Archive for January, 2014

Press Release: Mayor of London Boris Johnson speaks out in support of preserving London’s iconic skate spot

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Press Release: Mayor of London Boris Johnson speaks out in support of preserving London’s iconic skate spot

Long Live Southbank is delighted by Boris Johnson’s intervention, as London Mayor, to add his voice to the campaign to preserve the Southbank Undercroft skate spot. The Mayor has indicated that the Southbank Centre’s Festival Wing redevelopment should not be at the detriment of the undercroft skate spot, which he stated should be retained in its current position. Given his ability to direct refusal of the application were the Southbank Centre to continue with it, this is a huge and decisive step in maintaining one of London’s most iconic cultural landmarks.

The Mayor’s statement comes one week after hundreds of skateboarders made the journey from Southbank to Lambeth Town Hall to deliver a record-breaking 27,286 objections to the Southbank Centres controversial Festival Wing plans, in a bid to halt what has become the most unpopular planning application in UK history.

The Mayor said:

“”The skate park is the epicentre of UK skateboarding and is part of the cultural fabric of London.

“This much-loved community space has been used by thousands of young people over the years.

“It attracts tourists from across the world and undoubtedly adds to the vibrancy of the area – it helps to make London the great city it is”

For over 40 years skateboarders have been a resident community at London’s Southbank, creating one of the most recognised creative spaces along the Thames. Now also used by other forms of street culture such as BMXers and graffiti artists, it is internationally renowned, and the oldest surviving skate spot in the world.

In April this year the Southbank Centre, which administrates the site, announced a redevelopment plan which would see the skate space turned into commercial retail units. Since the announcement over 67,000 people signed a petition against the destruction of this iconic landmark, and over 100,000 people have joined campaign group Long Live Southbank to commit their support for its preservation.

LLSB now call on the Southbank Centre to:

– Withdraw its current planning applications for the Festival Wing and a proposed “replacement” skateboarding area under Hungerford Bridge

– Work with LLSB and all other users of the undercroft to guarantee now its longterm future.

– Withdraw its challenge to Lambeth Council’s designation of the undercroft as an asset of community value

– Withdraw its resistance to LLSB’s claim that the undercoft be registered as a village green, so as to protect it for future generations

– Withdraw its threat that it would close the undercroft regardless of the Festival Wing scheme


Note to editors:
– The campaign is been supported by high profile people from across the art forms such as; Lauren Lavern, Russell Brand, Arlene Phillips CBE, Bonnie Greer OBE, Mike Tyson. Frank Skinner, Damien Hirst, Kate Nash, Carrie Hope Fletcher, Spike Jonze, Katy B, Tony Hawk, Doc Brown, Fred Durst, Lucy Lui. Rita Ora, Alex Day.

– On 4th July 2014 Long Live Southbank delivered over 14,000 individual objections to Lambeth Council. On the same day the Southbank Centre asked Lambeth Council for more time.

LLSB at the Hungerford Bridge Design Meeting

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On The 23rd of October, the Southbank Centre held the first of 3 meetings to design the Hungerford skate space, ignoring the 70,000 members of LLSB who object to the planned redevelopment of the famous Undercroft. LLSB activists attended in a observational capacity and exposed that there were no undercroft users or young people in attendance.

In the end we were asked to stop filming by the event’s organisers but the above video acts as a revealing insight into the evasive and secretive tactics of the Southbank Centre. The body language and tone of the SBC employees is pretty telling. At present, having hand delivered another record number of objections to lambeth council we are currently waiting on a verdict from either Lambeth or the London Assembly planning committee. We will keep you informed as soon as we know more.

2 January 2014: Long Live Southbank skate on Lambeth!

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Photograph by Sophia Bennett

The day started with the eager and dedicated skaters of London’s Southbank cleaning and sweeping the undercroft area, an area that appeared to have been neglected after successful New Year’s Eve celebrations, in preparation for perhaps the most significant day in the campaign’s history.

