Mayor Boris Johnson this afternoon said he will only support a £120m plan to expand London’s Southbank Centre if the world famous skatepark in the building’s undercroft is retained in its current position.
Winning the support of the Mayor of London – who has the final say on the planning application – is a major triumph for the skateboarders’ campaign to preserve the space in its existing condition.
Long Live South Bank, a group campaigning against the art centre’s proposal to close the skatepark, has already convinced over 27,000 people to register formal applications to the plan. The arts organisation wants to replace the space with retail units and restaurants in order to help fund its redevelopment.
“I wholeheartedly support the principle of enhancing the world-class cultural facilities at the Southbank Centre and am encouraged by many of the aspects of their plans,” Johnson said at preliminary planning meeting this afternoon.
“However, redevelopment should not be at the detriment of the skate park which should be retained in its current position.”
“The skate park is the epicentre of UK skateboarding and is part of the cultural fabric of London. This much-loved community space has been used by thousands of young people over the years. It attracts tourists from across the world and undoubtedly adds to the vibrancy of the area – it helps to make London the great city it is.”
Johnson’s intervention follows a long-running battle between the Southbank Centre and the skaters, who have repeatedly turned down offers to relocate to a new purpose-built site further along the river.