(Taken form this weeks The Stage)
Derby Hippodrome set to make way for car park
Published Thursday 5 February 2009 at 11:15 by Lalayn Baluch
Plans are being laid to partially flatten the beleaguered Derby Hippodrome to make way for a multi-storey car park, office and retail complex.
The owner of the disused Grade II-listed theatre Christopher Anthony has submitted a pre-planning application to Derby City Council, which will allow for a 14-day consultation period before his proposals are submitted officially.
The document outlines plans to create a 346-space car park behind the existing frontage of the theatre, as well as a block of flats and offices. The ground floor of the site will house a coffee shop, newsagent and toilets.
Internal decorative plaster work will be retained and restored “as far as practicable” and a modern steel canopy will be removed.
Huge parts of the venue were demolished by the owner last March. The building suffered additional minor damage from a fire two weeks ago – the second blaze at the site in less than a year.
The design outline for the redevelopment states: “The proposals seek to retain those parts of the building that have not been irretrievably lost, retain those elevations of the building which are still structurally sound and contribute to the local street scene. Find a use for the main part of the building that will allow the retained elements to be sympathetically retained in as unaltered form as possible, remove opportunities for antisocial behaviour and contribute to the regeneration of the immediate area.”
The plans have been criticised by the Derby New Theatre Association, which represents amateur theatre in the city. DNTA chairman Tony Jaggers said: “I am appalled. It was listed because of its internal features and structure.
“I would like the council to put a preservation order on Anthony and if he failed to [repair it] then they should compulsorily purchase it. Then seek ways to set up some sort of trust to eventually get the whole building back into use.”
Meanwhile, Theatres Trust director Mhora Samuel said that the loss of the building would be a “total tragedy”. She added: “How will a multi-storey car park bring Derby Hippodrome back to life as a theatre or provide any cultural benefit to the City? The Theatres Trust would object strongly to any application that proposes this.”
A council spokesman said that the authority would consider changing the building’s use from a bingo hall to a car park. He added: “Mr Anthony owns the Hippodrome building, not the council, therefore we cannot force him to bring the building back into use as a theatre. We are, however, trying to facilitate a realistic and practical use for the building.”
He said that the council is still considering prosecuting Anthony in relation to the demolition of the venue last year.