Landmark proposals to renovate listed buildings at the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich and create a cultural hub have been signed off by councillors.

The first plans for the Woolwich Creative District – a regeneration project to transform the historic wartime buildings into a creative neighbourhood – were passed by Greenwich councillors at a meeting on August 7.

The £31m scheme is intended to rival the Southbank Centre and the Battersea development.

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The first phase involves repair works to buildings known as the Cartridge Factory, the Royal Laboratory Offices and the Gun Carriage Shop.

The scheme has been split into two phases – the first featuring temporary theatres and basic repair work to the historical buildings and then phase two which would include long-term upgrades.

Temporary tenants would move into the laboratory and factory buildings for up to five years before a more permanent transformation.

Its thought an “immersive theatre” production will initially be housed at the development.

Greenwich Heritage Centre 

Council bosses also assured concerned members of the public that the Greenwich Heritage Centre, which recently moved out of the site for the district to progress, will have space to return.

Despite the application not concerning the old centre’s building, concerns were raised by members of the Greenwich Industrial Society over the future of “internationally important” archives following the relocation of its home at the heritage centre.

The society’s Richard Buchanan wanted clarification over whether the archives would have space to return once the development is complete.

He said: “The archives should be kept in a suitable environment. This is not just for people in the borough but for people from around the world.”

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Councillors echoed the fears of the society, and were told the council was “committed” to the archive.

Katrina Delaney, deputy chief executive of Greenwich Council, said: “Our proposals are to build a new creative district for London.

“The Royal Arsenal is a landmark, it symbolises the connection we have with the military. We want to preserve and development that heritage.

“Developing a narrative that combines the military prominence with its cultural heritage is essential.

“The archive has been guaranteed space if they want it by the council and anyone can have individual access whilst phase one is completed. We are committed to the archive.”

Creative District 

The creative district was first touted last year, and will involve significant renovations to five listed buildings.

It is hoped the district will help Woolwich become more metropolitan, and boost the town’s night-time economy.

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Part of the wider scheme would involve the demolition of the Firepower structure to be replaced with a theatre of around 400-450 seats plus a lobby and bar.

The ammunitions factory would be the largest performance venue, with room for upwards of 2,000 people, as well as serving as a space for pop-up markets and exhibitions.

There will be room for weddings and rehearsal studios, as well as community areas, bars, a theatre box and a “flexible cultural venue”.

According to officers’ reports, the redevelopment could bring up to 136 full-time jobs to Woolwich, with up to 200 extra people taken on during events.

Further applications for the district are expected in coming months.