Eastbourne theatre and playing fields may be disposed of

The Royal Hippodrome Theatre in Eastbourne  (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-180907-104454008
The Royal Hippodrome Theatre in Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-180907-104454008

An Eastbourne theatre and playing fields may be disposed of to ease council spending and raise some cash for the authority.

The Royal Hippodrome in Seaside Road and the Langney Playing Fields, occupied by Eastbourne Borough Football Club, are the two assets Eastbourne council is looking to dispose of in a bid to “relieve pressure on the council’s limited resources” while “providing community organisations the ability to manage their own estate therefore enhancing the opportunity for them to achieve inward investment and development”.

The council says the theatre, which opened in 1883 and was bought by the council in the late 1950s, needs tens of thousands of pounds spending on it and the council does not have the funds.

It has been run by theatre stalwarts Alex and Debbie Adams since last year under a community interest company, which can draw down on private investment and grants.

Papers are due to go before the council’s cabinet committee next week rubberstamping the first stages of the deal

A council spokesperson said, “It is thought that enabling the community to manage assets directly is the best option to ensure the future sustainability of the Royal Hippodrome Theatre and Langney Playing Fields.

“The theatre CIC has proved its commitment to the property and has exciting plans for its future as a community theatre, however, a way forward needs to be found in order to allow the CIC to continue with its plans. To this end, officers have opened discussions with the CIC regarding a possible ‘as seen’ freehold disposal.

“The CIC has said it would be prepared to accept this on the basis of the council paying a one off contribution to future capital works.”

Langney Playing Fields, the council says, is occupied by Langney Sports Club which in turn is owned by Eastbourne Borough Football Club CIC and includes Eastbourne Borough Football Club, Langney Sports Indoor Bowls Club,

Eastbourne Archers, Owlets Nursery and two bars.

The council spokesperson said Acorns Charitable Trust which owns 52 per cent of the club, wants to buy the playing fields to “provide stability and reassurance for those that use the facilities on the land into the future”.

The spokesperson said, ACT has stated it wishes to continue to provide diverse and accessible facilities for the community of Langney and beyond.

“A valuation will be undertaken on the basis of current and continuing use. ACT has made an offer on the site which can only be agreed once the valuation and due diligence of progressing the disposal has been completed.”