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Southwark Councillor comments on decision to turn Printworks venue into offices

By | Published on Monday 18 July 2022


A councillor in the London borough of Southwark has defended a decision to approve the redevelopment of the site currently occupied by club venue Printworks into a complex of offices and shops, stressing that the venue operation was always meant to be a temporary use of the property.

Printworks opened in 2017 on the site of a former newspaper printing plant, hence the name. It became a popular venue, appearing in DJ Mag’s top ten clubs between 2019 and 2021. Which meant that when the owners of the site, British Land, submitted plans to Southwark Council last year to replace Printworks with an office complex, thousands of clubbers signed an online petition calling for those plans to be rejected.

Nevertheless, the plans were approved by the London council last week. Recommending that approval to the borough’s planning committee, council officials said in a report: “It is noted that a significant number of objections have been received in respect of the loss of the club/music venue currently operating on the site”.

“It is acknowledged that this use has been very successful”, the report conceded. “However, the events use was initiated as a short-term interim (meanwhile) use in 2016 pending development of the building within the masterplan. It was never intended to be a permanent use of the site”.

The plan to build offices and shops on the Printworks site is part of a wider scheme in the London borough which will also see British Land build 3500 new homes. The property developer adds that that wider scheme will include some new cultural spaces, possibly involving the Broadwick Live team who ran the Printworks venue. Though any future cultural activities will presumably be on a smaller scale than what was seen at Printworks.

Commenting on all this, local councillor Helen Dennis, who is Cabinet Member For Climate Emergency & Sustainable Development, told the Evening Standard: “Southwark Council’s planning committee unanimously approved British Land’s planning application to develop the site of the former printing press in Canada Water, which has been used temporarily as Printworks nightclub for the last few years”.

“The site is part of plans to build thousands of new homes”, he went on, “particularly hundreds of much-needed social rent homes, new open spaces, offices, a new public leisure centre, and places to shop, eat, drink and socialise”.

“We know that one of the challenges with ‘meanwhile uses’ of vacant land is that people become very attached to the temporary use”, she added, “but everyone involved in Printworks knew their time on the site would come to an end, and focused on making its tenure there as successful as possible”.

“We are excited to be working with British Land and Printworks operator Broadwick Live to keep a presence on site that will build on Printworks’ success”, she went on, “ensuring that residents current and new benefit from a permanent cultural offer … which has been our intention from the start”.

A spokesperson for British Land added: “We are pleased that Southwark Council has voted unanimously to grant planning permission for the Printworks. The redevelopment of the Printworks will result in the retention and reuse of this iconic building, to create a best in class and flexible workplace, and alongside this, our intention is to work with Broadwick Live and Southwark Council to explore retaining a cultural venue in part of the Printworks”.

As its time running Printworks in South London – and, as it happens, its North London events complex The Drumsheds – all comes to an end, Broadwick Live is now involved in a new London venue called The Beams, this time in East London at the Royal Docks, with a music programme kicking off there this autumn.