Southbank Centre Skate Park Saved from Demolition
London’s skateboarders have saved the Southbank Centre’s undercroft from being redeveloped into a cluster of restaurants and shops, the Telegraph reports. The Southbank Centre undercroft is one of the most important skate areas in the UK.
After a bitter, 17-month-long battle, the two factions involved—the management of the Southbank Centre and activist group Long Live Southbank (LLSB)—reached an agreement on Thursday. A statement posted on LLSB’s Facebook reads:
On the basis of the protections secured by the planning agreement, Southbank Centre and Long Live Southbank have withdrawn their respective legal actions in relation to the undercroft. These include Southbank Centre’s challenge to the registration of the undercroft as an asset of community value, Long Live Southbank’s application for village green status for the undercroft, and a judicial review of Lambeth Council’s decision to reject the village green application.
For their part, Southbank Centre reportedly agreed to renovate its premises without evicting the skaters. It will keep the undercroft open for use without charge for skateboarding, street writing, and other urban activities.
The LLSB campaign started in March 2013, after the Southbank Centre unveiled its plans to turn the undercroft into shops and restaurants. Those were intended to help fund a $196 million redevelopment project for its Festival Wing—a complex formed by the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room, and Hayward Gallery. The skate park was to be demolished and relocated 120 meters further along the riverside.
The plans were met with 27,286 objections by the public. The LLSB cause quickly gained some unexpected advocates such as the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, and Nicholas Hytner, director of the National Theatre, which is also based on the Southbank.
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