Southbank Skateboarders Oppose Move

Campaigners have rejected plans for a new skateboarding site on London's Southbank and say they want to stay in the space they have used for decades.

The undercroft near the Royal Festival Hall, which has been popular with skaters and graffiti artists for years, will disappear in a proposed multi-million pound development of the area.

The Southbank Centre has published three options for a new skater's section under the nearby Hungerford Bridge which is just over 100 metres from the current site.

Its artistic director Jude Kelly said:

"These architects' designs show what a great public urban space this could be. We want skating and other urban arts to continue to flourish at Southbank Centre and we hope these proposals show we're committed to a permanent, riverside skate space right next to the Royal Festival Hall.

"We also understand that community sites like these are enormously enhanced by organic development through the use and input of the users themselves, which is why I emphasise that these designs are not set in stone. We welcome input from the skateboarders who regularly use the undercroft and any other skaters, graffiti writers or BMXers who want to be involved in helping develop the design."

Henry Edwards-Wood, spokesman for campaign group Long Live Southbank, said:

"The conversation which should be being had is the preservation of the iconic undercroft. This is what tens of thousands of Londoners and visitors to London have signed up to support, and this is the conversation the Southbank Centre are refusing to have.

"Their strategically timed publishing of relocation designs ahead of a public forum is the kind of misdirecting tactic we have come to expect from the Southbank Centre. It is of significant importance that they had previously admitted that their error was not consulting the users of the undercroft, which is ultimately why they are in this position, yet they are readily making exactly the same mistake once again.

"The Southbank Centre have recognised Long Live Southbank as the official representation of the undercroft, yet they seek to undermine us at every opportunity in order to avoid discussing preservation and push for relocation, despite not providing us with any proof that the Festival Wing cannot go ahead if the undercroft area remained intact as it is."