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Clock is ticking for Jubilee Gardens Olympic makeover

Plans to improve Jubilee Gardens on the South Bank to coincide with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic Games in 2012 still need another £1 million funding if they are to go ahead.

Jubilee Gardens SE1
Will Jubilee Gardens look like this in 2012?

Proposals to transform Jubilee Gardens, between County Hall and the Royal Festival Hall, have been on the table for at least four years but the project has been plagued by a lack of cash and legal wrangles.

Lambeth Council's cabinet considered a report on the Jubilee Gardens project on Monday night.

In March Transport for London pledged 1.5 million towards the 5.5 million project, with the bulk of the remainder to be paid for by section 106 cash relating to the building of the London Eye and the redevelopment of the Shell Centre. There is still a funding gap of 1 million.

It is planned that Jubilee Gardens will be one of a number of London parks to host big screens showing the London Olympic Games in the summer of 2012.

Council leader Steve Reed said that the funding from Transport for London was "the result of a very good piece of lobbying on the part of the council" backed by South Bank Employers' Group, Kate Hoey MP and others.

He continued: "We all want to see the council pushing as hard as possible to ensure that the programme goes through quickly enough to draw down the funding and meet the requirements of the funders – and indeed the public – to have this done in advance of the Olympics."

One of the reasons that the transformation of the gardens has been delayed is that Shirayama, the Japanese corporation that owns County Hall, has a restrictive covenant relating to vehicle access to Jubilee Gardens.

Jubilee Gardens is currently owned by Southbank Centre and it is planned that ownership will be transferred to a new trust when the park's makeover is complete.

Lib Dem leader Ashley Lumsden asked for clarification about the council's policy on the future of the Hungerford Car Park that lies between Jubilee Gardens and the Charing Cross railway viaduct.

The British Film Institute wants to use part of the car park for its new film centre which is due for completion by 2017, but their aspirations suffered a blow last week when the government withdrew 45 million promised to the scheme last year.

"We were proposing that 33 per cent of the [car park] land will be de-designated as metropolitan open land in order to unlock cultural investment by the railway so that the balance of the land can be part of an extended Jubilee Gardens," said Les Brown, the council's director of planning.

"People in Waterloo rightly feel very passionately about the lack of green space in the area," added Cllr Sally Prentice, cabinet member for regeneration.

"I'm not going to commit myself to transforming the site and getting rid of the car park, much though I would like to, because it seems to have defeated people for many years.

"I think there will need to be a compromise and given the announcement on the BFI funding we need to think about that.

"The South Bank is absolutely heaving with people, which is fantastic, but people need to have somewhere to sit and enjoy the open space.

"Certainly it's over my dead body that there will be a tower block there."

Meanwhile David Tootill of local social enterprise Southbank Mosaics has written an open letter to David Cameron calling for a more collaborative 'Big Society'-style approach to the transformation of "Britain's most visited plot of turf".

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