THE future of the Dudley Hippodrome is set to be discussed by Dudley Council chiefs at a cabinet meeting next week.

The cabinet are set to discuss the proposals to demolish the art deco building and develop a “university park” on Castle Hill as part of the wider regeneration scheme for the town.

A Towns Fund Board is overseeing the project including securing money from the government’s Towns Fund to make the project a reality.

The Town's Fund Board is seeking £25m investment to create a learning centre, offering courses in health and life sciences, which would be built on the site of the Hippodrome building and sit alongside the Very Light Rail and the Midland Metro extension which are already underway.

Plans for a driverless vehicle centre are also to be considered to sit alongside the university, according to a cabinet report.

The Dudley Driverless Vehicle Consortium were given nine months back in January to firm up their plans to develop a driverless vehicle route and hub on the site of Dudley Hippodrome.

A cabinet report ahead of next week’s meeting states the driverless project remains “viable” and would “complement” other planned regeneration developments.

The reports adds: “There is currently agreement from Warwick Manufacturing Group to provide some space in the Very Light Rail Innovation Centre to allow for the pilot routes to begin operation with a limited number of vehicles. With a view that, should this be a success, a larger facility is created in connection with the development of the Health Higher Education facility."

Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of the council, said: "These proposals are a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make huge improvements to Dudley – including a university style campus which will bring in more people to Dudley and give students the best start in life. Add to that the developments in very light rail technology and the Midlands metro extension and the future is looking very bright for Dudley.

"Cabinet is being asked to consider detailed property and land negotiations which will continue the momentum in this work. That is a unique opportunity for us and something we must all continue at pace."

The scheme would see the demolition of the Dudley Hippodrome building, which has been the subject of passionate campaigning from supporters who want to see the building restored to a theatre and community hub.

A statement from the Dudley Hippodrome Friends and Supporters Group said they had a “professional, cordial, collaborative” meeting with council chiefs to discuss plans to enhance the night-time economy in the town, but they wish to see the Hippodrome at the centre of the offer.

The statement said: "The friends of the Dudley Hippodrome will continue to campaign and work to save our local heritage whilst developing an entertainment offer for the people of Dudley and the wider Black Country. We are committed, professional and inclusive: we want the whole of Dudley to help develop our vision further. We welcome further dialogue with the Council and we support the Council in their plans to develop a night-time economy in Dudley, as long as the Hippodrome is the centre of this offer."

Cabinet members will consider the report and make any recommendations at the meeting on September 23.