After a yearlong battle, LLSB celebrates skatepark staying put

Visitors to London’s Southbank are probably familiar with its seamy underbelly, the destination for skateboarders and spectators. Amid the shiny gift shops and smart restaurants lies the last remnants of its brutalist undeveloped past. Underneath the Queen Elizabeth Hall lies the undercroft, a space used by skateboarders since the 1970s. Part of the Southbank’s DNA, thousands visit every year, some even travelling across the globe to skate the famous location.

Southbank skate spot has been saved following uncertainty in its future at the riverside location. The Southbank Centre has agreed to keep the undercroft open for use without charge for skateboarding or BMX riding.

The Southbank Centre had revealed plans in March 2013 to develop the area surrounding the Southbank, and with the regeneration, the area used and treasured by skateboarders was under threat. Apparently to be changed into retail units, as if there aren’t enough of those in London.

Southbank Centre is Europe’s largest complex of art buildings, including the Royal Festival Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Hayward gallery. It’s a 21-acre space and the undercroft area in scale with the rest of the site is hardly anything. Also nearby are the National Theatre and the BFI Southbank, clearly it’s an area where creativity is celebrated, yet the art in skating was easily forgotten by them.

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After these threats to the skate park, Long Live Southbank was created to challenge the Southbank Centre. Lambeth council allowed the undercroft to be listed as an asset of community value in July 2013. In the same month LLSB campaigners hand delivered 12,000 objection forms to Lambeth’s town hall, after rallying up supporters at campaign tables. The next year, 27,000 more objections to the planning applicaiton were delivered on wheels. Campaigners skating the three-mile distance to the Town Hall.

There was high press coverage of the ongoings which helped drum up support. London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson spoke out in support of the campaign saying the skaters adds to the vibrancy of the area and helps makes London the “great city that it is.”

Find out more about the Long Live Southbank campaign and the spot here.

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