Discuss the future of Skateboarding at Southbank

NewSouthbankCentre

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.

Nick Zorlac, FS wallride grab off. Southbank.

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:

Does skateboarding have a future at Southbank

Words by Henry Edwards-Wood

Photo’s courtesy of Dom Marley

Mark ‘Fos’ Foster one foots London’s most prestigious spot.

fosheroinskateboardssouthbankThis Wednesday (23rd February 2011) saw what will hopefully be the first of many Southbank user meetings at the Royal Festival Hall. The meeting was organised by the Southbank Centre and its aim was to open communications between themselves and the skateboarding community who use the Undercroft area.

Before the meeting I was fearful that we would be told that Southbank was going to be shut down or we were to be relocated to some crappy skate park somewhere else, a fear shared by my fellow SB locals and London skateboarders alike. However the other meeting attendees and I were pleasantly surprised. It seems as though Southbank is here to stay for the foreseeable future, and what’s more the SB authorities have said they will work closely with the skaters to improve the space.

It was established that BMX riders did not care about SB as there was not one present at the meeting. We spoke about the serious injury a BMXer caused a pedestrian last year and voiced how BMXers are dangerous and ignorant and should have no place in the Undercroft (as it used to be). The skateboarders were also quick to ask why graffiti had been allowed to take place in Southbank for the past four years. The organisers had no idea that we objected to the graffiti, in fact they thought we loved it as it was part of the “urban culture” that everyone so easily pigeon holes us into. The meeting organisers, Julia Sawyer and John Gray were very receptive to these revelations and have vowed to address the graffiti situation as well as to look at banning BMXers from riding at Southbank.

Other topics that were discussed were better lighting, replacing the original railings and adding barriers to separate the public, more bins, the temporary beach that will be opposite the Undercroft in the summer and CCTV that will be installed. They also said that they would provide us with squeegees and other equipment for us to dry the floor when it is wet down there, which is a result.

Andrew Brophy floats one of his legendary ollies high above the rubble.

AndrewBrophyolliesouthbankskateboarding

These meetings will now be held quarterly and there is talk of setting up a page on the Southbank Center website to allow for the skateboarding public to be kept up to date with the goings on in the Undercroft. Some changes will be almost instant, some will be more long term, but the bottom line is that Southbank isn’t going anywhere!

Overall this is a massive result and a good start to what will hopefully become a strong alliance with the Southbank Centre authorities. The notes from the meeting will be written up and emailed to the attendees so keep your ears peeled for more info on the changes to our beloved Undercroft.

Scroll down to comment on this first session or discuss it on our facebook page.