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South Bank multi-project makeover revealed

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Lifschutz Davidson has taken the wraps off plans for a giant 42- project makeover for London's South Bank, including major new multimillion pound buildings and a number of small-scale schemes between Lambeth bridge and Blackfriars bridge.

The masterplan, sponsored by the powerful South Bank Employers Group, which includes Shell, IBM and Ernst & Young, is targeted at community- backed projects such as the construction of a £5 million tennis centre, the practice's previously publicised £20 million lido floating on the Thames (aj 21.3.96) and the refurbishment of parks and playgrounds.

Under the plans, Archbishop's Park will become a new recreational sports site and the new tennis centre will screen off the railway viaduct. New landscaping and lighting will also be provided.

At the Bernie Spain Gardens, behind the Oxo Tower, theatre designer Jeremy Herbert has been selected to design a glass maze as part of a new children's play area and St Thomas' Hospital is planning to fund the refurbishment of its gardens which face onto the Thames and run down towards Lambeth Palace. A pavilion is proposed here alongside a new riverside walkway and cafe facing onto the Palace of Westminster.

Among the more controversial proposals is the plan to shut down Westminster Bridge to cars.

Traffic management is a key part of the plan because of the possibility of heavier flows resulting from congestion charging north of the river and plans to pedestrianise Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square.

The schemes look likely to cost more than £100 million and finance will be provided by a combination of local authority funding, local businesses and sports lottery funding. Public consultation is running until 6 June.

The proposals follow a separate masterplan for the South Bank Centre by Rick Mather Architects and attempt to tackle the areas and routes surrounding the arts complex. Although the two plans do not contradict each other, Alex Lifschutz thinks there is a difference in approach.

'This is broadly in tune with the Mather plan,' Lifschutz said. 'But it's a case of making what is already here better. The South Bank has always suffered from proposals which are difficult to achieve incrementally.'

Lifschutz wants half of the 42 schemes set out in the urban design strategy to be complete within the next five years. 'It's more important to get the small projects up and away and to create momentum for the larger schemes.'

More than half of the 30 proposals set out by Llewelyn-Davies in its 1994 urban design strategy for the area have already been completed.

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