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Thurrock launches new Creative and Cultural Hub in the Heart of the Thames Gateway

The first phase of the High House Production Park in Purfleet, the UK’s first national centre of excellence for technical skills, crafts and production for the performing arts and live music industries, will officially open on 6 December 2010.

The £60 million Production Park has been specifically designed to become an internationally recognised hub for the creative and cultural industries, incorporating state of the art facilities.  It has been delivered by a private and public sector partnership, encompassing education, the arts, local, regional and central Government and the local community. 

It is an example of culture-led regeneration that provides opportunities for engaging with the arts, develops skills in the cultural sector, and positions Thurrock as a national centre of excellence for technical skills, crafts and production.

Despite the current downturn, the exciting and vibrant creative and cultural sector is continuing to enjoy economic growth on a national scale and brings with it a host of opportunities for training and employment.  Acting as a magnet for creative companies, organisations and individuals the High House Production Park will be a catalyst for social, physical and economic regeneration in Thurrock.

The 14-acre Production Park is based on the site of the former High House farm.  The first phase includes:

  • The Royal Opera House’s Bob and Tamar Manoukian Production Workshop: a purpose built workshop which has been created for the Royal Opera House, one of two anchor tenants for the site, for set and scenery construction, including a fit up area for sets and scenery mimicking the main Covent Garden stage
  • Community areas: the original listed High House farm buildings have been restored to provide a café, meeting and exhibition spaces and larger function rooms.  Also on site is a children’s play area and community gardens.  The buildings will be available for tenant, public and commercial use, providing a range of recreational and business spaces that will encourage a greater bond between the local community and creative businesses. 

The second phase of development (due to be completed in 2012) will include:

  • The flagship building for the National Skills Academy for Creative & Cultural: the Academy will provide unique training opportunities for 11,000 16-19 year olds and professionals seeking recognised qualification in offstage and backstage technical skills.  The NSA forecasts a need for 30,000 skilled people to work backstage across the creative industries over the next decade.  The inclusion of the NSA’s purpose-built training facility, ‘practice theatre’, sound and lighting rigs and fly tower, will go some way to addressing this need
  • Enterprise Space: the Production Park will provide up to 10,000m2 dedicated space for independent artists and creative businesses including artists’ studios, offices, workshops and light industrial spaces encouraging small and medium sized cultural enterprises to grow in Thurrock.

Commenting on the opening of the Production Park, Will McKee, chair of the Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation said; “Through the High House Production Park the Development Corporation and its partners have strived to create an inspirational environment which will promote opportunities for learning, networking and collaboration for the creative and cultural sector.  This is a new sector hub for Thurrock and an important one.  With the Royal Opera House and National Skills Academy at its heart, the Production Park will provide employment, education and training, in a growing sector, right on London’s doorstep.”

Facts:

Size of site:

Approximately 14 acres

Number of jobs created: 250
Number of training places: 11,000
Components:  Royal Opera House Bob & Tamar Manoukian Production Workshop
  Community play area
  Commercial and community space in listed buildings
  Community gardens
  National Skills Academy for Creative & Cultural (opening 2012)
  Artist and creative business units (opening 2012)
Cost of development: £60 million
Partners:  Arts Council England
(in alphabetical order) Capital Shopping Centres
  Department for Communities and Local Government
  East of England Development Agency
  National Skills Academy for Creative & Cultural
  Royal Opera House
  Thurrock Council
  Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation
   
 Timeline for delivery:  
 June 2009  Land assembly completed
 June 2009 - Feb 2010   Site groundworks
 Nov 2009 - Nov 2010  Work on listed buildings including walled garden, meeting and function rooms
 Feb 2010  National Skills Academy design team appointed
 March 2010 - Nov 2010  Work starts on Royal Opera House Workshop
 December 2010  Royal Opera House facility opens, listed buildings and walled gardens open
 April 2011  Work on National Skills Academy commences
 Summer 2012   National Skills Academy opens
 2012  Artists studios and SME units open

 

The Development Corporation is seeking to establish High House Production Park Ltd, as a registered charity, which will own the site and oversee the management of the facility in perpetuity.  Businesses and other organisations interested in relocating to the High House Production Park should contact Rebecca Lownds or Matthew Essex, Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation on 01708 895400.