In the past two weeks, more than 20,000 physical forms had been filled in, signed, checked, scanned, packed up and were ready for more than a hundred skaters to skate the 3 mile journey from the undercroft to Lambeth Town Hall to deliver the objections to the Southbank Centre’s planning application. In total Long Live Southbank has collected over 27,000 objections both online and in person to the SBC’s plans to use the current skate area for more retail outlets and restaurants.

Working to save the much loved iconic landmark the Long Live Southbank team were still counting objections as the event began.  At the undercroft, it was business as usual, as a team of dedicated volunteers assembled as they have done on most days for the last 9 months to gather more objections from the public. The public support has been overwhelming; on most days of the two week opportunity to gather objections we have received nearly 2,000 every day.


Photograph by Sam Ashley

The people who have filled in our objection form understand that a designed, purpose-built and “allowed” space will not develop into the spiritual home with the rich cultural history that the current undercroft area has grown to have over the last forty years. As campaign member, Jason Caines explained, “Taking it away and transforming the place will rip the heart out of it.”

The magnitude of the campaign and the support it has gathered in recent weeks was reflected in the attendance of the UK media’s most high profile press including BBC London, ITV London, BBC Radio London who all featured LLSB on their daily output. They came with us as young campaigner, Rueben, led the way through the London streets to Lambeth Town Hall where they finally delivered 27,000 objections in the form of 24 cardboard boxes – a wall of objections, quite literally.

Day not over yet, it was then back to Southbank at 6.30 to be broadcast live on BBC London News. The media couldn’t get enough of passion of the skateboarding community and the general public eager to support them. Objections continue to flood in as I type…

Vikki Vile

Long Live South Bank Cultural Inclusivity ~ guest blog by David Holloway

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Photograph by Joshua Gray

I am an urban anthropologist working with young people who has been interested in contemporary graffiti since its emergence in London in the 80’s.  In the 90’s I curated the first graffiti exhibitions in the UK: at the South London Art Gallery and then at the Whitechapel.  Core to the message of graffiti is the appropriation of space; or miss-appropriation, in the eyes of authorities.  Young people rarely have their own space and are in fact excluded or dissuaded from using public spaces.  If you attend any redevelopment planning meetings you will hear positive plans for inclusion of families, young children and the elderly but not young people.  Young people will be discussed in terms of security responses, vandalism, crime, underage drinking, drugs and intimidation.  Consider the perceived negative image of young people hanging around on staircases on their local estate.

Skate parks and graffiti ‘halls of fame’, debunk this idea.  The young people that utilise these spaces create their own loose rules and conventions that create harmonious relationships and organised activity yet remain edgy, spontaneous and creative.  The Undercroft is the supreme example of how young people have appropriated a space that has become their own.

The political importance is that they have grabbed this space in the nation’s cultural centre, a place that originally and generally excludes them.  This is anathema to the youth-initiated postmodern cultural expression underlying much of the contemporary art of the Southbank’s exhibition and performance spaces.

The proposed skateboard park under Hungerford Bridge (or wherever it is) is a red herring. It would be an ‘allowed space’, probably fenced, Southbank Centre owned and controlled.  Basically, it completely misses the point.

The Undercroft is a territory hard won and will be hard lost.  The move to close the Undercroft is not only a matter of commercial interest over cultural values, it is a matter of cultural disenfranchisement of young people already politically, economically and educationally marginalised and excluded.

David Holloway OBE is CEO of the Ideas Foundation

LLSB deliver record number of planning objections to Lambeth Council

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Today, Long Live Southbank delivered over 26,000 individual planning objections to Lambeth Town Hall. The Southbank Centre’s hugely unpopular ‘Festival Wing’ plans would involve infilling Southbank Undercroft – the home of British skateboarding for four decades – with retail units, and relocating skateboarders to a new purpose-built ‘skateable space’ under Hungerford Bridge, lacking any of the history, character or cultural value of the Undercroft.

Long Live Southbank now has over 100,000 members, with supporters from all over the world. With this new UK-record-breaking number of planning objections, surely it is time for Lambeth Council to listen to the people, and to save the Undercroft!