiative, meaning that they will be able to move ahead with their plans to demolish the nearly-century old Dudley Hippodrome.
However the Theatres Trust have criticised plans to demolish the 1,750 seat theatre, which hasn't staged a production since 1964, to make way for a new university building. Claire Appleby, the Trust's Architecture Adviser said:
"We are enormously disappointed by this outcome as we believe that the Dudley Hippodrome had the potential to provide a live performance venue and play a key role in the regeneration of the centre of Dudley. With sensitive and sympathetic design, it could have formed a fantastic new gateway to the town, sitting together with the Odeon Cinema opposite reinventing the 1930s’ streetscape of the past.
"While Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council is currently exploring a number of other schemes in the borough, none of these are comparable with the Hippodrome. As a purpose-built theatre with a fly tower, a refurbished Hippodrome could take a wide variety of shows and provide an entertainment venue that the town is sorely lacking.
"This is a missed opportunity to reimagine a building with a strong theatrical history and designed by local architect, Archibald Hurley Robinson who completed over 30 cinemas in the West Midlands, sadly many of which have also been lost. The Hippodrome is unique in being his only theatre."
The Trust also argued that the green cost of demolition was huge, adding:
"As we face a climate emergency it is our duty to look towards sustainable solutions and projects need to consider whole-life carbon assessments including the impact of demolition. We have seen elsewhere that the calculated carbon cost for demolition and replacement can be twice that of retrofit. The carbon cost of demolition of the Hippodrome and rebuilding anew requires recognition.
"In our role as the national body for theatres, Theatres Trust will continue to engage with Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council to make the case for theatre provision in the town."