Proposed plans have been unveiled this week in regards to the future of the Southbank. Over £100m is being talked about as a cost to redesign and redevelop the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Purcell Room and the Hayward Gallery all at the same time. Obviously this would impact on London’s most cherished skate spot so where do skateboarders fit into all of this?
Firstly, this spot is the central hub of the London skate scene and has history as long as the Thames itself. Pretty much every pro skateboarder who has flown into Heathrow has graced the infamous concrete banks there since the 1970s, not to mention the huge amounts of UK skaters that have traveled to skate here to register countless tricks and NBD’s into the spot’s history books.
The thought of Southbank not being there at all is absolutely gut-wrenching. Secondly, if approved, the work is said to take between 2-3 years, so where would London’s skateboarders go when it rains? And what happens when BaySixty6’s latest lease runs out after the 2 year contract that was approved for the latest redevelopment there? London is in desperate need of skate spots undercover and fast. If plans are not put into place soon, 2014 could be the worst year on record for London’s skateboarders.
The Guardian has stated this week that “the skateboarders who use the graffitied area on the riverside will have to go somewhere else – possibly under Hungerford Bridge. There will, though, be a place for urban arts – skateboarding, BMX biking and graffiti art – if it is wanted in the new development.”
We have heard today via Marcus Willcocks (part of the team designated to assist skateboarders in the move) that the proposed new space under the Hungerford Bridge would “open significantly before the existing Undercroft space is used for anything else (at least a year before), so if things go as Southbank propose, there would be no ‘void’ of time without a protected area to skate.”
This leads us to the most important points that need to be discussed openly: What do we all want? How can we make sure that our relocation is prioritised? Will the Southbank have a skateboard facility in the new, redesigned area and will we be relocated in the interim period?
Nick Zorlac hucks a fs wallride off the legendary wall. Possibly the very last trick before it was ripped out. – Photo: Styley.
A website launched today by researchers behind the ‘Socially Responsive Design and Innovation Hub’ at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design. Marcus Willcocks from the group made contact with us on Monday and has been assigned to liaise with skateboarders to see how we can all work together in the best way possible. The website has been set up so you can voice your wants and needs and also post up your memories of the good times too.
This team will also be at the Southbank to meet people on the following dates to discuss their thoughts. Yep, as you will see, there’s not much in the way of advance warning but still, these are the dates.
Saturday 9th March 12pm-8pm
Sunday 10th March 2pm-7pm
Thursday 14th March 5pm-9pm
It’s best to end this with the fact that Southbank will not be going anywhere just yet, so don’t panic. The first round of funding to raise an initial £20m via the Arts Council has only just been approved. A further application will be made in September this year, so this project is still in its infancy and ongoing. Start thinking about this today though as it will be key to the future of our spot. The Southbank has been a home for Skateboarders forever and long may that continue.
All you need to do is have your say. So visit www.southbankundercroft.com and share this article with every single skateboarder you know today.
Reminisce our events at SB from 2006 and 2007 – pre-HD of course: