Plans for a major refurbishment and extension of the historic Tramshed arts centre have been granted planning permission at a Greenwich Council meeting last night.

Rejuvenating the much-loved theatre site is part of plans to relocate Woolwich Leisure Centre, and has been called "the first step in creating one of the most exciting leisure centres in London."

Tramshed, housed in a unique Edwardian power station that once served a tram network, will be sensitively rejuvenated by Greenwich Council 'to provide an exciting performing arts venue and spaces for community use.'

Cllr Adel Khaireh, Greenwich's Culture, Communities and Equalities lead, said: “Gaining planning approval for Tramshed is the first step in creating one of the most exciting new leisure centres in London located in the heart of Woolwich town centre.

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“Thousands of residents have already had their say on the ambitious plans that will also see the construction of more than 450 new homes, including affordable ones for our residents.

“Together with shops, workspace, food and drink outlets, and new public spaces this is a big investment in Woolwich with great potential to enhance the town centre and provide new public facilities, homes and jobs.”

The new Woolwich Leisure Centre will replace the old facilities at the Waterfront Leisure Centre with their modern equivalents and will also provide new facilities not currently available at the existing building in a more convenient town centre location close to excellent transport links.

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Improvements to the Tramshed in the planning application include a fully renovated performance space with an audience capacity of over 150, a new flexible office space for local start-ups, improvement to kitchen and toilet facilities, and changes to the internal set-up to provide acoustic separation.

The refurb will also provide a connection to the new leisure centre, where two new studios will be located, and will also see the demolition and rebuilding of the 1970s extensions.

Jeremy James, Artistic Director at the old arts centre, said: “Tramshed, formerly known as Greenwich and Lewisham Young People’s Theatre, has been in the Woolwich tramshed since 2009 where we’ve been running a varied arts and entertainment programme.

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"We’re proud to have nurtured the talent of so many local young people including Bernardine Evaristo, last year’s Booker Prize winner - the refurbishment of the theatre will secure our future so we can reach thousands more and give the communities of Woolwich a space to be proud of.”

On top of plans to refurb the Tramshed, the Woolwich Leisure Centre project will see hundreds of new homes built, as well as outlets and shops, whilst a number of existing buildings may have to be demolished.

This comes after residents of Troy Court, a council housing block built specifically for people aged over 55 which would be demolished to make way for the new project, made a desperate appeal for their homes to be saved.