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Boris says 'keep skateboarding under the Southbank'

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London mayor Boris Johnson has said he will support Feilden Clegg Bradley’s (FCBS) £120 million Southbank Centre overhaul - but only if controversial plans to remove the skatepark are abandoned

During a preliminary planning meeting today, the mayor said the ‘much-loved community space’ should remain in its current position beneath the Queen Elizabeth Hall and should not be relocated to nearby Hungerford Bridge as proposed under FCBS’ redevelopment plans.

He said: ‘I wholeheartedly support the principle of enhancing the world-class cultural facilities at the Southbank Centre and am encouraged by many of the aspects of their plans. However, redevelopment should not be at the detriment of the skatepark which should be retained in its current position.’

He continued: ‘The skatepark is the epicentre of UK skateboarding and is part of the cultural fabric of London. This much-loved community space has been used by thousands of young people over the years. It attracts tourists from across the world and undoubtedly adds to the vibrancy of the area - it helps to make London the great city it is.’

The statement follows an on-going campaign by skate boarders against the redevelopment of the riverside undercroft which has been used for the action sport since 1976.

The Southbank Centre submitted revised plans for its 28,000m² Festival Wing project to overhaul the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery in December.

The project – redesigned following criticism from Cabe, The Twentieth Century Society and the neighbouring National Theatre – creates a glazed ‘liner’ building and semi-transparent sky pavilion above the Brutalist concrete complex.

Meanwhile, the Twentieth Century Society – which continues to oppose the development – today unveiled a series of images showing the impact FCBS’ proposal would have on London’s other historic landmarks.

Image showing the impact FCBS’ Southbank proposal would have on the Tower of London

Image showing the impact FCBS’ Southbank proposal would have on the Tower of London (Twentieth Century Society)

The society’s director Catherine Croft said: ‘We would never consider treating an iconic building of any previous century with the arrogant disdain of the current scheme for the Southbank Centre.

‘The proposed massive extensions to the Southbank Centre will overwhelm one of the best groups of brutalist buildings in the UK, if not the world.

‘Attempts to justify such desecration with spurious arguments about financial viability and wider public benefit are just ridiculous.’

Southbank centre’s response

‘We are surprised by the Mayor’s unexpected statement.  We look forward to hearing how he intends to fill the financial gap that now stands between us and our ability to provide free art and culture to millions of Londoners. In the meantime the Southbank Centre Board must consider the implications for the future of the project if he fails to do so.’


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