London’s Southbank, one of the best known, if not the best known, skateboard spots in the city, is not going to be redeveloped, according to an official response from the office of the Prime Minister to a petition signed by 4,293 people from the UK skateboard community.
For those of you who are familiar with the London skateboard scene, the letters “SB” may not just mean a certain make of skate shoe we are all more than a little familiar with. For many “SB” means Southbank – the area on the banks of the Thames, known as the Undercroft, that has been something of a Mecca for skateboarders from around the UK and even the world.
However, the area has changed in recent years with the arrival of restaurants, shops and general redevelopment. It wasn’t long before rumours that the Undercroft would soon become yet another Starbucks started to circulate. Following swiftly in the footsteps of the rumours was Save Southbank, a documentary by Winstan Whitter and Suburban Bliss creator Toby Shaull. Backing up the film was a petition to keep the Undercroft as a place for skateboarders. After doing the rounds of the UK skateboard community, it was delivered to Mr Brown’s doorstep. Well, via the 10 Downing Street website but you get the idea.
Today, those 4,293 people who added their signatures to the petition received a very encouraging response:
The Southbank Centre is an independent arts organisation and decisions about the Undercroft are a matter for them. However, the Southbank Centre recognises the importance of the Undercroft in bringing together skateboarders from across the UK and the value that the skateboarding community has brought to many young people and the South Bank area itself. Any activity that engages and develops young people can have a very positive impact on society and the skateboarding community that has grown up around the Undercroft has brought together people from various backgrounds, created a vibrant public space and added real value to the lives of many young people.
The Southbank Centre has said that it has no plans to redevelop the Undercroft used by skateboarders. In fact, they are in close discussions with the skateboarding community about how to improve the current skateboard area and about how the community might become more involved in the Southbank Centre’s artistic programme.
Here’s to everyone who supported the cause and hoping The Southbank Centre keeps its word.
Pic from Old Skaters