All change by the river as Second Floor Arts becomes Thames-Side Studios

Second Floor Arts open studios

Second Floor Studios & Arts, the thriving art community on the Charlton/Woolwich border, is now operating under a new identity, with its two directors moving onto a new project in Deptford.

Since opening in 2010, Second Floor has grown to become London’s largest affordable studio space project for artists and makers, with 450 members. Its twice-yearly Open Studios weekends are a highlight of the local calendar.

Now the Warspite Road outfit has been renamed Thames-Side Studios after directors Matthew Wood and Nichole Herbert Wood took out a lease on 75 new studios in the under-construction Deptford Foundry development in Arklow Road, close to the railway junction between Deptford and New Cross stations. The Second Floor name is moving with them, along with the No Format gallery name.

Thames-Side Studios is now in the hands of the building’s freeholder, which says on its website it is “committed to the continuing provision” of spaces for artists. With work on extending the Thames Path past the studios’ front door due to be completed by spring 2017, there’s potential for the site to get even more popular- particularly if the Open Studios weekends continue.

While the whole riverside area is scheduled for redevelopment in the coming years, Greenwich Council has signalled that it wants to see the buildings kept and used by creative industries.

While they’ll still be based reasonably locally, the Second Floor team will be a hard act to follow. With grandiose plans under way for a “creative quarter” in the Royal Arsenal development, their departure across the Lewisham border is a big loss to Greenwich borough as a whole.

Cuts U-turn: Maryon Wilson Animal Park finally set to stay in council hands

Maryon Wilson Park

Greenwich Council is set to keep control of Maryon Wilson Animal Park, finally abandoning plans to spin the centre off into a charitable trust and ending five years of uncertainty about its future.

The council first announced plans to scrap the park’s budget in December 2010, with a view to looking for sponsorship.

After widespread protests, the council agreed to hand over management to a trust, Maryon Wilson Animal Park Ltd (MWAP) which would raise funds and operate the park.

But the trust has struggled to raise the funds needed to take on the park – believed to be about £100,000 per year. Last year, the Friends of Maryon and Maryon Wilson Parks published published an open letter to council leader Denise Hyland asking for her to reconsider the decision to spin the centre off, made by her predecessor Chris Roberts.

While the council has deleted £42,350 – the cost of a stockman, vet fees and animal feed – from its parks budget, it has continued to run the park in the meantime, with last year’s running costs put at £70,000.

Now, if the council’s cabinet agrees on Wednesday, it will keep control of the park, and MWAP will become a Friends group, raising money and supplying volunteers – just as it proposed in last year’s open letter.

The council says it will hold a “complete review of revenue and capital expenditure” on the site and look to “reduce costs incrementally”.