£24m repair and upgrade scheme approved after controversial glass box plan mothballed

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios’ scaled-back plans for the Southbank Centre have been approved.

The £24m refurbishment project includes replacing the pyramid rooflights on the Hayward Gallery and inserting new glazing on the south-west corner of the Queen Elizabeth Hall (QEH).

It will also see the creation of an accessible artists’ entrance by enclosing a small area of undercroft next to the Purcell Room.

The scheme won planning from Lambeth council after Southbank Centre management withdrew far more ambitious proposals to expand the existing brutalist complex.

This £120m scheme, also by Feilden Clegg Bradley, proved highly controversial and was eventually killed off through a campaign led by skateboarders objecting to being moved out of the undercroft.

Proposals for a glass-clad rehearsal box above the Hayward Gallery and QEH, and a long “liner building” between the so-called Festival Wing and the National Theatre also upset fans of the unlisted complex.

After withdrawing this planning application in 2013, Southbank management turned their attention to essential refurbishments and upgrades.

Most of the work will be behind the scenes, including replacement of M&E, fire, safety lighting, communication and technical productions systems. A cooling system will also be installed in the QEH and Purcell Room.

But access will be improved and worn fittings and surfaces throughout the three venues will be refurbished “enhancing the original design”.