DD1453 Waterloo Bridge Undercrofts Feasibility Study

Type of decision: 
Director's decision
Date signed: 
10 February 2016
Decision by: 
Fiona Fletcher-Smith, Executive Director of Development, Enterprise and Environment

Executive summary

Approval was obtained in the High Street Fund report to IPB in January 2015 for a £400,000 ‘Commissioning Fund’ to develop a pipeline of projects in areas of London where there is strong growth potential. 

This decision concerns one project as part of this fund - a feasibility study for the activation of the Waterloo Bridge Undercrofts as an artist workspace hub with associated uses and improved public realm linking interchange, cultural institutions and development sites.



That Executive Director approves expenditure of up to £45,000 from the High Street Fund as a  grant to the Southbank Centre as a contribution to its costs in delivering its Waterloo Bridge Undercrofts Feasibility Study project.



Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

1.1.    Approval was obtained in the High Street Fund report to IPB in January 2015 for a £400,000 ‘Commissioning Fund’ to develop a pipeline of projects in areas of London where there is strong growth potential. 

1.2.    This was signed off in Mayoral Decision MD1469, and the decision to delegate allocation of the fund to the Executive Director Development Enterprise and Environment.

1.3.    The project brought forward in this Director Decision is the Southbank Centre’s Waterloo Bridge Undercrofts feasibility study.

1.4.    The scope and justification for the project has been presented to Mayoral Advisor Daniel Moylan and Deputy Mayor Munira Mirza and has their approval.


Objectives and expected outcomes

2.1.    Commissioning Fund 

2.1.1.    The general criteria for selecting projects for funding, in order to identify suitable areas of London in which to develop pipeline projects, follows that described in the Accommodating Growth in Town Centres report . The report identifies three characteristics for areas to receive regeneration funding. They should have the potential for intensification, be under threat of decline as a result of structural change and there should be a local commitment and capacity to deliver intensification.

2.1.2.    Prior to presenting projects for commissioning funding, the GLA’s Regeneration team has spent time with potential delivery partners to develop a series of project proposals in readiness for future rounds of regeneration funding and other funding streams.

2.1.3.    The type of support that is proposed to be provided through the commissioning fund varies depending on the degree to which development work has been developed by the borough, local business or community organisation, from town centre strategies to more focussed place specific development projects aimed at addressing the threats and opportunities outlined above. 

2.1.4.    Whilst there are bigger long-term developments taking shape in Waterloo, more specifically the bridge undercrofts remain a significant underutilised area that has the potential for intensification and delivery of impactful regeneration outcomes. The Southbank Centre has been working with GLA officers on the proposal for the feasibility study and is committed to the project.

2.2.    Waterloo Bridge Undercrofts

2.2.1.    The London Plan (2015) describes Waterloo as an Opportunity Area which provides opportunities for intensification of commercial, residential and cultural facilities associated with a major transport hub, a major office location and a Strategic Cultural Area. There is potential to enhance the South Bank and extend the cultural offer as a major London visitor destination which can also be enjoyed by local residents and employees.

2.2.2.    Amongst other redevelopment projects in the area, Transport for London (TfL) are developing proposals to transform the roundabout at Waterloo in order to provide a much improved, safe and attractive environment for pedestrians and cyclists. Whilst there is noticeable regeneration activity in the area, there is a danger that individual schemes are not as joined up as they could be. The Southbank Centre’s Waterloo Bridge Undercrofts project offers the opportunity to improve connectivity between interchange, cultural facilities, regeneration schemes and the new highways layout by activating approximately 31,000 sq ft of unused space under the southern end of Waterloo Bridge. 

2.2.3.    The Waterloo Bridge undercrofts are owned by TfL/Lambeth Council and the Southbank Centre has a long lease of 150 years from 1999. The Southbank Centre wishes to expand its activities in the visual arts, including the promotion of work by young and emerging artists. This would include the provision of affordable artist studio space along with affordable gallery space for display and promotion. Some commercial gallery space and associated retail or cafe uses could help to subsidise the affordable elements.

2.2.4.    The Southbank Centre has undertaken some initial work to establish the potential to develop the Waterloo Bridge undercrofts. This Commissioning Fund project proposes to use up to a maximum of £45,000, together with £10,000 from the Southbank Centre to fund a detailed feasibility study to:

Develop the business model to provide for the conversion of the undercroft space and maintenance of the associated new public realm, and maximise opportunity for affordable creative spaces, subsidised by commercial revenues;

Develop concept design options to assess functional constraints and opportunities (including integration with the highways scheme and long-term plans for the Southbank Centre), to develop outline construction costs, and to utilise the spatial qualities of the different areas below Waterloo Bridge to greatest effect.

Develop an outline delivery programme taking into account other developments taking place in the vicinity.

2.2.5.    It is anticipated that the feasibility study would take 2 to 3 months to complete.  As an outcome the Southbank Centre and partners would be better informed to take forward and implement the transformation of the undercrofts. The study would also be well-timed to inform TfL’s emerging public realm plans for the reconfiguration of the roundabout.


Equality comments

3.1.    Through the requirements which will be set out in the funding agreement, the Southbank Centre must ensure that they give due regard to the requirements of the Public Sector Equality Duty: eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between different people when carrying out this project.

3.2.    All design proposals will be assessed in terms of accessibility to ensure we minimise disadvantages suffered by people who share a protected characteristic: age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, gender, religion or belief, sexual orientation.


Other considerations

4.1.    Key risks and issues

4.1.1.    Key risks and their control measures will be reported to BPR as part of the regular updates and performance management.

4.2.    Links to Mayoral strategies and priorities

4.2.2.    The Commissioning Fund has been developed to support London Plan policies with regard to town centres, retail, lifetime neighbourhoods, public realm and urban design. 

4.2.3.    The Mayor of London’s Creating Artists’ Workspace report highlights that with 35,000 graduates emerging from London’s Art & Design schools every year, and a thriving alternative sector, demand for affordable workspace across the city will continue to increase.

The report recommends innovative and imaginative delivery models for long-term and permanent spaces, in order to sustain London’s attractiveness to the industry.

4.3.    Impact assessments and consultations

4.3.1.    As part of the project, the Southbank Centre will consult key partners to help inform the proposals, including Lambeth Council and TfL.



Financial comments

5.1    Approval is requested for expenditure of £45,000 to deliver Southbank Centre’s Waterloo 
Bridge Undercrofts feasibility study. Southbank Centre is expected to contribute £10,000 to the total cost of the feasibility study of £55,000. 

5.2    The GLA contribution is to be funded from the High Streets Commissioning Fund revenue budget of £400,000 as approved under MD1469. 


Planned delivery approach and next steps

7.1.    The Waterloo Bridge Undercrofts project will be delivered by the Southbank Centre through a grant funding agreement, administered by the GLA Regeneration team. The Southbank Centre will commission a team comprising architects, cost consultants and business consultants and other specialists as required. A project steering group made up of the Southbank Centre and the GLA will oversee the delivery of the study.