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Wednesday, 6 March, 2002, 10:29 GMT
Festival Hall plan gets go-ahead
Royal Festival Hall model
There will be a new café at the back of the Hall
The Royal Festival Hall has been given the go-ahead for an ambitious modernisation programme.

The planning permission for the Grade 1 listed building, the centrepiece of London's South Bank Centre (SBC), follows a long and sometimes acrimonious debate with the local Lambeth council.

South Bank Centre
The South Bank is seen by many as an eye-sore
The building's foyers will be renovated, the original entrance restored and new public spaces opened up, including a new café.

Lord Hollick, Chairman of SBC said: "I am delighted that Lambeth has now given us the green light to start work on the Royal Festival Hall.

"This is an important first step in the redevelopment of the whole of the South Bank site to create a world-class cultural centre."


The refurbishment is likely to cost £54m and costs will be met by the National Lottery through the Arts Council of England and Heritage Lottery Fund.

A public fund-raising campaign was also launched to mark the 50th birthday of the Royal Festival Hall in 2001.

Royal Festival Hall model
A new building alongside Hungerford Bridge is planned
Lord Hollick said that the response from the public had been "tremendous", and had already raised more than £4m.

The plans for the Festival hall include a new extension building alongside the adjacent Hungerford Bridge, an education centre and a new glass lift linking all levels.

'Master plan'

The auditorium's much-criticised acoustics and technical facilities will be modernised and the seating made more comfortable.

The full timetable for the projected improvements inside the Royal Festival Hall will be finalised over the summer and work will then be put out to tender.

The proposed improvements have been supported by London Mayor Ken Livingstone and represent the first stage of a "master plan" for the whole 27-acre South Bank site, being put together under the direction of architect Rick Mather.

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See also:

18 Feb 02 | Arts
Hollick gets South Bank job
12 Feb 02 | Music
Meltdown for legend Bowie
17 Feb 00 | UK
New look for South Bank
02 May 01 | Music
Festival Hall hits 50
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