Greenwich Playhouse’s fight for survival and venue supporters worldwide were betrayed by Royal Borough of Greenwich councillor's unanimous decision to grant planning/change of use to an illegally built backpacker’s hostel.
On the 3rd July 2013, at an 'informal hearing', the following Greenwich Councillors unanimously voted to grant Beds and Bars (ex-theatre landlords)'change of use' permission for an illegally built backpacker’s hostel to replace a 25 year old much loved SE London studio theatre. The councillors involved were: Cllr. Ray Walker, Cllr. Hadley Fletcher, Cllr. Dick Quibell, Cllr. Miranda Williams, Cllr. Geoffrey Brighty, Cllr. Neil Dickinson, and remarably West Greenwich Cllrs. Matthew Pennycook and Maureen O'Mara!
This decision was made despite public outcry and thousands of letters and emails from theatre supporters dismayed at the theatre’s closure. The decision also resulted in the loss of a vital opportunity to have the case heard by the Ombudsman 'The Planning Inspectorate'.
Questions should be asked if appropriate and full procedures were followed in this risible decision, betrayal of community needs and the government’s promises of an ‘Olympic Legacy’.
Alice de Sousa, Greenwich Playhouse’s artistic director said: “There is in Greenwich no shortage of budget hostel accommodation. There is however a profound lack, following the closure of the Greenwich Playhouse in April 2012, of quality theatre entertainment.
Greenwich High Road, the main thoroughfare for thousands of daily visitors searching for the Royal borough’s historic and cultural attractions, is littered with rowdy, late night opening pubs. These disagreeable establishments spill out their customers in the early hours and frequently reduce the high road into a place were vandalism, brawls, and violent assaults are common place. This is undermining the quality of life for those living, working and visiting Greenwich - the bastion of many a national architectural treasure.
The Greenwich Playhouse case offered the Royal borough the opportunity of sending out a resounding message that Greenwich would not allow big business profiteering to destroy cultural infrastructure; nor condone illegal building and would apply heavy fines to those found breaking nationwide planning laws. Sadly and despite considerable public opposition, the above ‘named and shamed’ Councillors found neither the courage nor the moral fortitude to do what was right.”
Bruce Jamieson, Greenwich Playhouse co-founding director said: “These Councillors who draw a wage from the public purse, by ‘bowing and scraping’ to big business interests betrayed their community and vacuous promises of an 'Olympic legacy'.
What is most shocking is their disregard for the hundreds of on-line protests, and the world wide expressed disgust at the behaviour of the Beds and Bars Group in getting rid of a well loved venue through flagrantly flouting of the law - something which the council is duty bound to uphold.
Serious questions must be asked as to what this borough’s artistic policy is? We need more than sport facilities and libraries. This is now a Royal Borough, steeped in history and it needs high quality culture. These so called public servants should hang their heads in shame!”
Background to the story: In the lead up to the 2012 Olympics Beds and Bars (aka Interpub, St. Christopher's Inn, Belushis....) refused to renew the Greenwich Playhouse's lease. The theatre had been housed in part of the first floor of 189 Greenwich High Road for some 25 years and drew each year some 15,000 people to work in and enjoy theatre. Beds and Bars originally stated that they wanted to use the facilities 'to exploit commercial opportunities generated by the Olympics.' As public and media outrage followed the news of the theatre’s closure, the company retracted their position by saying that they would retain the theatre but operate it themselves. Thousands of emails and letters opposing the venue’s demise and pleading with the Council to find the Greenwich Playhouse alternative premises flooded the local MP and Council Leader's offices. On the 10th April 2012, the Greenwich Playhouse permanently closed its doors. In a desperate race to capitalise on the Olympics and without, as required by law, first applying for planning permission and change of use, Beds and Bars began illegally building a hostel. Theatre owners reported this illegality to the local authority and it issued the company with a stop notice. Despite this notice the hostel was completed?! The matter has since been subjected to appeal procedures and was due to go before the Ombudsman until Greenwich’s insipid Councillors unanimously ruled in support of illegal building and against culture and their local community’s wishes.
Greenwich Playhouse and Galleon Theatre Company directors continue their search for a new home which received acclaim throughout the world and created entertainment and work during the past two and half decades for hundreds of thousands of people.
- For further information on Greenwich Playhouse and Galleon Theatre Company please contact Alice de Sousa on email@example.com
- Greenwich Councillors involved may be contacted on the following: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Alice de Sousa appeared on Portuguese television to discuss her twenty five year career as an internationally award winning actress, producer and writer. In a prestigious interview on Portugal's national television channel RTP 1 and on its major show 'Nico a Noite' hosted by Portugal's star of television and film Nicolau Breyner, Ms. de Sousa spoke at length about her many past theatre productions and of her future plans for the exciting slate of feature films which she is currently developing with international partners.
For an extract of this interview, please visit heretop
Alice de Sousa and award winning film maker and producer Nicolas Steil have created Iris Productions UK Ltd. a film production and financing company.
Iris Productions UK is the British representative of The Iris Group, a film production group based in Luxembourg, with sister companies in France, Belgium, UK and Germany. The Iris Group has been producing high quality independent cinema, animation and documentary since 1986. The company has produced nearly thirty feature films, many of these have internationally won awards, are regularly selected for inclusion in international festivals and have been selected by the Academy of Motion Pictures in the Best Film in a Foreign Language category.
The Iris Group annually produces four high quality features.
For further information please contact Alice de Sousa on email@example.com
For further information on the Iris Group, please see the website www.theirisgroup.euEmail for more information top
Alice de Sousa, Artistic Director of the Greenwich Playhouse and Galleon Theatre Company, and CEO of Galleon Films, was presented with the coveted award ‘Prémio de Talento ‘ in the category of the ‘Performing Arts’...Download press release... top
Galleon Films Ltd. (UK) in co-production with Iris Productions (Luxembourg - www.irisproductions.lu) will create the first ever filmic reworking of this incomparable classic, which has for nearly four hundred years secured won towering stage performances from the leading actors of each successive generation.
Casting has commenced for The Duchess of Malfi feature film, which will be directed by the 2010 Oscars shortlisted director and Palm Springs Film Festival nominee - Nicolas Steil.More on Galleon Films... top