You may not be a British bloke, but you probably know London’s Southbank, the graffiti-coated skate spot where Gonz did a chest-high hippie jump back in the day, Louie Lopez recently caught a free beer, and every team hits up whenever they were in merry ol’ England.
After the people behind Long Live Southbank (LLSB) announced a few years ago that the iconic British skate spot had been saved from demolition, we thought Southbank’s troubles were over.
Skateboarders: 1, Yuppie developers: 0.
Well, turns out it’s not so simple. The folks at LLSB reached out to us to explain that while the Southbank skate area is technically safe from being turned into a shopping mall, there’s a lot of work to be done to protect the skateboarder-friendly atmosphere surrounding London’s central skate hub. And to up the stoke, LLSB sent along an edit of some Southbank locals reminding us why this amazing spot deserves protection.
Southbank Centre, the area and organization in London where the Southbank skate spot is located, didn’t see their renovation plans come to fruition because LLSB was able to secure 150,000 signatures from civilians—most of them non-skaters—to show Southbank Centre that their proposal was, according to LLSB, the most unpopular construction plan in UK history.
This past year, LLSB legally secured planning permission to restore the original Undercroft (much of which has just deteriorated over time) and their next hurdle is to raise £790,000 to fund the restoration.
LLSB’s mission is to bring the space back to its full glory as a historic skate spot and cultural hub in London, instead of the commercialized area that Southbank Centre initially aimed for. To show that the Undercroft isn’t just a place to skate when it’s rainy, LLSB is allocating part of the restoration funds to build a type of safe, after-school hangout space for kids right next to the original skate area.
In addition to continuing their effort at home, the LLSB crew has taken what they’ve learned about negotiating with urban developers and begun passing it onto skateboarders across the globe to protect their own spots.
LLSB member Matthew Nelmes said, “There are a lot of examples of spots disappearing or being redeveloped to make them un-skateable right under people’s noses.”
You might remember a few months back that the Atlanta spot, Black Blocks, was going to be torn apart and shut down. But when Atlanta local and Jenkem contributor Andrew Murrell started a petition to protest the closure, LLSB heard and contacted Andrew to help promote the cause and advise an attack plan. “It was sick that they weren’t content with saving just their scene’s spot, but wanted to share what they learned with anyone else in their position,” Andrew said.
The LLSB team is currently offering their consulting services to skateboarders in Vancouver to save their skate plaza, which is being threatened by city expansion and renovation the way Southbank was just a few years ago.
So if you have it in you to help LLSB continue to preserve a skate gem for decades to come, check out their donation page, and if your local scene could use some help keeping your spots alive, hit up these dudes at [email protected].