The skate park is likely to move to nearby Hungerford Bridge
Skateboarders and street artists are outraged by a proposal to replace the world famous Undercroft Skate Park at the Southbank Centre with a retail complex.
Plans for the development, including proposals for the relocation of the skate-park, are expected to be submitted to Lambeth Council next month.
The plans are part of the centre’s £120m Festival Wing project and could force the historic park, which has been in use since the 70s, to a new site.
But a petition to prevent the relocation has attracted over 23,000 signatures and a festival is being held at the Undercroft from May 4 – 6 to raise awareness about the campaign.
“This has been a part of me growing up, it’s a place where young people meet and communities form,” said Londoner Jennifer Saul.
“It cannot be moved, it cannot be replaced.”
The retail area that could replace it will pay for a third of the project, and a consultation is underway with skaters, who are helping with designs for a new site.
Another Londoner who signed the petition, Joel Mellinger, said “Do we really want another Pizza Express, Nando’s or TGI Fridays?
“The South Bank skate park was created by skaters and BMXers themselves, that’s what makes it so brilliant. They created life out of dead space.”
The skate park, which attracts professional and amateur skateboarders alike, is also a hive of activity for street artists.
The petition has also attracted international support and Stefania Oggioni from Tuscania, Italy, said the park’s cultural value is obvious.
“The astonishing example of open air street art that this park constitutes should be preserved. It is actual collective spontaneous art.
“Furthermore, the park itself is a precious gathering point for a large community of young people who come here to practice a clean sport.”
The park could be located to Hungerford Bridge but campaigners face a battle to keep it from moving as the area is crucial, financially and physically, to the development.
“The skate park cannot remain where it is as the Undercroft along Queen’s Walk is pivotal to the whole scheme,” said a Southbank Centre spokesperson.
“Southbank Centre is committed to urban arts and is proposing a new site for skateboarders, BMX bikers and graffiti writers on the South Bank and visible to the public.”
Lambeth Council leader Lib Peck said they hope to see skateboarding kept on the South Bank.
“The Southbank Centre is a fantastic asset to the borough, which the skate park has become an established part of,” she said.
“We are confident that the Southbank Centre will work with partners and users to find a satisfactory solution for all.”
The Festival Wing exhibition is now open after the completion of the first phase of public consultation and shows how the development will transform the centre’s 1960s buildings including the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery.
Photo courtesy of StephYo, with thanks.
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