You may well have heard rumours of what was happening with the Southbank Undercroft, the people behind Long Live Southbank have been working tirelessly, and now it’s official – the Southbank Undercroft will be restored to something like its former glory. We spoke to Louis Woodhead and Paul Richards from LLSB to get the story on this latest victory for people power and the skateboard community.
Images provided by Long Live Southbank
The LLSB project is evidently one rooted in community and passion. How did you first become involved?
Louis: I’ve been skating at Southbank since I was about 14, and although it took a few months from the birth of the campaign to get involved properly, it was very natural. For me it is completely rooted in passion for the spot. There is no way I would be able to put so much time into something like this if I didn’t love the feeling of my wheels on those banks so much
To get an idea of scale, how many people volunteer with LLSB?
Louis: In one respect there is a huge number of people who help out with LLSB in some way or another; photography, illustrations, making products, filmmaking. That aspect is pretty global and every contribution counts in terms of the overall movement. Having said that, the core team who put in serious hours in the meetings and behind laptops and organising everything is relatively small.
What has been the process to securing the expansion of the Southbank Undercroft? How did talks start? How have they been going?
Louis: After September 2014, when the current space was formally saved, we could tell that there was the potential for a far more positive relationship with the Southbank Centre. We spent a lot of time researching the space, writing a series of reports to give us as strong a case as possible. We began having meetings with the Southbank Centre, kept writing reports and proposals about the immediate and wider benefits, until we were all on the same page. And now we are.
“The idea of the project is that any parts that do need redoing will be restored with complete historical accuracy.”
We genuinely wanted to change the conflict into collaboration. We now have an agreement whereby, if we raise the necessary funds, we will be able to open a large part of the old space in January 2018. A section of the space will be used to house the Southbank Centre’s Young People’s Centre for the meantime, but we have agreed to a final stage of complete restoration if, after a period of time, an alternate purpose-built permanent home can be secured for their Young People’s programme.