Preservation, not relocation

Desks comparitive graphic final
This morning the Southbank Centre issued a statement revealing their proposed plans to replace the undercroft skateboard, BMX and street arts space located underneath Queen Elizabeth Hall with a new location underneath the Hungerford Bridge – a scheme that did not feature in their original proposals and is subject to a separate planning application.

These plans have again appeared before any current users of the undercroft have been consulted. The Southbank Centre has admitted their error in the original Festival Wing plans was not consulting the users of the undercroft, yet they are readily making exactly the same mistake once again and trying to force their plans on the public.

The timing of the release ahead of the Festival Wing Open Space Forum this weekend, where the highly criticised Festival Wing scheme is to be discussed, is typical of the tactics we have come to expect from the Southbank Centre, who are keen to distract people from their beleaguered plans.

The conversation which should be taking place is the preservation of the iconic undercroft and its forty years of history. This is what tens of thousands of Londoners and visitors from further afield have signed up to support, and this is a conversation the Southbank Centre are refusing to have. They continue to ignore this message which has galvanized unprecedented public support.

Our position remains the same; any relocation discussion at this stage is premature. At present there are ongoing legal attempts to preserve the undercroft and our campaign continues. In this position we are supported by over 50,000 members, over 61,000 petition signatories and over 14,000 individuals who objected to the planning application.

The LLSB Team

Billy Bragg

So let me get this right: you refuse to meet with the South Bank Centre to discuss the future of skateboarding on the site, then you denounce them for not consulting with the skaters. Where’s the logic in that?

It’s clear from the SBC statement that they want input from the undercroft community. Jude Kelly says in the statement:

“We also understand that community sites like these are enormously enhanced by organic development through the use and input of the users themselves, which is why I emphasise that these designs are not set in stone. We welcome input from the skateboarders who regularly use the undercroft and any other skaters, graffiti writers or BMXers who want to be involved in helping develop the design.”

As is stated there, these designs are not set in stone. The invitation to the meeting this coming weekend remains open to LLSB. You are the representatives of the undercroft community – you should go along and represent.

The South Bank Centre statement in full:

Dear Billy,

It seems clear to me that you can’t read. The statement you quoted refers only to the Southbank Centre’s new plans for Hungerford Bridge, plans that the majority have rejected and nobody in the current communities would to touch with a bargepole.

The LLSB release is saying the conversation that should be had is about preservation of the current Undercroft space, as in the thing that actually exists, not the shiny new PR drawing. That is what the SBC is refusing to talk about, despite withdrawing the planning application in the face of overwhelming public opposition.

Either actually do some research in to what is actually going on, or keep your trap shut. This is the second time you have publicly made a statement full of inconsistencies regarding the truth… or have you forgotten Luke’s cafe ?

Orang Soul

I am not a skater, I am also a passionate supporter of the South Bank as a whole. To lose the undercroft as a skate facility would be a horrendous travesty.
I am a 40 year old Londoner born and raised. I have grown up loving the South Bank and its concrete harsh beauty. Since childhood I have regularly visited the centre for everything from concerts, to art shows, to drinking pints, or to just walk around. I have never been that into skateboarding, but I have nearly always stopped even just for a few seconds to watch the skaters whenever I have gone down there. The place is iconic. It has a soul and history contained within it that you cannot, will not replicate somewhere else.
I wholeheartedly support your no compromise stance Llsb; but I would also urge you to go to the meetings to express your voices. It is not a compromise to go to the meetings in order to state your stance. It does though, give your opponents a stick to tarnish your stance with if you flat refuse to talk.
Keep fighting hard Llsb; but shout your statements up close in the meetings to give your cause even more strength.

Tom Halliday

Personally i think moving them is perfectly reasonable. It isn’t far and its still on the river etc. However i do think Billy Bragg may have missed the point somewhat. If you are campaigning for it to stay exactly where it is, I am not sure entering a discussion on what the new site should look like helps you very much, in fact surely it undermines the campaign.

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