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Creative district planned for former Arsenal site

Creative district planned for former Arsenal site

A factory where the means of great destruction were once made is to become a hive of creativity, following a planning decision by Greenwich Council.

It has given the green light to the establishment of a creative district at the Woolwich Arsenal site and the local authority is putting £31 million towards its development. The construction project will include the re-use of several historic buildings at the former gun factory.

Once complete, the development will include a 450-seat theatre and an outdoor performance courtyard, plus ten rehearsal studios.

Tenders are being prepared by the council for the 170,000 sq ft site, with work on the first phase set to start in June this year and be completed in time for tenants to move in the following year. The second phase of construction work is anticipated to begin in 2021.

Council documents relating to the proposals noted: "The total usable space is comparable, if not larger, than the creative space provided in the South Bank Centre."

The documents also stated that the redevelopment will provide a major draw for visitors, who will be able to use Crossrail to reach the area. Services begin next year and the new station occupies part of the Woolwich Arsenal site, not far from the existing Woolwich Arsenal mainline rail station.

Plans for a creative quarter mark the latest step in re-using the former weapons factory, which was sold off for development by the Ministry of Defence in 1997. Part of it is now the Royal Artillery Museum.

The original factory started work in the 17th century, making guns and ordnance up to the late 1960s. At its peak of production in the First World War it employed 80,000 people.

Woolwich Arsenal also has a famous sporting legacy, as the football team of that name was the first London side to play in the Football League. It dropped the 'Woolwich' part of its name when it moved across London to Highbury in 1913.

Image: iStock

 

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