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Campaigners win bid to list Southbank skatepark under Localism Act

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Skateboarders have moved a step further in their bid to protect the Southbank’s undercroft from development

Lambeth Council has approved the application to list the undercroft as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) under the Localism Act. The new status for the skaters’ haven under the south London landmark will have to be considered as ‘material consideration’ in any future planning decision.

The campaign was launched by a group calling themselves Long Live Southbank, who have also launched a petition, amassing more than 59,000 signatures against the development.

Simon Ricketts at SJ Berwin, who is representing Long Live Southbank, commented on the decision: ‘From before the Festival Wing application was made, [we have] pointed to the importance of the role that the undercroft plays.

‘Lambeth’s decision to list it as an asset of community value obviously brings with it a welcome acceptance that the undercroft meets the legal test that the use “furthers the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community”. Separately English Heritage, in its objection to the Festival Wing scheme, indicated that the planning application showed “insufficient understanding of the communal value of the undercroft area”.

‘Plainly, we see retention of the undercroft area as a prerequisite of any scheme that emerges from Southbank Centre’s current scheme review.’

The approval means that, under the Localism Act, campaigners can bid to purchase the undercroft if it were to come up for sale.

This decision makes no difference to our plans for the Festival Wing

In a statement, the Southbank Centre said: ‘As there is no intention of selling the Queen Elizabeth Hall or the undercroft, this decision makes no difference to our plans for the Festival Wing. We have asked Lambeth Council for the reasons for their decision, and will examine them before deciding whether to ask for it to be reviewed.

‘We have always recognised the importance of skateboarding at Southbank Centre, as recognised by our plan to provide an alternative, permanent space 120m away that has also been used for skating. And our request to Lambeth Council for more time was granted earlier this month to allow us to review the scheme – specifically the skate space - with our communities.’

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios’ plans for the Southbank Centre, which included creating a new space for skateboarders under the nearby Hungerford Bridge were submitted for planning in May. The 28,000m² Festival Wing project proposes a new glazed ‘liner’ building and semi-transparent sky pavilion above the Brutalist concrete complex.

DCLG policy on ACVs suggests that this kind of listing can affect planning decisions, but that it is up to the local planning authority to decide whether it constitutes a material consideration.

The campaigners have also applied for Village Green Status for the skatepark. The decision on this had been recommended for refusal by local planning officers but Lambeth’s corporate committee decided to delegate the decision to the council’s director of governance and democracy.

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