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Firm which evicted Greenwich Playhouse told to stop hostel work
A HOSTEL company which turfed a popular theatre group out of its premises is being ordered to stop converting the venue into accommodation.
Beds and Bars firmly denied it was making room for backpacker accomodation during the Olympics when it ended Greenwich Playhouse's lease earlier this year.
But the firm is being hit with a legal notice by Greenwich Council last week, warning them to stop converting the space into a 26-bed hostel until they secured appropriate planning permission.
Artistic director of the playhouse, which is now without a home, Alice de Sousa said: "Nothing which this self-discredited hostel and pub chain do surprises me.
"Their deeds have always spoken louder than their words.
"Nevertheless, it is painfully evident how culturally impoverished Greenwich has become since the closure of the playhouse."
The playhouse, beside Greenwich train station, used to attract around 15,000 people annually and the closure was greeted with dismay in the town. Ms de Sousa is now locked in negotiations with Greenwich Council over finding a new venue.
Beds and Bars managing director Keith Knowles responded angrily when asked about the notice, saying: "If you want to talk to me about theatres I don't want to know."
He claimed the theatre had not been making enough money and the company had tried "very hard to retain it".
But he said: "It was more aggro than it was worth."
Mr Knowles refused to confirm whether work had started on converting the building, but said: "If the Olympics were somewhere else I'd be truly, truly pleased.
"We're at about 35 per cent capacity for the Olympics - people have been frightened off of London."
He added: "If we've breached any planning laws in what we've done we'll change it. But we're not in the habit of doing that."