All The World’s A Stage…

…except the Greenwich Playhouse, that is.

You know, when I first heard that the owners of the now-ex-Greenwich Playhouse were closing it down, I was at first outraged. Then I made a mistake.

Now. I make a lot of mistakes, as any regular reader of this blog knows. I usually blush, admit my stupidity/naivity /ignorance and chalk it up to experience. That’s why I’ll never be a politician.

And here’s another prize Phantom boo-boo.

I decided to actually believe the Group Operations Director of Beds and Bars (who own the building), six months ago, when he went on record in The Wharf as being an outraged, deeply-hurt, hard-done-by landlord accused of something he’d never dream of doing. Go on, enjoy it – it makes entertaining reading now.

So – he didn’t want to cash in on the Olympics – heaven forbid! How could anyone…honestly - he was shocked at the thought. He wasn’t going to lose Greenwich’s Playhouse, he just wanted a more diverse programme than the one resident group, Galleon Theatre Company. Hell – he was going to put the show on right there and run it himself!

Okay, I thought. Fair enough, perhaps he just wants to branch out. Could actually be quite interesting, with a varied fare of new material. Cool.

So I – and many others – held back.

But a few weeks ago, it seemed they’d changed their tune:

Ex-Greenwich Playhouse landlords, Beds and Bars, have illegally embarked on building works to convert the theatre on Greenwich High Road into hostel facilities for backpackers attending the Olympics. They have not obtained planning permission and have been issued with a legal notice by the planning department at Greenwich Council instructing them to stop the conversion of the 20-year-old theatre space immediately. Ex-resident Galleon Theatre Company is urging its supporters to email Greenwich Council and Greenwich MP Nick Raynsford, to request that Beds and Bars are forced to comply with the law.

(Arts Professional)

I guess I shouldn’t have been so naive. The clue was in the name – it wasn’t Beds & Bars & Theatre, after all.

It’s not even as though they gave running the theatre themselves a go and realised it was going to fail – to my knowledge not one single show has gone on in the space since the Playhouse was closed.

It now seems that Beds and Bars HAVE finally applied for permission; I don’t know whether building work is ongoing, pending decision, or finished and they’re already back-packing ‘em in (despite the application still being in consultation).

Here is the application. I don’t know what you feel about losing a theatre and gaining a bunch of cheapo bunk beds instead, but I think what makes me most angry is the protestations of injured innocence on the part of Beds and Bars six months ago, throwing naive Phantoms like me off the trail, only to totally shaft us later on.

It’s still theoretically in consultation period. Just saying…

BTW I note that my link seems to be very slow on the application.

Here is a detailed account of how to object.

1. Please click on the following link (it may need copying and pasting)

2. Click on ‘View on line form’ and on the next page select ‘if you do not have a reference number’, this will open up the brief Planning Objection form. Please remember, after adding your comments, to select under ‘options’ – OBJECT.

3. Other useful information: Application number: 12/1764/F. Case Officer Jacob Jaarsma Tel: 0208 921 5438;

the attachments to this post:

Ex Greenwich playhouse
Ex Greenwich playhouse

Ex Greenwich playhouse 2
Ex Greenwich playhouse 2

11 Comments to “All The World’s A Stage…”

  1. Sailor Saucy says:

    This is appalling. I lived in Greenwich a few years ago and have fond memories of seeing an excellent production of Hedda Gabler at the Playhouse…

    I’m moving back to the area soon and had really looked forward to spending a bit more time in this unique and intimate little venue – but reading about this whole sorry saga has put paid to that ambition.

    What a shower of sh*ts they are.

  2. Frankln says:

    What s/he said ^. But I would add “scurrilous scum-sucking shyster” between “of” and “sh*ts”.

  3. Capability Bowes says:

    The old adage “If it sounds too good to be true – its not true” holds.

  4. Capability Bowes says:

    “We’re looking at what we can do with it and have made no application to change the space.”

    Well that bit of the article was true, at least. They made no application to change the space. They just changed it.

  5. Chris says:

    Is Greenwich the only place where large companies just go ahead with their schemes and wait for locals to make a fuss before reluctantly applying for planning permission?

    Shouldn’t here be a system whereby these firms are fined for their arrogance and assumption that because they are big they can do as they please?

  6. Jules says:

    A few years ago now, when I challenged the developer’s deviation from approved plans on Mumford’s mill and after being batted to and fro between Greenwich planners and the abject failure that is English Heritage a few times I was, in all seriousness, given this excuse by Greenwich Planners;
    “We do not intend to challenge this developer legally as our legal department has a poor record in this field so we feel that it would be an irresponsible use of council-tax payers money.”

    Bless !

  7. Peter Clarke says:

    This is typical of this type of Greenwich High Road pub. It is a disgraceul outlet and the only thing that lent it a reason to exist was the Playhouse. This building of Hostel facilities should be opposed by all residents, theatre lovers and the council.

  8. Daniel says:

    Not withstanding the ‘who said what’ elements of this (and TGP is right in pointing out the earlier denials) this is still a business choosing what it does with its property which it is perfectly entitled to do. The theatre company was also a business despite its very good PR making it out to be a community service. Bit daft of the owners not getting planning permission granted but why this snobbishness?

    1. What is wrong with ‘cheap’ accommodation. The same people moaning about this would just as quickly complain about ‘overpriced accommodation’ in Greenwich. Hostel accommodation already exists in this property anyway.

    2. And the old ‘higher purpose’ argument about arts. What makes theatre more important than tourism?

  9. Peter Clarke says:

    The above person is no-doubt in the employ of this bar or one of the others in the high street. The Greenwich ‘village’ area needs to be recovered for it to gain a bit of class and get rid of these cheap booze oulets.
    Get real Dan!

  10. Daniel says:

    Haha. I’m in the employ of the place because I have a view that you dont like Peter (or may I call you Pete)? You needed the inverted commas around village because this isn’t a village – that’s just what certain people, no doubt those you’d describe as ‘having the right class’, want it to be known as. Greenwich, as with the rest of our country, is made up of different types of people. Some, heaven forbid, may want different things to you or hold different views.

  11. Peter Clarke says:

    To replace a theatre that has been of great benefit to the city as well as Greenwich to be replaced by an bunk beds is wrong. There are enough facilities of this kind, and where they seem to pop up (look at Deptford) they give the wrong tone. This is the portal to Greenwich and this bar is a public nuisance at the weekend already. More culture please and less cheap booze and crass bars. Arrive in the station at 11 at night and walk down to the Cutty Sark where I live and its like running a tunnel of drunks, chavs and pee. No more Belushis and their type please.