Today (Thursday 20 August) plans are announced for a new 900-seat riverside theatre, the first of its scale to be built in London for over 40 years.
Situated at the heart of Berkeley Homes' landmark One Tower Bridge development, the venue will be the flagship theatre for the London Theatre Company, the new independent producing company founded by Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr, following their departure from the National Theatre after 12 years.
Designed to offer contemporary comfort for audiences and modern facilities for theatre-makers, the new venue will become the only commercial theatre outside the historic West End. The auditorium is designed by Steve Tompkins and Roger Watts of Haworth Tompkins, the Stirling Prize-winning theatre design practice behind The Royal Court Theatre and the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool.
The theatre will also create a new cultural destination, complemented by restaurants, cafes and shops within this iconic mixed use development. The site has been earmarked for a cultural venue of national importance for over 20 years, and was originally set to accommodate the Royal Opera House during the renovation of its Covent Garden home. The venture with the London Theatre Company is the result of a 10-year active search by Southwark Council and Berkeley Homes for the right occupier, both in terms of the space itself and the vision for the wider area.
Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr said: "While London is fortunate in its heritage of Victorian and Edwardian theatres, relatively few new theatres of scale have been built in London in the last hundred years. It feels like the time is right for a new theatre that answers the needs of contemporary theatre-makers and audiences, and which will be the home to our new independent producing company. With our friends Steve Tompkins and Roger Watts of Haworth Tompkins we've been looking for the kind of space, in the kind of location that could galvanise playwrights, directors and actors. We are thrilled to make this partnership with Berkeley Homes and Southwark, and couldn't be more optimistic for the future."
This new riverside hub will add to the trail of cultural attractions to be enjoyed along the south bank and supports the claim by Mayor of London Boris Johnson that London is the cultural capital of the world1.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "Bringing two of the most respected names in British theatre to this part of south London is fantastic news. Their well-deserved reputation and The London Theatre Company's location will ensure it becomes a magnet for theatregoers and other culture lovers.'
The London Theatre Company will play a vital part in establishing the riverside at One Tower Bridge as a destination for everyone to enjoy. In addition to a programme of world-class performances, the new venue will offer a range of schools' initiatives and educational opportunities.
Tony Pidgley, Chairman of Berkeley Group, said: "This is the next big step for the London Bridge area - London's newest and most exciting theatre, run by a theatre director and producer of real pedigree in Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr. After several false-starts, Berkeley is delighted to be able to deliver the world-class cultural facility envisioned by Southwark Council. The London Theatre Company will have a strong beneficial impact upon the area, creating footfall, growth and jobs and consolidating Southwark's status as a major cultural destination. Together with the cafes, shops and restaurants here, we can create the Covent Garden of the south bank."
Cllr Peter John, Leader of Southwark Council, added: "We're delighted to be welcoming some of the leading lights in theatre to Southwark with this fantastic new facility - one of the largest new theatres in London. The excellent work the London Theatre Company will bring to the borough will cement Southwark's reputation as one of London's most upcoming destinations for arts and culture and ensure that local people benefit from the developments happening on their doorstep."
The new theatre is due to open in 2017, subject to financing and planning. The One Tower Bridge development is due for completion in 2017. The additional commercial units are due to be released later this year (2015).