Woolwich as a major cultural destination
Woolwich is embarking on a new chapter as the capital's next seminal cultural destination.
In March 2017, the Royal Borough of Greenwich approved a landmark £31.59 million investment in arts and culture with an additional contingency of £11.16m.
With performance spaces on the size and scale of the Southbank Centre, the world-leading Creative District will make residents and London proud.
Spaces for culture and businesses
The creative hub will include large-scale concert venues, rehearsal and studio spaces, offices, restaurants, and a base for internationally acclaimed theatre companies. The flexible space will provide opportunities for public interaction and involvement, training and education, as well as being available for hire for weddings, parties, conferences, community meetings or events.
The new developments include:
- a black box theatre seating up to 450
- an open-sided quadrangle courtyard for performance seating up to 600
- ten rehearsal studios, which can also be used as informal performance spaces
- artists' studios and offices for resident companies
- public facilities, including space for hire for community group and events.
The site on the River Thames has long been identified as a key driver for the local economy and will provide a new foundation in the continued revival of Woolwich and the surrounding area.
It's anticipated that the new Creative District will provide more than 400 local jobs in addition to new roles during construction.
The district will have a significant economic impact on Woolwich and the surrounding areas and bring benefits to the whole borough, much as the Arsenal did when it was operational.
It will help to reinforce the changing perceptions of Woolwich as a destination and increase the benefits of Crossrail. It will also support the economic and social development of Woolwich and its surrounding communities, particularly those of Plumstead, Abbey Wood and Thamesmead.
Using Royal Arsenal listed buildings
The major investment will bring a series of landmark historic buildings back into use to form the Creative District. Bennetts Associates have been appointed to carry out the plan to transform five buildings, including:
- a former cartridge factory (Building 17)
- an old ammunitions factory (Building 41)
- a laboratory (Building 18)
- a carriage mounting shop (Building 19)
- the Royal Military Academy (Building 40).
The Grade II and Grade II* listed buildings boast historic, architecturally impressive features and expansive square footage, plus unparalleled acoustics found in the old ammunitions factory (Building 41). This will be renovated into a large scale performance venue with capacity for more than 4,000 people.
Design and construction timeline
The Council is currently finalising the design of the buildings and submitting planning applications in spring 2018, before construction works can begin in summer 2018. It will be a phased development, so the opening of the buildings will be staggered. The first activity on-site will be in 2019 as close to the opening of the Crossrail station as possible.
Exact dates will be determined by planning permission and appointment of the contractor. Impact on local residents should be minimal as much of the work is internal. Due to the heights of the buildings cranes should not be required.
The works to the buildings will include new roofs and windows to ensure adequate soundproofing. The buildings are already well soundproofed and changes are being made to further improve them to minimise crowd noise for any larger events.