Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence

Annex 6



  Lambeth Council holds a pivotal position. As the primary planning authority it, in effect, controls the process by which the South Bank Centre's finalised masterplan and individual site proposals will be considered; and thereby the cost to the South Bank Centre, and in the final analysis the public purse.

The Council:

    —  supports the need for a world class cultural centre and riverside park

    —  has proposed a compromise solution for Hungerford car park in its pre-consultation paper for its Unitary Development Plan

    —  has set down the exceptional circumstances it requires to see before considering cultural use on the Hungerford car park site.

  The South Bank Centre welcomes this support. Nevertheless, the South Bank Centre's experience with the planning process in Lambeth is cause for concern. The two Royal Festival Hall applications are still undetermined after 20 months and Lambeth remains one of the country's least efficient local planning authorities in dealing with applications.

  The South Bank Centre has recently been greatly encouraged by Lambeth's commitment to increase the resources in the planning department and to consider a dedicated team to accelerate the processing of applications in the South Bank area. This is wholly in line with the government's recent proposals to modernise the planning system. The South Bank Centre has therefore written to Lord Falconer suggesting a piloting of the ideas in the government's Green Paper on agreeing the key elements of masterplans and on delivery contracts for development control.


  As a new tier of government in London the Mayor and the Greater London Authority "family" (ie London Development Agency and Transport for London) have been inducted into the long masterplan process that proceeded its creation in May 2000. The wide range of strategic responsibilities, with limited and mainly negative powers, give it a paradoxical position in relation to the South Bank Centre's proposals.

  On the one hand the Mayor's strategic roles for culture, regeneration, planning and transport provides him with the ideal remit to lead this cultural project. Yet the Mayor has no effective powers at his disposal to deliver a world class culturally-led regeneration of this part of London other than through encouragement and cajoling ie the Mayor can only direct Lambeth Council to refuse an application not to approve it.

  The London Development Agency continues to financially contribute towards the masterplan process and oversees the £19.5 million Single Regeneration Budget funds for the Waterloo area over the next five years.

  In addition, the Mayor's strategic policies are still emerging and currently in public consultation.

  The South Bank Centre believes the Mayor has the ability to provide significant support, comfort and confidence to Lambeth Council in considering its planning applications. To this end the South Bank Centre will be seeking a meeting with the Mayor and his team and Lambeth Council to secure a common view on the key issues, and agree a common framework for the areas as a whole.


  The Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions is the planning authority of last resort. If Lambeth cannot or will not decide future applications the Secretary of State can call in the applications and determine them himself following a Public Inquiry. This is not a route anyone wishes to pursue, primarily because of the several years delay and the costs needed to arrive at a conclusion. The Government Office for London will advise the Secretary of State on major applications in terms of whether he should review the decision of the local authority once made.

  In early 2000 Government Office for London encouraged the South Bank Centre to lead a strategic partnership in a bid for Single Regeneration Budget funds, much of which would contribute towards improvements to the public realm. This was to complement the Arts Council's lottery allocation for artistic improvements. The role has now been taken over by the London Development Agency.


  Both English Heritage and the Twentieth Century Society have attempted unsuccessfully to have the 1960's buildings (Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery) listed.

  The South Bank Centre, in making any case in its finalised masterplan for the adaption or demolition of one or more of these buildings, will be treating all the buildings as if they are listed. This will add time and cost to securing the approvals. A flexible planning approach to these buildings will greatly aid the South Bank for future development, especially in balancing the arts brief, funding and planning risks.

  Complete demolition is likely to be as controversial as placing development on Metropolitan Open Land.


  The Arts Council has supported both the Royal Festival Hall and masterplan process from the outset in April 1998 and sees the early start of the Royal Festival Hall project as a priority.

  However, the allocation of £25 million of lottery funding spread over four major arts buildings and five art forms, does not compare with grants made elsewhere ie Royal Opera House (£78 million); Royal National Theatre (£32 million); Tate Modern (£50 million); Sadler's Wells (£42 million); Royal Shakespeare Company (£50 million), Royal Albert Hall (£40 million); Lowry Centre (£42 million); Gateshead Music Centre (£44 million) and the Baltic (£38 million).

