20th October 2022
On Friday 14 October 2022 the Charity Commission took over legal control of the Hulme Hippodrome building, and the danger is they will allow a property developer to use the site for a new block of apartments. 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 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.
The risk now is that the Charity Commission might use its legal powers to give the developer everything they have asked for, overruling all the other authorities and regulators.
The Save Hulme Hippodrome community campaign group secured the support of an angel investor in August 2021 and has made repeated offers to buy the building at a fair price, and commissioned an independent valuation survey of the building to comply with charity law – something none of the other parties did. There is a credible business plan for the future of the building for years to come.
The latest offer to buy the building, made by letter on 6 October 2022, stands and we call on the Charity Commission to do the right thing and use its powers rightly to give Hulme Hippodrome back to the community. This is at no cost to the public purse.
Notes to editors:
1. For quotes, please contact Paul Baker on 07932 639757
2. The angel’s identity is known to senior people at Manchester City Council, and all due diligence has been done.
3. A briefing note with full details, dates, etc is available here
4. A summary of the social history of Hulme Hippodrome can be found on Wikipedia. The article also also has information about the two major press scandals and Gilbert Deya Ministries charity.