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Southbank Centre ‘still committed to redevelopment’ despite agreeing to let skatepark remain

An artist's impression of the Southbank Centre's Festival Wing scheme. Photo: Miller Hare
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The Southbank Centre has said it is committed to creating new arts and education spaces, despite its planned £120 million redevelopment falling through after it agreed to allow the skatepark beneath the venue to remain in position.

The venue confirmed yesterday that it had reached a constructive agreement with the skaters, which means they will be able to continue to use the undercroft space.

Southbank Centre chief executive Alan Bishop said that despite the venue offering to provide a new, nearby space for the skatepark – which would have allowed the venue to use the undercroft as commercial space to fund its redevelopment programme – it recognised “the strength of support for the undercroft in its current form”.

He re-iterated that the Southbank Centre now planned to continue with the refurbishment of its existing buildings through a £24 million repair and maintenance programme.

This will see the Festival Wing – comprising the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery complex – benefit from work aimed at improving workshops and backstage areas, disabled access for audiences and artists and restoring building interiors to their original appearance.

“We are also still committed to a wider scheme for the Festival Wing, creating new arts and cultural spaces to provide more free arts and education opportunities for millions of people each year, but in the meantime we need to save the existing buildings,” said Bishop.

Campaigners from the Long Live Southbank group said they were “delighted” that a binding agreement had been secured between the group, the venue and Lambeth Council to keep the undercroft open for use without charge for skateboarding, BMX riding, street writing and other urban activities.

It added that it now supported Southbank Centre’s Festival Wing project on the basis that the plans would now no longer include any redevelopment within the skate area of the Queen Elizabeth Hall undercroft.

Lib Peck, leader of Lambeth Council, said: “I’m pleased that Lambeth Council was able to work with both sides and find an imaginative solution to resolve this. Shared public space in London is precious and Southbank Centre is a great asset to the country’s cultural life. This agreement is a sensible way of protecting both and we can all now look forward.”

 

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