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Southbank Centre submits contentious skatepark plans

The Southbank Centre has submitted plans to relocate its skatepark, just days after objectors launched a judicial review of the decision not to award the undercroft village green status

The £1 million proposals designed by Copenhagen-based SNE Architects will see the skatepark moved from its current location beneath the centre to a 10 per cent larger facility 120 metres away under Hungerford Bridge.

The relocation of the historic skatepark has been one of the most contentious elements of Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios’ (FCBS) £120 million vision for the wider site.

Earlier this week campaign group Long Live Southbank, which believes the skatepark should remain in its current home, challenged Lambeth Council’s decision not to award the undercroft village green status back in September (AJ 23.09.13).

Simon Ricketts of SJ Berwin, who is acting on behalf of the campaigners said: ‘In the development the Southbank Centre is not giving enough weight to the special nature of the undercroft. It cannot simply be transplanted to another place.’

Ricketts added: ‘By lodging the judicial review the campaigners are hoping to achieve confirmation from the court that the application for village green status was indeed valid and that it can go on to be determined by Lambeth Council. Authorities are still getting used to how village green legislation actually works.

‘We are confident that the undercroft meets the requirements of village green legislation. It has been used by local people for sports and recreation. It is entirely deserving of this protection.’

A spokesperson from Lambeth Council confirmed that the claim for a judicial review had been lodged and said that they would be filing a response with the courts within the next three weeks.

Meanwhile, the new skatepark design, which was lodged with the council today, is said to have been inspired by three of the world’s most famous street skateboarding sites – Bercy in Paris, KulturForum in Berlin and MACBA in Barcelona.

Jude Kelly, artistic director of the Southbank Centre, said: ‘I’m very proud that by creating this permanent new space we are the first cultural institution in the world to fully recognise that street culture IS culture. We’ve really listened to the needs and ideas from everyone about the new space and I’d like to thank all those who have taken part in the design process. I look forward to working with both the current skateboarders and other urban artists as well as welcoming many more users to the site.’

Iain Borden, skater and professor of architecture at the Bartlett, who helped draw up the brief for the undercroft replacement, commented: ‘Søren Nordal Enevoldsen and SNE Architects have done a great job of consolidating all the findings to come up with a brilliant skate spot, which is both bigger and better than the current undercroft. Designed in the spirit of the existing space, the new space will be just as open in design and culture, which will see skateboarding continue to flourish at the Southbank Centre. This offer is unprecedented: nowhere else has an organisation done so much to accommodate and encourage skateboarding and urban arts on its site.’

Søren Nordal Enevoldsen from SNE Architects added: ‘Having skated this spot when it was known as Bird Shit Banks, I’ve really enjoyed working with the project team and other skaters and urban artists to transform this space. I’ve spent a lot of time creating a public area that is gritty and urban in appearance and which incorporates many different features that happen to be great for skateboarding and other urban art forms.’

Earlier this month, the Southbank Centre entered into a legal commitment to guarantee the long-term future of skateboarding and other urban art forms on its site. Enforceable by Lambeth Council, this legal measure commits the Southbank Centre to providing a free, permanent facility and for this space to be open by the end of 2014 at the latest.

FCBS’ 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.

Previous story (10.10.13)

Danish practice wins contest for new £1m Southbank skatepark

Danish outfit SNE Architects will design the new £1 million skatepark under Hungerford Bridge as part of controversial plans to overhaul the Southbank Centre

It is understood the practice saw off Rich Architecture and 42 Architects in the contest to draw up plans for a purpose-built new home for the skateboarders who currently use the undercroft beneath the Brutalist Queen Elizabeth Hall.

The decision to relocate the historic skate park to a 10 per cent larger facility 120 metres away under Hungerford Bridge has been one of the most contentious elements of Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios’ (FCBS) vision for the wider site.

SNE’s scheme would replace the existing ramp near at the bridge with a new ramp in the north eastern corner of the site, with the rest of the plot becoming a large flat floor space ‘bounded by various skateable banks, walls, ledges and steps’.

According to the practice the ‘minimal yet subtle’ scheme would have no roof with ‘rain and water ingress is dealt with by a combination of bespoke guttering and under-floor heating.

It is understood that talks on preserving the undercroft site have broken down between the Southbank skateboarders and the Southbank Centre and a planning application is expected to be submitted later this month which does not include the preservation of the undercroft.

At a workshop last month, the skateboarders had said they would work with the Southbank Centre to launch a crowd-funding scheme to save the iconic site - an offer later retracted by Long Live Southbank, the skateboarders’ protest group. The Southbank Centre had said the would back the crowd-funding campaign as long as the skateboarders agreed to a Plan B for Hungerford Bridge, should insufficient funds be raised in the cash drive.

Recently, Long Live Southbank’s application that the undercroft be given protected ‘village green’ status was rejected by Lambeth Council.

Previous story (23.09.13)

Lambeth throws out ‘village green’ bid to protect Southbank skateboard undercroft

Skateboarders battling to save the skatepark under the Southbank Centre from redevelopment have failed to win ‘Village Green Status’ for the iconic undercroft

The skateboarders had hoped to frustrate the £120 million overhaul of the south London landmark by seeking protection for the space beneath the Queen Elizabeth Hall through the Commons Registration Act 1965.

However Lambeth Council has now announced that the application for the underscroft, which is earmarked for commercial redevelopment to help fund the wider regeneration plans, was invalid (see below).

A spokesman for the Southbank Centre welcomed the decision. He said: ‘We invite the skateboarders now to get behind the design process for the alternative skate space 120m upriver at Hungerford Bridge to ensure the future of skateboarding at Southbank Centre.’

Yet campaign group Long Live Southbank said it ‘remained of the opinion that the village green application [was] valid’.

A spokesman added: ‘We are interested to see that the Southbank Centre are continuing to push their unpopular relocation plans, completely ignoring both the local skateboarders and 130,000 total objections from the wider public.’

In July the group succeeded with an application to list the undercroft as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) under the Localism Act. The move means the group can bid to purchase the undercroft if it were to come up for sale - which remains unlikely.

And earlier this month the campaigners were offered an intriguing lifeline by the Southbank Centre which agreed that if at least £17million could be secured in time, it would look to preserve the area which it claims is currently needed for shops to pay for almost a third of the larger scheme’s financing.

The council’s decision in full

‘The decision that the application is invalid is based on the legal principle that the right to apply to register land as a town/village green is excluded where a ‘trigger event’ relating to the land in question has occurred without a corresponding ‘terminating event’ having occurred. ‘Trigger events’ can include prior planning applications and local planning policies. 

‘The council has reached its decision after taking independent legal advice and conducting a detailed examination of the relevant legal issues. Long Live Southbank and the Southbank Centre were given the opportunity to comment on how the law should be interpreted. Long Live Southbank has been informed of the Council’s decision, as has the Southbank Centre.’

Previous story (AJ 16.07.2013)

Campaigners win bid to list Southbank skatepark under Localism Act

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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