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Curtains For Hippodrome As Phoenix Rises

Coventry’s Hippodrome Theatre will be demolished early next year following the government’s approval of its purchase for the Phoenix Initiative.

The £25 million development has been given the go-ahead by Deputy Prime Minster John Prescott following a public inquiry.

Protestors had argued that the theatre, the only major Art Deco building left in the city, should be restored.

Some argued that the council should make an effort to return it to its glory days as a theatre.

But this was said to be too costly, with no guarantee that the crowds would return to that kind of venue to make the project financially viable.

The arm of Coventry City Council behind the Phoenix Initiative will now be allowed to serve Compulsory Purchase Orders on the owners of shops and other buildings in the area near Pool Meadow.

The millennium project is designed to open up the area around Priory Row in a walkway down to a new look Museum of British Road Transport, with a futuristic clock laid in a new square.

The most high-profile casualty of these changes is the Hippodrome, currently used by Gala Bingo, which is to be demolished.

Phoenix Initiative Project Manager Colin Dale said the owners of the hall had been offered a new site in Fairfax Street, and would be given a “reasonable” amount of time to construct their new home and move.

He said in theory the project could kick the bingo hall out within eight weeks.

But Mr Dale said negotiations were under way to try and come to a compromise.

He said:

“We don’t need to start work on demolishing the hippodrome yet, so we can allow a bit of time.

”The project has been slightly delayed by the public inquiry. We allowed six months for it.

“But the Millennium Commission, who are giving us £10 million have allowed us to extend the deadline until March 2002.”

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CWN / Politics / Coventry City Council / 7 Jun  00

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