  At the South Bank, however, there has been no major investment for over 40 years, and this during a period when the number of visitors have grown significantly and the new attractions have sprung up around the South Bank putting the South Bank Centre's estate under further pressure.

  While the Arts Council of England appreciates this anomaly, it is not in a position to increase significantly lottery funds until the end of the decade, given its current commitments and priorities elsewhere.

  The lack of significant public investment in the masterplan is a key factor behind the need to increase commercial development to fill the funding gap (see Costs and Funding above).


  The Department of Culture, Media and Sport is the key stakeholder as the owners of the site.

  The Department has been a strong supporter of the South Bank Centre's efforts to rejuvenate the arts facilities and the site and receives regular briefings. It works closely with the Arts Council of England and has developed close working relationships with the Government Office for London and the Mayor.

  We understand the current priorities for the Department are to proceed with the Royal Festival Hall project and to secure new executive leadership of the South Bank Centre as soon as possible.

  The South Bank Centre is preparing a number of different scenarios within the framework of the masterplan for the Department in early Spring, in search for the proposal that best balances the three elements of the arts brief, funding mix and planning risk.

  The Department of Culture, Media and Sport will then meet with other key stakeholders to seek a consensus for the way forward.


  Shell Centre and the BA London Eye, both of whom border the Jubilee Gardens and Hungerford car park site, have recently submitted detailed planning applications to Lambeth Council.

  Both have expressed their support for the Not-for-Profit Trust for Jubilee Gardens and wish to contribute significant funds to the re-landscaping and on-going maintenance of the park and river walk. In any event the design of the Jubilee Gardens would be firmly within the South Bank Centre's masterplan framework.

  The Shiryama Corporation, who own County Hall, have the benefit of a covenant (for over 900 years) providing them with the right to place a car park under Jubilee Gardens subject to planning consent. They also want to see a world-class park and wish to contribute to the new design. The South Bank Centre and the planning bodies will need to consider how to resolve the long-term future of Jubilee Gardens, with or without the benefit of the covenant being realised.

  The South Bank Centre is currently in commercial negotiation with Railtrack to renew the leases for Hungerford Railway Arches and the Royal Festival Hall Extension Building (located between the Royal Festival Hall Terrace and the railway bridge) which over sails Railtrack land.

  The British Film Institute are development partners with the South Bank Centre in creating a new National Film Centre and the South Bank Centre maintains regular dialogue with the Royal National Theatre to ensure the masterplan integrates them within the new cultural complex.


  The South Bank Centre has a broad constituency—local residents, Londoners generally and audiences and visitors from further afield, who all feel they have a stake in the future of arts facilities on the South Bank. As well as addressing the needs of its wider audiences, the South Bank Centre is well rooted in the community with over 200,000 foyer visits made by Lambeth and Southwark residents, 30,000 tickets purchased by local people and over half its education programme devoted to Lambeth schools.

  The Waterloo area and its resident population are changing. The White House (ex Shell downstream building) and County Hall are now home to a growing local resident population who came to live on the South Bank because of its location and access to world class facilities—the river, the park, theatre, film/arts and cultural facilities.

  Promoting investment and preparing plans for the South Bank Centre has identified the important need to reconcile the requirements of the local residents and wider interests. All support a world class arts centre and park. As part of the masterplanning process the South Bank Centre has taken unprecedented steps to seek the views of local people in addition to its London, national and international stakeholders. Some 300 Lambeth residents have been actively involved in the consultation process. Their views about the masterplan reflected those of audiences and visitors to the site.

  Hungerford car park, at the core of the South Bank Centre estate, is also the key to the future of the South Bank Centre. It provides the opportunity to meet aspirations for a world-class arts centre and park. A local political action group (which has opposed the London Eye, IMAX Cinema and the Waterloo International Terminal) oppose the use of Hungerford car park and Jubilee Gardens for anything other than a flat extension to the Jubilee Gardens.To date they have successfully frustrated plans for the site and the related area. Indeed, they are the principle reason for planning delays associated with applications to restore and refurbish the Royal Festival Hall.

10 January 2002

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