Published: Wednesday, 29th March 2017

Plans have been approved to transform a section of the historic riverfront site.

The Royal Borough of Greenwich's Cabinet approved the plans this evening (Wednesday 29 March 2017) to transform a section of the historic Royal Arsenal riverfront site in Woolwich into a 16,500-square-metre creative hub.

Creating more than 400 local jobs

The creative hub will include large-scale concert venues, rehearsal and studio spaces, offices, restaurants, and a base for internationally acclaimed theatre companies.

The site 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.

'Boost to the local economy'

Leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich Councillor Denise Hyland said, "For almost 300 years, the Royal Arsenal was a major employer and the backbone of the local economy. These exciting plans place the site at the forefront of providing local jobs once more.

"Approximately one in six people in London work in the creative industries; this proposal will create new skills and wide ranging employment opportunities to open up these industries to residents and provide a massive boost to the local economy.

"This is an investment in the future of Woolwich and the future of the borough as a whole.

"The site's potential has long been identified in the London Plan, so rather than spend money on simply maintaining these amazing listed buildings, we want them to work for Woolwich in the same way the Greenwich Town Centre riverfront buildings draw people there."

Woolwich - a destination in its own right

Cllr Hyland added, "This will cement Woolwich as a destination in its own right; with a direct Crossrail link, it will give even more reason for visitors to flock to the town. The benefits will filter out into the neighbouring areas in particular like Plumstead, Abbey Wood and Thamesmead and I am sure residents will really benefit from having such an attraction right on their doorstep."

'A champion of culture and heritage in the area'

Joyce Wilson, London Area Director, Arts Council England, said, "This is a tremendously exciting time for Woolwich, and I am truly delighted, and impressed, that the Royal Borough of Greenwich is such a strong champion for culture and heritage in the area. It is heartening that arts and culture remain so firmly at the centre of the borough's work in Woolwich.

"I am pleased that the Arts Council has been able to support this through our Cultural Destinations fund, ensuring that the development both celebrates the area and stays true to its community."

More than £30million investment in the area

The Royal Borough of Greenwich Cabinet agreed a £31million investment to bring the series of landmark historic buildings back into use for the creative district, including:

  • a former cartridge factory
  • a warehouse
  • a laboratory
  • a carriage mounting shop
  • the Royal Military Academy.

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.

The creative district will also 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 a cafe and restaurant overlooking the River Thames.