Community groups ensure ‘future sustainability’ of two town assets

Cabinet councillors last night (Wednesday) agreed in principle to hand over The Royal Hippodrome Theatre and Langney Playing Fields to the two community groups that run them, subject to legal safeguards that protect the assets for the future.

The Royal Hippodrome Theatre Eastbourne Community Interest Company (RHTECIC) and Acorns Charitable Trust (formerly known as Langney Playing Fields Committee) currently lease the sites.

Councillor Alan Shuttleworth, Cabinet member for Direct Assistant Services, said: “If there is a will to do so and it is feasible, we support community organisations being able to own their own facilities.

“This not only gives them the autonomy they want, but also increases opportunities for inward investment and development while relieving pressure on the council’s limited resources. Once they have ownership, it gives them greater access for grant support. In these two cases, this is the best option for ensuring the future sustainability of the town’s assets.”

The Grade II listed Royal Hippodrome Theatre, which opened in 1883, is in need of significant investment to continue to operate. The RHTECIC, which initially expressed an interest in taking over the freehold two years ago, has recently undertaken £250,000 of improvement works to the foyer using its own funds.

Acorns Charitable Trust approached the council wishing to buy Langney Playing Fields in Priory Road to provide stability and reassurance for those who use these facilities and pledged to register the site with Fields in Trust, if successful.

Independent valuations will now be undertaken.

Published 6 June, 2019