In early March 2013, The Southbank Centre unveiled designs for a £120 million redevelopment of its Festival Wing that revealed their plan to transform the iconic Southbank undercroft skate park into retail units. The Southbank Centre proposes to relocate the revered and popular skate park further down the river, beneath the Hungerford Bridge and build a new skate facility there.
However, the Southbank undercroft is a treasured space, known as the birthplace of British skateboarding and has been home to skateboarders, BMX riders and graffiti artists for the last 40 years. This makes the Southbank undercroft the oldest recognised and still existing skateboarding space in the world. The Southbank Centre’s proposed redevelopment site contains none of these features, has no history and lacks the unique, dynamic architecture that has made the Southbank undercroft a globally renowned street culture space.
Later in March 2013, in response to the Southbank Centre’s redevelopment and relocation plans, a petition directed towards Boris Johnson on Change.org brought the issue to national attention. The petition is still growing and has already been receiving overwhelming support, having been signed by over 30,000 people, highlighting the undercroft’s cultural importance to skateboarders as well as the rest of the British public.
Born from support of the undercroft, our campaign, Long Live Southbank, is dedicated to protecting the Southbank, as it is in its current form. We encourage this because we believe its cultural and historical status to be irreplaceable and that its unique architecture and the vitality of the thriving undercroft community should be present for future generations.
On May 4th-6th, Long Live Southbank, held a festival at the Southbank undercroft skate park to celebrate its history and showcase the lively and creative ways the undercroft community bring it to life. The event was a success and brought thousands of undercroft users from different eras back to the space to discuss its history and influences on their lives and we saw and heard a stunning display of creative talent that’s emerged from beneath the undercroft. Over that weekend more than 8,000 people signed the petition and became Long Live Southbank members joining our campaign to fight against The South Bank Centre’s redevelopment plans for the skate park.
Long Live Southbank, are now represented by legal firm SJ Berwin, with whom we’re currently launching an application to protect the undercroft as a village green space under the Commons Act 2006, which would declare the undercroft as a registered significant cultural site of great importance which would allow its current form to be preserved and continue its legacy.
Long Live Southbank is committed to the protection of the Southbank undercroft that has given birth to a rare artistic creativity and community, which continues to perpetually flourish. Join the Long Live Southbank Campaign, support culture over commerce and community over capital in the undercroft.
Long Live Southbank!
For a deeper view, check out the video "Save South Bank", directed by Winstan Whitter & Toby Shuall by clicking here!