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The Southbank skate space is about to get much bigger

By Paula Akpan

You’ll know the Southbank Centre as one of the UK’s best and buzziest art and culture hubs. But for more than 40 years, it’s also been the UK’s spiritual home of skateboarding. With its smooth pavements and angled banks, the centre’s lowest level – the Undercroft – claims the title of the longest continually skated space in the world. And now, after a hard campaign to save it for future generations of skaters, it’s about to more or less double in size.

Let’s back up for a second. About 15 years ago two-thirds of the Undercroft was closed off during the refurbishment of the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall, and has remained that way ever since. Then, in 2012, a plan was announced to close the entire Undercroft and move the skaters off the site altogether. But the Undercroft community – fronted by the campaign group Long Live Southbank – gathered public support and eventually reached an agreement with the Centre, safeguarding the future of the space.

Now LLSB has more good news: it has announced that a chunk of the previously boarded-up old Undercroft space will be opened up again, restored for use by skateboarders and BMXers. That’s thanks to a joint application for City Hall funding by the campaign and the Southbank Centre itself, which will turn the third and final part of the Undercroft into a new centre for schools and young people.

Join the skateboarding community to celebrate at the Southbank Restoration Jam on Saturday (July 20), and witness the grand reopening of the old space alongside skate schools, live DJ sets and giveaways. After years of uncertainty, skating is coming home.

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