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The Hippodrome is to be saved from further decline
New lease of life in pipeline for town centre building

NEW plans for the Hippodrome Cinema have every chance of success according to Falkirk Council.

The SNP-led administration says it has conjured up a solution to what should be done with the B-listed, Matt Steele designed cinema which has lain closed for 15 years.

With the Hippodrome thought essential to the Heritage Lottery Fund's acceptance of Falkirk Council's Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) proposals, it was vital a role was found for the building, owned by the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust.

Two attempts to secure an end-user have failed but now Falkirk Council has agreed to take on the cinema's day-to-day running after a £1.3 million refurbishment.

The Hope Street building will be used as a community arts facility able to present films, concerts and dramatic events. There will be exhibition space and it could host conferences and seminars.

 

Councillor John Constable, depute leader of Falkirk Council, said: "These exciting and innovative proposals again demonstrate this administration's commitment to the regeneration of Bo'ness.

"Having a credible end use for this prestigious listed building is essential to securing the future of both the Hippodrome and the entire Townscape Heritage Initiative so important to the redevelopment of the town."

Falkirk Council and our partner agencies have worked hard to produce a robust business plan for the Hippdrome that has every chance of satisfying the Heritage Lottery Fund which has been supportive of our plans for Bo'ness thus far.''

He added: "We don't see any conflict with existing facilities."
Running costs are estimated at £130,000 a year and the building is likely to employ a staff of four people working for the council's cultural services department.

A report to be presented to the policy and resources committee on Tuesday reveals the refurbishment will include new seating in the balcony, new dressing rooms and a cafeteria plus new toilets.

The downstairs seating will be re-upholstered and work done to improve the stage area as well as the installation of new projection, sound and lighting equipment.

The THI was expected to cost £3.6 million of which £1.3m would be provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund with the balance made up by Falkirk Council and Scottish Enterprise Forth Valley.

Now the THI could draw in up to £5.8 million which will be used to revitalise buildings in and around the town centre.

Falkirk Council expects to take over the running of the Hippodrome in financial year 2006-7 although work could start as early as this summer.

A spokesman said: "It is crucial to the success of the THI bid that a suitable end use is found for the Hippodrome. Without this the overall project is not likely to be approved and an opportunity for significant investment would be lost.

" The proposals in this report afford this opportunity and will allow the building to again be a focal point within the community."

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