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Incipio Group’s Royal Festival Hall rooftop bar plans condemned as ‘shocking’

Incipio Group’s plans to open a rooftop bar called Pergola on the River, on the top of the Royal Festival Hall have been described as “shocking” by conservation group Twentieth Century Society.

The Southbank Centre alongside the bar operator has applied for planning permission to erect the temporary transparent pavillion on top of a flat roof. The new bar would cover 686 sq metres of floor space and would be open until 2am at weekends.

Pergola on the River would be in place for three years before it would be removed in similar fashion to other Pergola sites, with the Southbank Centre proceeding with plans to create an open air performance space.

Conservation group Twentieth Century Society said it would object to the plans in the strongest possible terms.

Twentieth Century Society caseworker, Grace Etherington, said: “It is a landmark building and the riverside frontage is fundamental to its significance. This is not the right location for an off-the-peg design.”

Etherington added that the 20th century building “should be cherished rather than treated in such a shocking and insensitive way”. Another conservation group, Historic England, has also recommended refusal saying plans would cause “serious and unjustified harm”.

The Southbank Centre defended plans, saying it cannot make needed refurbishments to the hall without the money from a commercial restaurant or bar. In its planning application the centre said the erection would be “a relatively small, lightweight structure” and added “considerable maintenance and capital works costs” needed to be fulfilled.

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