Boris Johnson has issued a statement supporting the preservation of Southbank’s undercroft skate park, a week after a petition against the Festival Wing plans was submitted with over 27,000 signatures.
D1v1d via Creative Commons (cc by-nc-nd 2.0)
The Mayor of London has indicated that he supports plans to redevelop the Southbank Centre’s ‘Festival Wing’, but only if the skate park which is based in the building’s undercroft is retained. At a preliminary planning meeting, Boris Johnson said the plans “should not be at the detriment of the skate park which should be retained in its current position. 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.” The Southbank Centre hopes to extend its building by Waterloo Bridge to construct the Festival Wing and glass pavilion to accommodate new and improved arts and cultural space, but the plans would see the skate park, which has been in the undercroft since the sport first started in England in 1976, moved 120 metres up-river under Hungerford Bridge. Long Live Southbank, the campaign petitioning for the undercroft skate park to be saved, is delighted by Johnson’s intervention and the addition of his voice to the campaign. The Southbank Centre is “surprised” by the Mayor’s statement, which places the future of the multi-million pound scheme in doubt. A spokesperson said: “We look forward to hearing how he intends to fill the financial gap that now stands between us and our ability to provide free art and culture to millions of Londoners. In the meantime the Southbank Centre Board must consider the implications for the future of the project if he fails to do so.” The planning application to redevelop the Southbank Centre will eventually be considered by Lambeth Council before it is referred back to the Mayor.