Further supplementary memorandum submitted
by the South Bank Centre
ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL 50TH BIRTHDAY REFURBISHMENT
SUMMARY OF THE PRINCIPLES OF THE PROPOSALS
|Pre-Application discussions Feb 2000||Full Application July 2000
|Initial Application April 2000||Revised Application Feb 2001
|Full Application September 2000||
|Further Information November 2000||
The purpose of this short paper is to establish the broad
principles, objectives and benefits of the refurbishment of the
Royal Festival Hall (RFH).
The refurbishment of the Royal Festival Hall is an integrated
plan with two complimentary parts; the refurbishment of the public
foyers and the creation of an extension building alongside the
RFH. The applications also seek to rationalise and improve the
existing servicing of the RFH.
The proposals are based on two principles. First, that the
RFH is the jewel in the South Bank's crown and that any proposals
for the wider development of the site must defer to any plan for
the refurbishment and improvement of its setting and accessibility.
Work started on the present RFH project in 1998, some two years
before the current masterplan.
The second principle is that the two applications are part
of a common plan for the RFH and require consent for both elements
to fully refurbish the RFH. If the Extension Building were not
approved SBC could achieve 70 per cent of the proposals for the
2. NATIONAL SIGNIFICANCE
The RFH is the only lasting legacy of the 1951 Festival of
Britain, which drew six million visits from all over the nation
between May to September.
It has been the focal point of London's cultural life for
over 50 years and virtually every major international artist has
performed on the stage.
It still represents a symbol of accessible culture. It is
open 364 days a year from 10am to 11pm and attracts 2.8 million
visits a year (more than see Manchester United at Old Trafford)
comprising 800,000 ticket buyers and two million free foyer visits.
In fact since it opened in May 1951 it has hosted over 60 million
visits (the equivalent of the population of the United Kingdom).
Over 200,000 visits a year are made by residents in Lambeth
and Southwark; some 30,000 ticket buyers live in Lambeth and the
RFH is the home of SBC's education programmes enjoyed by thousands
of pupils from Lambeth schools.
In 1988 it was Britain's first post war public building to
be Grade 1 listed.
In July 1999 the Heritage Lottery Fund made an in-principle
award of £12.5 million towards the RFH refurbishment. In
August 2001 the Arts Council made an in-principle award of £20
million. The Heritage Lottery Fund will consider increasing its
award to £20 million in the summer.
Following the 50th birthday celebrations (which were greeted
with significant public and media response) we launched a major
fundraising campaign and already over 9,000 ticket buyers have
pledged £1.2 million towards the refurbishment programme.
With this, and the offer from the two lottery bodies, we have
75 per cent of the funding in place.
3. NEED AND
The RFH is heavily used and now accommodates functions never
originally planned for the building. For example education events,
free lunchtime events and performances in the auditorium requiring
complex production arrangements, record, book and gift shops and
cafés. These functions not only broaden the range of activities
for the public but also generate significant revenue income and
enhance the sustainability of SBC's arts and cultural programme.
In addition, areas that were open to the public such as the
roof terraces, Level four long interval bars and the recital room
were colonised by staff after the abolition of the GLC in 1986.
Or, they have been used to accommodate new functions passed to
SBC by the Arts Council such as the administration of the Hayward
Gallery, the Saison Poetry Library and Arts Council Collection.
The RFH does not meet the requirements of the Disabled Discrimination
Act that will become law in 2004.
No major investment has been made in the RFH for over 40
years since the 1964 extensions. This has meant that the basic
infrastructure of drains, wiring, plumbing and heating are in
need of a major overhaul.
4. PUBLIC CONSULTATION
SBC has consulted the public widely on two occasions. In
August 2000 and April/May 2001. This took the form of two exhibitions
in the foyer publicised in the monthly magazine Southbank (130,000
print run and distribution) and through 20,000 leaflets distributed
to Lambeth residents, audiences, visitors and passing commuters.
A total of 1,194 response forms were returned. Some 75 per
cent of people supported the proposals with 80 per cent saying
that they enhanced the setting of the RFH. Lambeth residents represented
15 per cent of respondents. In addition separate presentations
were made to the Council for Architecture and the Built Environment
(CABE), English Heritage, the Twentieth Century Society, the Greater
London Authority (GLA) and the Waterloo Community Development
The project has the support of English Heritage, CABE, the
SBC Access Users Group, the Arts Council of England (ACE), the
resident orchestras (London Philharmonic/Philharmonia), Heritage
Lottery Fund, The Mayor and the Department for Culture Media and
5. THE FOYERS
5.1 Objectives and Public Benefits
There are five key objectives of the proposals.
