Russians to build new theatre in Southwark

An artist's impression of the new theatre. Photo: Lees Associates LLP
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New plans for a “beacon for the arts” that would see a 350-seat theatre and creative hub built in south London have been submitted to Southwark Council.

Plans for the development, which is expected to cost more than £50 million, also include a restaurant, exhibition and museum space, as well as three rehearsal rooms, alongside commercial offices and an 80-metre tower housing luxury apartments.

The premises’ owners also own the building which houses the Menier Chocolate Factory. The Menier’s building is adjacent to the site of the new development, named Gagarin Square.

It is not the first time that plans have been put forward for this site, however earlier proposals were withdrawn and have now been revised to alter the architectural designs for the full development, including the rocket-inspired tower.

Don Riley, the London representative for the development’s Russian backers, said money for the theatre’s future would be generated by the commercial and residential elements of the plans, which make up roughly 60% of the 13,500 square-metre site.

“Developers were put off in the 60s and 70s by deals for theatres that didn’t work, and have since tried to keep away from community experiences in developments like this,” Riley said.

“An equally decent formula, which is much more exciting for everybody including
the neighbourhood, is to have a theatre space.”

“We hope to bring the West End onto the South Bank here with the glamour and the lights and the fun,” he added.

If planning permission is granted, Riley hopes that contractors will be able to get on site this summer, with a projected opening date of late 2017.