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A new creative district for London

A major new creative district for London is to be created in the heart of Woolwich.  

Plans were approved on 29 March to transform a section of the historic Royal Arsenal riverfront site into a 16,500 sq m creative hub. It will include large-scale concert venues, rehearsal and studio spaces, offices, restaurants, and a base for internationally acclaimed theatre companies.

The site has been long 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 the new creative district will provide more than 400 local jobs in addition to new roles during construction. 

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. 

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.”  

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 and 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.”
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, warehouse, laboratory, carriage mounting shop and the Royal Military Academy.

The grade 2/2* 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 4000 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
  • 10 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