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Lambeth: Mather's South Bank plan 'effectively dead'

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Rick Mather's masterplan for the redevelopment of London's South Bank Centre is 'effectively dead', according to a senior planning official at Lambeth council.

The SBC continues to insist that the stalled scheme is alive and well, but confirmed that the redevelopment is to suffer yet a further delay - the final selection between FO Architects and Raphael Vinoly was due to be taken later this month, but a decision has been moved back into the autumn.

'It's not going to happen, but it's not been publicly stated that it's not going to happen, ' said Andrew Lainton, senior policy planner with the borough. 'We don't like it.We think it's got fundamental flaws, but the South Bank board has never addressed them.'

Lambeth officials continue to remain opposed to the redevelopment of Jubilee Gardens, currently protected as Metropolitan Open Land. But the issue has been further clouded with last week's submission by Arup Associates for the redevelopment of the adjacent Shell Centre (AJ 6.9.01). In spite of assurances from the architect, Lainton said the Arup plan 'does not match up' with Mather's. Lainton told the AJ it has to be one or the other.

'We have two alternatives: we could say the Shell plan is premature, or we could accept the plan and say 'stuff you, South Bank masterplan', ' he said, adding that the SBC is now desperate to save face. 'All they could do publicly is say they've responded to public consultation and that they are working on revisions to the masterplan. They don't want to be seen to be backing off because it will cause them embarrassment.'

Mather denied that the scheme was floundering and confirmed that the architects had 'taken cognisance' of local opinion and that changes had been made to the proposal - but 'not major revisions'. The biggest problem faced by promoters of his scheme was financing, he said.

'But the only way we're going to get financing is if everybody works together - and not take potshots at proposals. That is the most important thing, ' he said.

An SBC spokeswoman branded Lainton's comments as 'hypothetical'. Michael Ball, spokesman for the Waterloo Community Group, said the scheme had all the hallmarks of 'something imploding'.

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