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A STATEMENT FROM LLSB: ‘YOU CAN’T MOVE HISTORY’

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Long Live Southbank is dedicated to protecting the Southbank Undercroft and believe its culture and history to be irreplaceable and immovable.

We are humbled by the support our campaign has received for its simple message – that the Undercroft should be preserved in its current form. We would like to thank all our members and supporters who rallied to produce around 14,000 individual planning objections and nearly 60,000 petition signatures. Wherever we turned we found support, from journalists and commentators, to celebrities, MPs and English Heritage and are immensely grateful to each and every person that has taken the time to help and support us.

As a result of the widespread objection to the Festival Wing plans in their current design, the Southbank Centre announced on 4th July that they have put their planning application on hold. Long Live Southbank is pleased that the Southbank Centre appears to have accepted that it needs to review its proposed scheme in the light of the massive outcry regarding the proposed infilling of the Undercroft.

While we view this as a positive step, we remain disappointed that such a controversial planning application was made in the first place, having specifically asked the Southbank Centre to hold off submitting the plans so that our concerns could be taken on board. We therefore consider the planning process to date a huge waste of both public and charitable monies.

We will welcome future opportunities for talks with the Southbank Centre but our position remains clear: that any proposed design for the Festival Wing preserves the Undercroft in its current form. We feel any discussion of relocation, either public or private, is dismissive of the scale and diversity of objections to such a plan. We therefore see no reason for discussions regarding the Hungerford Bridge site to start while the relocation remains theoretical.

We are concerned, in light of the Southbank Centre’s seeming acceptance that the plan needs to be reviewed, that they continue to publicly suggest that this is about skateboarders versus other community activities and high art, when this is not the case. This is London saying that the Undercroft is something precious and worth preserving. Any conflict between retaining the Undercroft and the proposed benefits of the Festival Wing proposals are entirely of the Southbank Centre’s own creation, after all skateboarding and the arts have managed to co-exist in their respective locations on the Southbank for the last 40 years.

Long Live Southbank look forward to a well-thought through creative solution from the Southbank Centre’s team, which achieves their fantastic objectives but retains this special space. On behalf of all those that support the campaign, we are fully committed to ensuring that the Undercroft’s long term future is secured as a community asset and public space for all to enjoy and be proud of.