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BFI looks to coach park for expansion plan

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Directors of the South Bank Centre have met with Lambeth council in a bid to pave the way for a new British Film Institute (BFI) centre on the Thames.

BFI director Amanda Neville met with council officers last week to convince them of the need for its expansion plans on the contentious Hungerford coach park site, next to Jubilee Gardens on the South Bank.

And Michael Lynch, chief executive of the South Bank Centre, is due to make a similar appeal by the end of the month.

Officials from the centre are due to walk the site in the next two weeks before the council considers its position.

The presentations form part of Lambeth's public inquiry into the formulation of its new Unitary Development Plan, which is due to conclude on 20 May. The site in question has been the subject of much controversy over its current allocation as Metropolitan Open Land (MOL).

Lynch and Neville are hoping to overturn this classification as part of the centre's refurbishment programme of its South Bank premises, which include the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Purcell Room. It wants to build at least two new auditoria and a new BFI film centre on the land.

The BFI's drive to find room for expansion has led it to consider options such as joining the Guardian newspaper at a Dixon Jones-designed scheme on York Way in King's Cross.

A council inspector will report on the MOL classification by the end of the year.

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