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Breakthrough in skateboard stalemate: Southbank to back crowdfunding to save undercroft  

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The Southbank Centre has agreed that if at least £17million can be secured in time, it will look to preserve the iconic skateboarding undercroft from redevelopment

The potential breakthrough in the stalemate over the redevelopment of the Festival Wing of the Southbank Centre emerged on Saturday at the Open Space forum, where the Southbank and skateboarders from the Long Live Southbank campaign sat down to discuss options for the preservation of the undercroft.

The Southbank Centre needs the funding from the proposed retail units designated for the undercroft site to enable the redevelopment of Festival Wing to take place. Retail in the former undercroft is expected to pay for a third of the financing.

But at the forum, Mike McCart, the Southbank Centre’s director of partnership and policy, agreed with Jude Kelly, artistic director that they would be willing to back a campaign to raise funds to save the undercroft as long as ‘there was a plan B in place, should the crowdfunding fail.’

‘We need to agree the amount of funding to be raised, agree the timescale in which it needs to be raised, and agree on the architectural designs for the new space as a plan B, should the money not be raised in time,’ said McCart on the conditions of the proposal. The Southbank recently revealed possible designs for a £1m skateboarding area under nearby Hungerford Bridge (see AJ 09.09.2013).

McCart said that they would need approximately £17million, possibly more, to replace retail revenue and lost financing, and that they may need to raise the money in as little as six months to not jeopardise time-sensitive Arts Council funding.

A report penned by Southbank deputy chief executive Molly Jackson on the meeting read: ‘Southbank Centre said they were very willing to pursue alternative routes to funding and agreed to meet again within the next 2 weeks with all those who were interested to work out how to do this. However, there had to be a limit on the time allowed to this and the minimum to be secured by the end of 6 months.’

The skateboarders said they would accept corporate sponsorship of the undercroft to save the iconic site, but that they would prefer to raise funds through a crowdfunding campaign, built on the back of their petition to save the skateboarding zone, which attained 60,000 signatures.

McCart said a condition of the agreement would be that the skateboarders back a ‘Plan B’ design for the proposed skatepark under Hungerford Bridge as a fall-back plan so that development could go ahead should the funding drive fail. This is a potential sticking point for Long Live Southbank who have thus far rejected plans for a permanent skateboarding home under the bridge.

The closure and relocation of the skateboarding area has been described by McCart as ‘pivotal both physically and financially’ to the viability of the redevelopment.

Even if saved the undercroft would be closed for up to four years during the refurb

According to the Southbank Centre, even if preserved, the undercroft could have to be closed for three to four years during the construction of the Festival Wing redevelopment, raising questions about whether the Hungerford Bridge site could be redeveloped for interim use by the skateboarders irrespective of the fate of the undercroft.

However the centre’s claims about long-term closures have also been disputed by the Long Live Southbank campaigners, who told the AJ that there was ‘no legal reason the undercroft would need to be closed for any significant length of time’.

The Open Space forum on the redevelopment of the Southbank was facilitated by Improbable. Reports from the day, which held open forum discussions on a range of issues, can be read here: http://www.devotedanddisgruntled.com/events/southbank-festival-wing/

Previous story (AJ 11.09.2013)

‘Thank you, but no’: Southbank skateboarders slam relocation visions

Skateboarders campaigning against the demolition of a skate park as part of the Southbank Centre overhaul have hit out against relocation options mooted this week

In an online video Chewy Cannon and Henry Edwards-Wood of the Long Live South Bank campaign group warned few skateboarders would use the new facility and called on the prestigious arts centre to abandon the relocation and ‘stop wasting money’.

Defending the existing skate park beneath the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Edwards-Wood said: ‘People come to the undercroft because it’s open [and] right in the centre of everything but mainly because it’s a found place.

‘They come because of the history because there are generations of skateboarders there who have laid the foundations – we’re almost like an indigenous tribe there.’

LLSB response to Southbank skate park relocation plans

Competing visions for a new £1 million skatepark were unveiled earlier this week. The three options by SNE, Rich Architecture and 42 Architects demonstrate how the skate boarding area could be made 10 per cent larger by moving it 120 metres from its current home.

The rival schemes were unveiled despite the Thamesside arts centre agreeing to rethink its £120 million overhaul amid pressure from CABE, the National Theatre and skateboarders. The British Film Institute became the latest neighbour to raise concern this week.

The visuals were revealed just days before a planned open forum where Southbank directors hope to reach agreement with opponents to the scheme.

The proposal to relocate the historic skate park from beneath the Brutalist Queen Elizabeth Hall to nearby Hungerford Bridge has been one of the most contentious elements of Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios’ redevelopment vision.  

More than 60,000 signatories have backed a petition started by skateboarders campaigning against the relocation.


Southbank skatepark: The rival schemes

42 Architects' Southbank skate park proposal

42 Architects’ Southbank skate park proposal

The design by 42 Architects proposes the replacement of the existing ramp with a new ramp in the North East corner of the site and a significant flat-floor space bounded by various skateable banks, walls, ledges and steps. These create the possibility of a varied set of routes, movements and activities across the site. The design is further articulated by the angularity and juxtaposition of elements and by the inclusion of cracks across the flat floor. A demountable/accessible roof is proposed and the overall appearance is of a complex, yet coherent set of spaces with a strong atmospheric quality.

SNE Architects' Southbank skate park proposal

SNE Architects’ Southbank skate park proposal


SNE Architects’ design proposes the replacement of the existing ramp by a new ramp in the North East corner of the site. The rest of the site accommodates a large flat floor space bounded by various skateable banks, walls, ledges and steps, which create the possibility of a varied set of routes, movements and activities across the site. No roof is proposed – rain and water ingress is dealt with by a combination of bespoke guttering and under-floor heating. The overall appearance is minimal yet subtle.

Rich Architecture's Southbank skate park proposal

Rich Architecture’s Southbank skate park proposal


Rich Architecture’s design proposes the retention of the existing ramp, which is partially cut underneath to provide access and visibility towards the North End. The rest of the site accommodates a large flat floor space, which can be inhabited by temporary skateable elements, bounded by a limited number of skateable banks, walls, ledges and steps. No roof is proposed – rain is dealt with by bespoke guttering. The overall appearance is of a ‘light touch’ approach, largely retaining the existing space in an as-found condition.







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