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Grounds for hope

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Good vibrations reach Astragal concerning Rick Mather's South Bank masterplan, now complete enough for a round of consultation and analysis. The big question is whether to keep or demolish the 60s buildings - most consultees so far have expressed a desire for brand-new buildings, but the jury is still out. On two other matters, however, constructive approaches have been adopted. First, the ingenious tunnel scheme devised by aj columnist Paul Hyett is being pursued. This connects the arts complex to Embankment Underground station via a foot tunnel (with travelators) resting on the bed of the Thames (engineer Alan Conisbee). The second concerns the desire of locals to extend Jubilee Gardens, replacing a surface car park next to Hungerford bridge. The South Bank Centre wants to put cars underground and put a new building on the site. Astragal hears that Mather has combined all this, suggesting inserting a building into a sloping garden, thereby giving everyone what they want. Locals have been taken to Paris to see how it can be done. Bon chance!

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