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Friday25 July 2014

National Theatre director slams Southbank plans

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Nicholas Hytner submits 3,600 word objection to Feilden Clegg Bradley’s plans

The director of the National Theatre has submitted a 3,668 word objection to the Southbank Centre’s £120 million expansion plans designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley.

In a statement to Lambeth council Nicholas Hytner said the proposal would damage the ‘arts quarter’ on the South Bank and that it would have an adverse impact on the grade II* listed National Theatre.

The National Theatre on London's Southbank

Source: Creative commons/ Bald Boris

The National Theatre on London’s Southbank

“The National Theatre is a close and supportive neighbour to the Southbank Centre but over the last few months we have noted with growing concern the scale of the Festival Wing proposals,” wrote Hytner.

“Having now read the full application and reviewed the details with our Board we regret that we must make a formal objection to the applications submitted on behalf of the South Bank Centre for planning permission.”

Hytner, who is working with Haworth Tompkins on the redevelopment of the National Theatre, believes the proposed Liner building would have a “wedge-like effect” between the theatre and the rest of the Southbank Centre including the Hayward Gallery and Queen Elizabeth Hall.

Nicholas Hytner

Nicholas Hytner

“We fear that the Liner building will be both a component of, and over arching metaphor for the further segmentation of the most dynamic arts complex in the country, if not the world,” wrote Hytner.

Hytner also expressed concerns that the plans would have an impact on views from the theatre, as well as a loss of sunlight to its public spaces and terraces.

“All of this [the views] will disappear with the Liner building, which will cantilever one full storey above the bridge level, thus presenting to our largest terrace the structural beams and supports,” he wrote.

Members of the public and interested parties can comment on Feilden Clegg Bradley’s plans for the expansion of the Southbank Centre until Friday, July 5.

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Readers' comments (17)

  • CABE says more time needed for design, NT has 3,688 word objection, thousands reject changes to undercroft, who is supportive? The South Bank Centre needs some work, very least a refurbishment, but isn't this in danger of becoming a grand projet that seems to be running away with itself?

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  • How did this get so far? This is clearly a gross over development of a Listed complex of buildings. Can you imagine this being proposed at Somerset House or Trafalgar Square? Alright, so can I.
    Somebody needs to stop this now, all that is needed is a bit of minor refurbishment, but there's no profit to be made in that.

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  • The proposals show no consideration for the form or spaces of the Southbank Centre so why would it's neighbours be given any consideration?

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  • At last someone with his head screwed on. By all means colonise the undercroft, but the rest of it should be cleaning and restoring these listed buildings and removing all the daft clutter that's around them. It's an arts centre, not a conference opportunity.

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  • I agree entirely.

    This is a commercially based redevelopment of an important listed cultural centre, and those glass boxes will end up looking very crude and incongruous if they are not handled with absolute skill and care.

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  • There seems to be some misunderstanding here. The 'Festival Wing' is not only unlisted, it has a Certificate of Immunity from Listing. The RFH is listed Grade I and the NT grade II* (as is Waterloo Bridge). The FCB scheme should respond to the existing buildings on site, which it patently fails to do, and as any good scheme should, but not because they are listed. On the other hand, because the buildings are unlisted doesn't mean that the scheme should not also consider its iimpact on the surrounding listed buildings. The Liner Building, which CABE so foolishly found "compelling", will simply cut off the important and unifying inter-visibility between the NT and the RFH. Sir Nicholas is quite right to point this out, and to object.

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  • Architecturaly, that aerial view of the roofs shows a clear lack of any conceptual strategy and only demonstrates that the client is overloading and cluttering the site.

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  • Subtle as a flying mallet??

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  • There is something seriously wrong here.
    How can they have got this far without having the NT on board?
    That the commissioning body and the architects would think it prudent to go public with a scheme developed ostensibly up to planning without enough consultation to convince all other stakeholders it was good for the entire ensemble just beggar's belief.

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  • @ Karl Renner: the undercroft is already colonised by one of London's most popular attractions.

    Unfortunately since it occupies space that could be given over to profit-generating functions, it's considered to be "in the way".

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