On the 28th February Lambeth Council said it “confirmed it is upholding the decision to list the Undercroft at Southbank Centre as an Asset of Community Value. Southbank Centre appealed the listing, granted in July 2013, but following an internal review, Lambeth Council’s decision stands”. The decision comes despite the Southbank Centre’s QC turning up at the review hearing to which Long Live Southbank were not invited.
The Lambeth review letter revealed that Southbank Centre’s lawyers used the analogy of the Undercroft being equivalent to the “children’s play area in the beer garden of a pub”, to which Lambeth responded as “not a persuasive comparison”. One of Southbank Centre’s four main claims, which were overturned by Lambeth, was that ‘The use of the Undercroft does not benefit the “local community”’. This further serves to indicate the total lack of understanding that there still is within the Southbank Centre in relation to the special role of the Undercroft.
Long Live Southbank campaigner, Ben Stewart, said;
“We applaud Lambeth for upholding their initial decision to recognise Southbank Undercroft as an Asset of Community Value under the Localism Act. But we are however, very disappointed that the Southbank Centre CEO, Alan Bishop, has indicated that they will again be appealing Lambeth’s decision and that, unlike hundreds of thousands of people including the Mayor of London, the Southbank Centre does not recognise the significance of the Undercroft and its importance to the local and wider community”.
In September 2013 Mr Bishop tried to stop one of the fundamental aspects of Southbank culture by attempting to cancel a skate demonstration. The demos, which have been a regular feature at Southbank skate spot since 1976, are where people of all abilities get to watch, show and practice tricks, alongside professionals from all over the world who come to pay homage to the internationally renowned skate spot.
Despite its present Festival Wing scheme being withdrawn, the Southbank Centre has refused Long Live Southbank’s request to also withdraw the threat of closing the Undercroft as detailed in their ‘unilateral undertaking’ dated 25th October 2013, which states that on the 31st December 2014 ‘the Owner shall close the QEH Undercroft and terminate its use for the Permitted Uses with immediate effect’.
These actions go in stark contradiction to the public statement issued on the 5th February by the Chairman of the Southbank Centre, Rick Haythornthwaite, who said; “Our battle has never been with the skateboarders, whom we have welcomed and guaranteed a future on our site”. In recent letters, Mr Haythornthwaite has asked Long Live Southbank to attend a meeting and forge a ‘constructive relationship’ while refusing to acknowledge or recognise the future of the Undercroft.
On the 6th and 7th March Long Live Southbank will be presenting their case at the Royal Courts of Justice to register Southbank Undercroft as a Village Green. The case revolves around the legal interpretation of restrictions introduced by the Government last year on the right to apply to register village greens. It raises issues which have not yet been tested by the courts and the Open Spaces Society, a national amenity group, is also participating in the case, supporting LLSB’s stance.
Street skateboarding is the fastest growing urban activity, spreading globally, and the Southbank Centre has shown it is out of touch with street culture.
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Notes to Editors:
To read Lambeth’s review in full click here:
LLSB campaign film ‘The Bigger Picture’
Information on Long Live Southbank
Long Live Southbank is the official non-profit organisation set up to preserve and protect London’s unique and world renowned Southbank Undercroft and to represent its diverse creative community of skateboarders, BMXers, artists and visitors.
LLSB was started by the local skateboarders to give them a voice and raise awareness about the threat of the destruction of a creative community who have turned a dead space into a thriving visual hub for 40 years.
Open Spaces Society
The Open Spaces Society was founded in 1865 as the Commons Preservation Society. It is Britain’s oldest national conservation body. Its founders and early members included John Stuart Mill, Lord Eversley, Sir Robert Hunter and Octavia Hill. The last two founded the National Trust in 1895 along with Canon Rawnsley.
Over the last century the society has preserved commons for the enjoyment of the public. It has also been active in protecting the historical and vital rights-of-way network through England and Wales.
LLSB attend London Assembly Planning Committee – Thurs 10 October 2013, 2pm
In October, Long Live Southbank was invited to attend a meeting of the London Assembly’s Planning Committee to highlight the plight of the Undercroft and discuss the importance of the Localism Act’s Assets of Community Value scheme. After a positive and constructive discussion, Assembly Member and Committee Chair, Nicky Gavron, told LLSB, “You’ve had a lot of support around the table from members. In fact, you’ve had total support from members.”
Stats and Facts
100,000+ LLSB members
40,000+ objections to planning application (the highest number in UK history)
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson:
“”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”
Nicky Gavron – Assembly Member and Planning Committee Chair
“You’ve had a lot of support around the table from members, in fact, you’ve had total support from members”
Tony Hawk – Professional Skateboarder
“Preserve the integrity of Southbank, a sanctuary for skateboarders, and an important part of London history”
“It’s truly an historic feature of London street culture”
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, Derren Brown, Major Lazer, Patrick J Adams