To restore the Grade 1 listed building and its infrastructure
(eg lifts, toilets, fabric etc) that has become tired and in need
To reinstate the original entrance as introduced in the 1950's
The ground floor entrance at the Waterloo doors (opposite
the Hayward and Queen Elizabeth Hall) and the terrace entrance
(opposite Hungerford Bridge).
To introduce a new lift beside the Waterloo entrance to provide
access for all to every level and half level in the building in
line with Disability Discrimination Act requirements.
Four platform lifts are also proposed to negotiate half levels.
Fourteen additional accessible toilets will be provided.
Outside Spaces Reinstated and Enlarged
To create vitality and interest on all four sides of the
There will be new cafés opening out to Festival Square
(facing Lambeth) and the terrace overlooking the river as well
as the relocation of the book and record shops opening out onto
a new landscaped Queen's Walk.
The Extension Building will screen the Hungerford Entrance
from the railway and animate the enlarged terrace entrance and
commuter route off the bridge with cultural shops.
The rationalisation of the servicing will remove servicing
lanes and delivery yards from pedestrian routes and create new
public squares on three sides of the RFH.
Internal Public Open Spaces
To restore and enliven the Foyer spaces from the ground floor
to the Level 6 terrace overlooking London and the River.
There have been no formal objections to these proposals.
6. THE EXTENSION
6.1 Objectives and Public Benefits
Complete the Refurbishment of the RFH
To create office space for SBC staff next door to the RFH
so that the following areas within the building can be:
reopened for public use:
Level 6 roof terrace overlooking Westminster
Level 4 interval bars on both sides of the
reinstate original uses:
improve access to current uses:
relocate the Poetry Library and Voice Box
to the ground floor
create a purpose built and enlarged education
SBC staff need to be located adjacent to the RFH not only
because of the day to day operational and licensing requirements
of managing a major public building, but also because of the very
significant growth since 1986 in directly managed artistic and
educational activities in music, dance, performance and literature.
Enhance the Setting
To enhance the setting of the RFH by screening the building
from the noise of the railway and covering an unattractive service
lane, making a more attractive entrance and enliven the pedestrian
route from Charing Cross to Waterloo with cultural retail.
Improve Access for All
To improve access for all by relocating SBC's security staff
to the Extension Building so that the two lifts (one off the bridge
and one off the terrace into Festival Square) have 24 hour support.
In addition a new wide staircase off the terrace will replace
the narrow spiral staircase. This represents the only level route
from Trafalgar Square to the South Bank.
6.2 Modifications Made to the Design to Address Concerns
A number of modifications have been made to the design of
the Extension Building to address concerns raised. These are:
the 5th floor pavilion has been removed to avoid
impacting on the strategic viewing corridor from Westminster to
the windows facing the railway have been recessed
to give greater modulation to the elevation;
the roof has been landscaped as it will be overlooked
the eaves line of the building has been expressed
(English Heritage request)
the OBU (Outside Broadcast Unit) waiting areas
has been removed resulting in a reduction in width of the service
road by 3m. This means the OBU is concealed in the arches to the
river end, with a maximum of two vehicles exposed to the end of
the service road in occasional circumstances
the piled foundations have been redesigned to
enable any future underground servicing to be implemented without
cause further obstruction
the cooling plant that serves the RFH has been
relocated from the arches to enable any future development to
the arches to occur without impacting on the infrastructure of
Concerns have been expressed about the height of the building
but this is ditched by the office requirements that enable SBC
staff to be accommodated, to achieve recommended space standards
and to have dedicated meeting rooms for the first time.
6.3 Rationalisation of the Servicing
the servicing proposals seek to modify the long-standing
current arrangements and have been included as part of the Extension
Current Servicing Arrangements
The existing servicing layout, which uses both sides of the
Hungerford Bridge including the car park has operated since the
mid 1960's. The Royal Festival Hall has its access from Belvedere
Road, north of Hungerford Bridge. Catering vehicles and small
production related vehicles drive around the loop service road
formed from the two open arches of Hungerford Bridge and the service
road on the south side of Hungerford Bridge. Larger production
vehicles turn around in the area of Festival Square adjacent to
the artist's entrance then reverse into the service road.
