18 October 2022
From Lucy Powell, MP
To: Helen Stephenson, CEO Charity Commission
Dear Ms Stephenson
I am writing regarding Hulme Hippodrome, a Grade-2 listed theatre in my constituency, which is currently unused and deteriorating. Last year, a number of local residents established a non-profit company, Save Hulme Hippodrome (SHH), with a view to acquiring the building, restoring it and bringing it back to use as a local cultural and entertainment hub.
For the past eighteen months, it was believed that the owners of the Hippodrome, Gilbert Deya Ministries (GDM), had sold the building to a London-based property developer (Charles Gassell Gordon) for £450,000. However SHH have recently become aware that the transfer of the title deed was denied by the Land Registry due to irregularities with the sale, and GDM remained the owners of the building. Furthermore I understand that the Charity Commission have now issued GDM a Section 69 notice and taken complete control of the building.
Before becoming aware of this development, SHH wrote to the owners with a fully funded offer to purchase the building for £450,000, the same amount GDM had previously accepted from Charles Gassell Gordon. Now with the Hippodrome officially in the hands of the Charity Commission, SHH are hopeful that their offer will be accepted and that work can finally commence to restore the building and bring it back into its former use.
The group have the strong backing of Manchester City Council and a number of organisations, including the National Theatre Trust, who have been providing SHH with practical and legal support. A local wealthy investor is lined up to pay the costs and just this month, I understand the investor tabled a legal written offer for £450,000 to GDM. SHH are a bona fide constituted community group with written proof of funds. They are ready to take ownership and begin the work needed to ensure the Hippodrome can once again become a cultural and entertainment hub for the local community.
I would therefore be grateful if you could let me know what plans the Commission have to sell the building and what procedures will be in place to determine which offer is ultimately accepted. I would also strongly urge the Commission to consider the impact on the local community, who have for years campaigned and sought to save the building. With the SHH’s offer, there is now an opportunity to bring the Hippodrome back into public use as a cherished and beautiful centre for arts and culture for generations to come and I would urge the Commission to consider their offer favourably.
With best wishes
Labour & Cooperative Member of Parliament for Manchester Central