ANNOUNCEMENT: Selladoor announces proposals for major landmark theatre refurbishment project in the capital

21 June 2019

Ambitious redevelopment plans for the historic Grade II listed Royal Borough Halls launching into new theatre hub by leading theatre organisation.

Selladoor Worldwide (one of the UK’s leading touring theatre producers and no. 38 in The Stage 100’s 2019 list of most influential people working in the performing arts industry), are pleased to announce their proposed plans to redevelop the Borough Halls building in Greenwich into a new multi-space theatre and performing arts hub in the heart of Greenwich, named the Greenwich Festival Theatre. The new venue will be a major producing theatre and entertainment hub for South East London, offering diverse, daring and dynamic world class theatre and an artistic mission to create, curate and present a year round live performance programme of both local and national importance in the borough. The former Greenwich Borough Halls, built in 1939, will complete an ambitious and extensive redevelopment potentially as early as autumn 2019 with the aim of opening in Spring 2021.

The development of Greenwich Festival Theatre is now in the final process of a public consultation with Greenwich Borough Council, before the project commences. The consultation goes live on Monday 24th June for 3 weeks, and will enable the Greenwich community to share their views on the future of the Borough Halls and show support for the scheme.

The proposed redevelopment plans for the Borough Halls will comprise of two theatre spaces, a 650-seater main stage and a 240-seater flexible studio/black box space. The plans also include extending the main stage performance footprint and seating capacity of the hall to allow larger and more ambitious musicals, plays and live performance to be presented in the building. The redevelopment will also feature a basement rehearsal suite for creative learning programmes, community use and skills development. A front extension to the building has been planned to facilitate a two-story brasserie bar for all day dining and pre-theatre meals, alongside a rooftop terrace bar for evening drinks and functions.

The plans, which have been in development for the past few years, is focused on providing the South East of London with a year round producing theatre, with it’s own artistic leadership and development teams - modelled on successful producing venues in London such as the Almeida Theatre and Lyric Theatres, to offer a stage for world class work, with ambitions to transfer productions into the West End, or into major arts centres across the UK and internationally. The ‘flagship’, artistically driven building offers the company, who have their HQ in the Borough of Greenwich, to bring the highest caliber of artists and companies into the building to co-produce and present work. The venue will be a launch pad for major national tours, pre-West End and Broadway productions, producing in-house shows, as well as presenting external work hereby bringing artists, creative technicians, stage managers, producers and additional jobs to the borough.

David Hutchinson, CEO, Selladoor Worldwide said: “Selladoor Worldwide has been operating in the borough for the past 10 years and we are therefore extremely proud to announce plans to develop the Borough Halls into our flagship London venue.

The theatre will have it’s own artistic leadership as a producing and presenting house, with a year round curated program of events to build into the exhilarating London theatre ecosystem as the perfect space for launching daring, diverse and dynamic work. The Borough Halls is brilliantly placed, as an iconic building and in the heart of the Borough, and our plans aim to build into the already exhilarating cultural capital in the Borough – building audiences, creating jobs and making Greenwich a destination for daytime and evening economies.”

Phillip Rowntree, CFO, Selladoor Worldwide said: “The Borough Halls site allows Selladoor Venues to create two complimentary spaces – a 650 seater main house for larger scale produced work, as well as a fully flexible studio for a variety of productions and artist development programmes, alongside the important community use - offering a home for a number of key local arts organisations to present work. The studio will also be home to the recently launched Selladoor Creation division of the company – which commissions work from leading artists across the world – giving Greenwich the opportunity to see the major productions of tomorrow, first.

Beyond the traditional theatre spaces, we will also have a number of bar and restaurant spaces– including a top floor jazz and cocktail bar offering evening bar and dining with a panoramic view of some of the most important cultural sites including the Royal Observatory, Cutty Sark and Royal Naval College. Key to our proposals for the Borough Halls is that it is a building open and accessible for all. Whether you want to come in for a coffee, a class or an evening at the theatre – it’s a destination for all and adds to the cultural capital of the Borough for both local residents and visitors to Greenwich.”

Barrie Kelly, Chief Executive, Visit Greenwich said: “This proposed investment in the Borough Halls, Greenwich by Selladoor is great news for our visitor economy. The value of tourism has grown by 31% over the last four years in Greenwich and this supports 16,000 jobs locally. We now have a huge opportunity to boost our evening economy where we still have significant capacity e.g. only 7% of our visitors currently stay overnight. This new cultural events programme will support our events strategy, which is based upon creating new cultural events across the whole Borough filling clear gaps such as off-season and evening time in maritime Greenwich. The new Greenwich Festival Theatre will attract new high spend visitors who will give a huge boost to our growing hotel sector too.  And of course local people will have another fantastic venue to enjoy on their doorstep.”

James Heaton, CEO, Woolwich Creative District Trust said: “The plans to bring the wonderful Borough Halls back to life as a festival theatre are hugely exciting. With this and the Creative District contributing to the fantastic community of artistic organisations already working in Greenwich, the Borough is fast positioning itself as a landmark cultural destination.”

Tom Stickland, Theatres Adviser at the Theatres Trust said: “The current state of Greenwich Borough Halls is a great concern for Theatres Trust and Selladoor have here presented a vision for a lively producing hub that will rejuvenate the space and be a great benefit to audiences within Greenwich and beyond. We look forward to working with them to ensure that the plans are complementary to the area’s cultural offer and make the best use of this historic venue.”

The Greenwich Borough Hall is a grade II-listed art deco building located on Royal Hill in the heart of Greenwich. The building is located close to the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage site, which comprises The National Maritime Museum, The Royal Observatory, The Queen’s House and The Cutty Sark. The site is located in The West Greenwich Conservation Area.

The Greenwich Borough Hall is part of a Town Hall complex built close to Greenwich town centre, which was completed in 1939 with designs by Culpin & Son. The building is in the modernist style and the design heavily influenced by W.M. Dudok’s Hilversum Town Hall of 1928-30. It has a solid external massing with fine brick detailing that combines a consistent modern design with a careful use of traditional building materials. The two halls are mostly original with lots of the internal fabric still intact. The original town hall element of the building, now known as Meridian House, which includes the prominent viewing tower and the council chamber, was separately sold by the Council in the 1970s and is now in private ownership and used as offices.

The Borough Halls were last leased to Greenwich Dance Agency (GDA) up until May 2018. Since then the venue has remained empty up until now.

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