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End the delay over South Bank funding

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We now know - the South Bank Centre is 'essential and visionary', in the words of the Arts Council's press release, and, for the Secretary of State, 'vital'. Wednesday 10 December was thought to be decision day by Marcus Binney in a balanced assessment of proposals for the South Bank in The Times. No such luck.

His impartiality was contagious, unfortunately, and emerged as inaction, the ball immediately passed back to the Council to provide 'written proposals on whether and how this vital scheme can be enabled to proceed.' Deja vu - while Paris proceeds, London hesitates.

Time to be clear, the Festival Hall was never an issue. This very good building (just short of the very best) is now in assured refurbishment hands, but remains sadly in need of context. Those advocating 'reverence' do a disservice to both building and setting. Rightly, with its uninhibited glass wave, the Richard Rogers Partnership addresses social and physical ambience issues, confident that advancements in climate control will ensure a comfortable environment. A 'place' can be anticipated now that will equal beloved nineteenth- century galleria and railway terminus precedents. The funding should be forthcoming with no further delay.



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