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Tuesday, 15 January, 2002, 14:42 GMT
Delays dog South Bank Centre
South Bank Centre
Many redevelopment plans have failed on South Bank
A 200m redevelopment programme for the South Bank Centre, London, is being held up due to planning permission delays, officials at the arts centre have said.

Maya Even, South Bank Centre vice chairman, told MPs on the Culture Committee that the South Bank Centre was like a horse trapped in the stalls waiting for the start of the race.


It is a very, very complex issue

Lambeth Council spokesman
The plans involve the redevelopment of the Royal Festival Hall, the establishment of public squares, a park and a Queen's Walk and the redevelopment of the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery.

Ms Even told the committee: "Our plans are ambitious and fundamentally feasible. "It will be a world-class centre - a single cultural campus.

"But Lambeth Council is delaying its considering of our planning application for the Festival Hall."

'Ashamed'

She said the South Bank Centre was in desperate need of redevelopment and plans costing more than 200m were in place, adding she was "ashamed of the site" at present.

"Artists' facilities are absolutely embarrassing," she said. "It is confusing to navigate for visitors and it is dangerous at night.


The key for the successful development is evolution

Maya Even, South Bank Centre
"We have the money in place, the architect's plans in place, the schedule in place but Lambeth Council have sat on our proposals for two years.

"All that Lambeth Council do for Festival Hall, a relatively simple proposal, is give us delay after delay."

She added that they wanted to keep as much of the development open as possible while it was being developed.

Minefield

Mike McCourt, director of the South Bank Centre, said the management had learnt from previous proposals that had failed.

South Bank
How the South Bank could look
Plans designed by architects Cedric Price, Terry Farrell and Richard Rogers have all failed due to reasons including lack of public money, the collapse of the property market and the minefield of lottery applications, said Mr McCourt.

"We have made sure we get arts and urban needs right before we talked about architecture," he said.

The Festival Hall will cost 54m to develop and almost 30m of the funding is already in place.

The development of a new park of the site and the Queen's Walk will cost 11m while the redevelopment of the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery will cost 147m.

'Complex issue'

Mr McCourt said: "The whole site could be complete by 2008/9 but people could see improvements to the Festival Hall site within nine months."

South Bank Centre
The South Bank is considered by many to be an eye-sore
A spokeswoman for Lambeth Council said the authority was "not being bloody-minded" by delaying a decision on planning application.

"It is a very, very complex issue. There have been a lot of revisions and considerations to each application which have created huge controversy amongst residents of the area.

"At the end of February or the beginning of March there will be a special meeting of the planning committee in Waterloo.

"The public will be invited to attend and we will be making a decision on that day."

See also:

17 Feb 00 | UK
New look for South Bank
02 May 01 | Music
Festival Hall hits 50
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