Undercroft saved by the Prime Minister’s office?

September 10, 2008 on 1:43 am | In global news | Comments Off on Undercroft saved by the Prime Minister’s office?

A recent edit to the Wikipedia entry for “Queen Elizabeth Hall” added mention of the Undercroft, and Graffiti Archaeology’s coverage of it. Also linked is an article in Time Out London that credits the Prime Minister’s office with saving the Undercroft from development into shops:

Are some government ministers secret skateboarders? We think they must be. Back in January, we reported on rumours that the underpass of the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the South Bank was set to be developed into retail outlets.

Last month Downing Street responded to the campaign with a statement that read: ‘The Southbank Centre (SBC) is an independent arts organisation and decisions about the undercroft are a matter for them. [But] any activity that engages young people can have a 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.’

London’s skaters are delighted. ‘It’s rad, obviously,’ says skateboarder Ninian Doff. ‘If skaters left the South Bank now, it’d be like the Tower losing its ravens – the place would crumble.’

The next battle for the skaters is to get the area returned to the size it was before the SBC boarded up two thirds of it to use as storage during the redevelopment of the Royal Festival Hall.

Also be sure to set aside 23 minutes of your day to check out this excellent documentary about the space. It succeeds wonderfully at explaining why a shared public space like this, with its own organically-grown street culture, is so important to the life of any city.

(found via this photo on Flickr.)

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