Hulme Hippodrome needs your help!

Manchester’s at-risk Hulme Hippodrome needs your support to survive a recent change in its status.

The Hulme Hippodrome is a 120 years old theatre, a Grade 2 Listed Building, and a precious community heritage that is now in peril of being lost for ever.

Since 2003 the Hulme Hippodrome has been owned by a controversial religious charity. Around November 2020 a minority of the trustees of this disgraced charity took money for the building from a south London property developer, and have spent it. The developer then tried to quickly sell on the building at auction, without all the legal paperwork, and advertising that apartments could be built on the site. The developer is a disqualified director by the High Court until 2025, having had 14 of their property companies closed down by the court.

The attempted auction was stopped in February 2021 by rapid community campaigning from the Save Hulme Hippodrome group, and by strong representations by Manchester City Council for being advertised contrary to planning law, and by the Theatres Trust for the loss of unique heritage.

The attempted transfer of title of ownership was stopped by the Land Registry in September 2021 after a fair appeals period because the developer had tried to purchase the building by irregular means and inaccurate documents.

On Friday 14 October, the Charity Commission took over legal control of the Hulme Hippodrome building, and the immediate danger is that they will allow a property developer to use the site for a new block of apartments. 

The Save Hulme Hippodrome campaign secured the major support of angel investor in 2021, and the latest offer to buy building was made on 6 October 2022,

The campaign calls on the Charity Commission to do the right thing and use their substantial powers to give The Hippodrome building back to community which needs its potential greatly.

You can see two related items about the campaign below:

Letter from Lucy Powell, the MP for the district within which the Hippodrome sits:

18 October 2022

From Lucy Powell, MP

To: Helen Stephenson, CEO Charity Commission

Dear Ms Stephenson

I am writing regarding Hulme Hippodrome, a Grade-2 listed theatre in my constituency, which is currently unused and deteriorating. Last year, a number of local residents established a non-profit company, Save Hulme Hippodrome (SHH), with a view to acquiring the building, restoring it and bringing it back to use as a local cultural and entertainment hub.

For the past eighteen months, it was believed that the owners of the Hippodrome, Gilbert Deya Ministries (GDM), had sold the building to a London-based property developer (Charles Gassell Gordon) for £450,000. However SHH have recently become aware that the transfer of the title deed was denied by the Land Registry due to irregularities with the sale, and GDM remained the owners of the building. Furthermore I understand that the Charity Commission have now issued GDM a Section 69 notice and taken complete control of the building.

Before becoming aware of this development, SHH wrote to the owners with a fully funded offer to purchase the building for £450,000, the same amount GDM had previously accepted from Charles Gassell Gordon. Now with the Hippodrome officially in the hands of the Charity Commission, SHH are hopeful that their offer will be accepted and that work can finally commence to restore the building and bring it back into its former use.

The group have the strong backing of Manchester City Council and a number of organisations, including the National Theatre Trust, who have been providing SHH with practical and legal support. A local wealthy investor is lined up to pay the costs and just this month, I understand the investor tabled a legal written offer for £450,000 to GDM. SHH are a bona fide constituted community group with written proof of funds. They are ready to take ownership and begin the work needed to ensure the Hippodrome can once again become a cultural and entertainment hub for the local community.

I would therefore be grateful if you could let me know what plans the Commission have to sell the building and what procedures will be in place to determine which offer is ultimately accepted. I would also strongly urge the Commission to consider the impact on the local community, who have for years campaigned and sought to save the building. With the SHH’s offer, there is now an opportunity to bring the Hippodrome back into public use as a cherished and beautiful centre for arts and culture for generations to come and I would urge the Commission to consider their offer favourably.

With best wishes

Lucy Powell

Labour & Cooperative Member of Parliament for Manchester Central

And, here, the press release from the Save Hulme Hippodrome campaigners.

HOW YOU CAN HELP Add your name here to support this open letter to the CEO of Charity Commission requesting that they act to save Hulme Hippodrome for the community. THANK YOU!

For more information about the Save Hulme Hippodrome group, see below.

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