Long Live Southbank is the official non-profit organisation set up to preserve and maintain London’s unique and world renowned Southbank Undercroft, and to represent its diverse creative community of skateboarders, BMXers, visual artists and everyone else.
LLSB was started by local skateboarders in 2013 to give us a voice and raise awareness of yet another threat of the destruction of a creative community who turned a dead space into a thriving visual hub which has existed and evolved for over 40 years. The group now has upwards of 150,000 members from all walks of life, art forms and social backgrounds.
In early March 2013, The Southbank Centre unveiled designs for a £120 million redevelopment of its ‘Festival Wing’ that revealed their plan to transform the iconic Southbank Undercroft skate spot into retail units. The Southbank Centre proposed to relocate the community further down the river, beneath the Hungerford Bridge, and build a new (unwanted) skate facility there.
However, the Undercroft is a treasured space, revered as the birthplace of British skateboarding and has been home to skateboarders, BMX riders and graffiti artists for the last 5 decades. This makes the Southbank undercroft the oldest recognised and still existing skateboarding space in the world. The Southbank Centre’s proposal for the redevelopment site was not only not wanted but deemed contrived, fake, restrictive, controlled and contained none of the original features, no history, no support from the skate scene and would lack the unique, dynamic architecture that has made the Undercroft a globally renowned street culture space. The proposed new development was a massive expense and gamble and would have seen the destruction of the resident Undercroft community and its culture. A price too big to pay.
Our campaign, Long Live Southbank, is dedicated to protecting the Undercroft in its current form. We know its cultural and historical status to be irreplaceable and that its unique architecture and the vitality of the thriving community should be present for future generations.
During the 2013-2014 preservation campaign, Long Live Southbank, are represented by legal firm King & Wood Mallesons SJ Berwin. We have been successful in securing the Undercroft’s listing as an Asset of Community Value by Lambeth Council, recognising the importance of the space to the local community. In addition, we launched an application to protect the Undercroft as a ‘Village Green’ under the Commons Act 2006. This would have ensured the legal protection of the space as a recognised area of cultural heritage and communal importance. While Lambeth initially declared the application ‘invalid’, we took the case to the Royal Courts of Justice for Judicial Review.
In January 2014, Long Live Southbank collected and delivered to Lambeth Town Hall over 30,000 individual objections to the ‘Festival Wing’ proposals, making the Southbank Centre’s planning applications the most unpopular in UK history. Shortly afterwards, the then Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, spoke out in favour of the campaign, recognising the Undercroft as ‘part of the cultural fabric of London’ and stating that ‘redevelopment should not be at the detriment of the skate park, which should be retained in its current position.’ In February 2014, the Southbank Centre withdrew its planning applications in order to seek alternative sources of funding for their redevelopment project.
In September 2014 Long Live Southbank signed a deal with the Southbank Centre guaranteeing the long term future of the space. Since then Long Live Southbank have continued working to celebrate the space, help other groups struggle to protect their own creative spaces and communities and look at ways in which the Undercroft’s creative community can best fulfil the potential of the space.
We have worked with skate scenes and campaigns all around the world to stop destruction and push positivity. We have been contacted by skaters who has similar issues in; Australia, Scotland, the USA, Greece, Spain, UK, France.
Our most notable successes are:
- Advising and helping out Stockwell Skatepark (UK) https://friendsofstockwellskatepark.com/
- Advising and helping Norwich (UK) skate scene challenge Norwich City Councils proposed skate ban
- Advising and helping Kettering (UK) skate scene challenge Kettering Councils proposed skate ban
- Advising and helping out Atlanta (USA) skate scene stop Black Blocks from having a skate ban http://www.saveblackblocks.com/
- Advising Lyon (France) skate scene stop Hotel de Ville from having a skate ban https://www.change.org/p/save-hotel-de-ville-plaza
There were others we wanted to help but the bulldozers were already on their way including Love Park in Philadelphia (RIP) and Bristo Square in Edinburgh (RIP).
We’ve also given advice and support to many others including cultural music venue, Passing Clouds, and the independent traders of Brixton Arches. Both of whom continue to challenge their destruction by the building owners.
These are our aims:
– To promote the positivity of skateboarding and its culture
– To look after the best interests of Southbank Undercroft and its community
– To promote creative and positive thinking
– To help promote skater owned and independent shops
– To promote skateboarding charities and community groups
– To advise, assist and support skateboarding campaigns
– To stop the practice of criminalising skateboarding and reverse the culture of anti-skateboarding devices