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BFI’s new South Bank film centre: Government pledges £45 million

London SE1 website team

Plans for a new national film centre on the South Bank have been boosted by a Government funding commitment of £45 million.

Hungerford car park
The BFI wants to build on Hungerford Car Park but some local campaigners want Jubilee Gardens extended across the whole site
Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown at the National Film Theatre (now BFI Southbank) in 2006

The part-funding for the British Film Institute's proposal was announced by Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Friday as part of the London Film Festival. The Mayor of London has also promised £5 million towards the scheme.

"Britain has achieved worldwide respect for its innovative and vibrant film industry, exceptional arts and rich cultural heritage," said Gordon Brown.

"This project creates a new home for British film right at the heart of London's cultural centre on the South Bank.

"These are challenging economic times but with backing from the public and private sector, the commitment to the new BFI National Film Centre demonstrates the Government's continuing support for the arts in Britain, and our determination to invest in leading creative industries as part of our economic recovery.

"This is a great British success story and shows what can be achieved with a Government that backs talent and gets behind industry."

Plans for a new film centre on the South Bank to replace BFI Southbank (formerly the National Film Theatre) have been talked about for many years. The BFI says that its current cinemas below Waterloo Bridge are coming to the end of their useful life.

The most likely site for the new film centre is the Hungerford Car Park between Jubilee Gardens and the Royal Festival Hall.

The BFI's plans are likely to cause a local row as Waterloo community activists have long argued that the car park – which is designated as metropolitan open land – should be used to extend the green space of Jubilee Gardens.

The proposals are expected to offer a compromise with part of the car park being turned into a park extension.

The Prime Minister's announcement was described as "great news" by Lambeth Council leader Steve Reed.

"We will be providing £5 million towards the development of this long-needed centre, which will not only serve current film buffs, but will ensure the BFI is equipped to remain at the vanguard of film, past, present and into the future," said Mayor of London Boris Johnson.

Peter Bishop of the London Development Agency added: "We have been a strong supporter of the BFI's vision for a new film centre, which is at the heart of our plans for the rejuvenation of the South Bank."

Culture secretary Ben Bradshaw has also confirmed the Government's earlier commitment of £50 million towards the cost of Tate Modern's major extension on Bankside. A funding shortfall at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport prompted fears this summer that the Government might withdraw the offer of the cash.

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