Objectives and Public Benefits of the Proposed Servicing Arrangements
The proposal essentially combines the two existing service
roads (to either side of Hungerford Viaduct) into a wider road
to the Hungerford car park side. This enables all the servicing
to be released from around the Royal festival Hall, concealing
deliveries within the arches and under the retail proposed at
terrace level. It also provides a security centre and adequate
goods storage releasing space at Level 1 of the RFH for public
use. It meets the criteria for the efficient and continued operation
of the Royal Festival Hall. In particular it:
1. Provides direct and level access to both goods lifts
by delivery vehicles
2. Provides direct connection between artists' and staff
reception and lift
3. Provides adequate storage near goods lift
4. Provides a security centre adjacent to both goods
lift and service areas
1. Maintains pedestrian access between Hungerford footbridge
and Belvedere Road
2. Provides pedestrian safety by separating vehicles
3. Provides access for alldisabled and pushchairs
4. Achieves disabled access from Hungerford footbridge
Alternative Proposals Considered
SBC has considered a number of alternative servicing strategies
to test how essential the current service lane on Hungerford car
park was to the efficient operation of the RFH. None of the alternatives
provided the same benefits to the operation of the RFH, its setting
or improved public realm around and within the building and pedestrian
access to it.
SBC has considered a shorter service lane on the Hungerford
car park but this will increase service vehicle congestion within
SBC's estate leading to potential tailbacks into Belvedere Road
and add significantly to SBC's annual operational costs with increased
staff for traffic management.
SBC also considered a number of underground servicing solutions.
While these may be technically feasible, the cost of implementing
them would be some £9 million and the long ramps required
to get underground would blight large amounts of public realm
and cause tailbacks into Belvedere Road. There is no prospect
of SBC being able to secure the funding for this. The construction
of the Extension Building does not either increase the cost or
make technically more difficult an underground solution should
funding from other sources become available at a later date.
7. DISABLED CAR
Two further opportunities have arisen as a result of the
refurbishment proposals. First, the consolidation of 13 formal
and 13 informal disabled car parking spaces into a 26 space dedicated
disabled car park in the QEH/PR undercroft. This has the support
of the SBC Access Users Group. The second is that SBC will remove
all coach parking from its estate.
8. THE RELATIONSHIP
There are two important links between the two applications.
The first link is the offices provided by the Extension Building.
This frees up space in the RFH to re-open areas for public use,
reinstate original uses and relocate existing uses to improve
The second link is the wide staircase off the Hungerford
terrace into Festival Square which replaces the spiral staircase.
This is proposed in anticipation of the seven million pedestrians
using the new footbridge each year. Although it can be implemented
within the Foyers applications the foot of the stair arrives close
to the production vehicle delivery area with restaurant conflict
of vehicles and pedestrian traffic.
Although the two applications are complimentary and planned
as part of the whole it is possible to start work on the RFH without
the Extension Building. However, there are significant implications
in doing so.
The following public benefits would be lost in the RFH refurbishment
No public roof terrace overlooking the Houses
of Parliament and the BA London Eye
No restoration of the Level 4 interval bars to
their original size
No recital room on Level 5 (Poetry Library can't
No relocation of the Poetry Library/Voice Box
to Level 1 Riverside (Box Office administration can't move)
Reduction in the size of the Education Centre
(security accommodated here)
Wide staircase off Hungerford terrace into Festival
Square arrives in service area
Without the Extension Building, some 30 per cent of the refurbishment
project could not be implemented.
In addition there would be:
no rationalisation of servicing and consequent
operational efficiencies for the RFH
no enhancement to the setting of the Grade 1 listed
9. KEP PLANNING
The refurbishment of the RFH is much welcomed and largely
The RFH has a longstanding international reputation. The
refurbishment is necessary and long overdue so as to maintain
it's national and international competitiveness.
The proposals improve:
the quality and increase the amount of public
realm on four sides of the building
its setting within a conservation area
access to and within the building as required
by the DDA in 2004
the operation efficiency of the RFH and the range
of facilities it provides audiences and visitors
The servicing proposal, the only practical way to service
the RFH, builds on long standing current arrangements by adding
three metres to the existing service road. This road has and will
continue to be required by Railtrack for access to the railway
bridge for maintenance or in the event of an accident.
Lambeth Council's ambition, as expressed in its adopted Unitary
Development Plans (UDP) to create open space on Hungerford car
park, will therefore always have to incorporate a service lane
(suitably landscaped) alongside the railway viaduct. The Council
designated the car park Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) with the
servicing lane use on it. This anomaly has been recognised in
the first draft deposit of the borough's new UDP on 15 January
2002, which proposes to de-designate the service lane from the
In addition, the proposals put back more public space than
it takes away from Hungerford car park by completely pedestrianising
Festival Square and removing the access road "corset"
around the RFH from the Waterloo doors to the river frontage.
This will be re-landscaped linking the Hall more directly with
The issues to be considered by Lambeth are whether the applications
Lambeth's implementation of UDP policy
The implementation of underground servicing
The implementation of SBC masterplan
The answer to all three is that the RFH refurbishment project
does not prejudice any of the above.