The skateboarders fighting redevelopment plans by the Southbank Centre have won a small victory: last week Lambeth Council announced that it had listed the threatened undercroft area as an ‘asset of community value’ (ACV). This means that the site’s status as a skater’s haven will have to be considered as ‘material consideration’ in any future planning decision, and that campaigners can bid to purchase it if it comes up for sale.
In March, the Southbank Centre announced a £120 million development proposal that involved building a new events space and retail units in the Undercroft, an area traditionally used by skateboarders, graffiti artists and BMX bikers. A planning application for the refurbishment – which also involves creating a new space for skateboarders under the nearby Hungerford Bridge – was submitted to Lambeth in May.
But at the beginning of July, the Southbank announced it had asked Lambeth to postpone a decision on the application while it reconsidered the scheme following a fierce campaign to halt the plans by an unlikely alliance of the skaters, The National Theatre and English Heritage.
A spokesperson from the Southbank has said the centre has no plans to sell the site and it has always recognised the importance of skateboarding at the Southbank Centre, indicated by the plan to provide an alternative skate space at Hungerford Bridge.
The skaters have also applied under the Commons Act 2006 for the site to be given protective ‘village green’ status. Watch this space for news of upcoming Morris dancing and cricket matches in the area… Rebecca Taylor
Correction: The London Loves piece on page 7 in this week’s magazine incorrectly states that ‘the National Theatre, English Heritage and the skaters objected to Lambeth Council’s plans’. The plans were not by Lambeth Council, but by the Southbank Centre.