‘£1 billion’’ Northern Line Extension railroaded through, and new crop of homes for the rich to be sold at New Covent Garden Market


Two vast foregone conclusions have just been concluded. Wandsworth Council has given planning permission for the redevelopment of New Covent Garden Market on the Vauxhall-Wandsworth boundary, while to please the developers the Department of Transport has given London Underground permission to start digging up Vauxhall to drive a Northern Line Tube Extension (NLE) from Kennington into Wandsworth.

The uncosted, publicly-backed NLE project will, with the agreement and financial backing of Lambeth, bring two new Tube stations. One will be at the redevelopment of Sainsbury’s a few minutes’ walk from Vauxhall Tube Station and the other at Battersea Power Station, a few paces away from two existing overground stations.

The New Covent Garden redevelopment is a partnership between a public authority, New Covent Garden Market Authority, and two private developers, St Modwen Properties and Vinci PLC. Vinci St Modwen’s press release trumpets that the diggers go in during the first half of 1915 [sic] and ‘approximately 3,000 new homes’ will be built. Vinci St Modwen, it is clear, does not build old homes. Nor does Vinci St Modwen deign to say what percentage, if any, of these homes will be ‘affordable’. The fruit, flower and vegetable market remains at Nine Elms on one 37-acre site, 20 acres of other ‘surplus’ land being given over to redevelopment of one sort or another.

The NLE project is officially ‘costed’ at £1 billion, and if you believe that figure you will believe anything. Parliamentary approval was required and a Transport and Works Act Order was nodded through to give London Underground the powers it needs to build the 3.2km extension of the Tube. The full cost of the extension is ‘expected’ to be ‘up to £1 billion’, part-funded by developers held to benefit from the new Tube stations, although not all are keen. But relax, if things don’t turn out as ‘expected’, the Treasury – i.e. you – will be expected to make up the difference.

New Covent Garden Market tells The Vauxhall Society that the developers offered 15% affordable housing, the standard level for the Nine Elms Opportunity Area, but Wandsworth stuck out for and got 20%. Lambeth – please note.

New Covent Garden: www.newcoventgardenmarket.com

What ‘affordable homes’ does and does not mean

Vauxhall Gardens: Georgian Group goes a-ghost-hunting in the Kennington Lane

Jonathan Tyers, with His Daughter Elizabeth, and Her Husband John Wood
Jonathan Tyers, with His Daughter Elizabeth, and Her Husband John Wood

Jonathan Tyers, with His Daughter Elizabeth, and Her Husband John Wood by Francis Hayman

‘The ghosts of Vauxhall’s hedonistic past are roused as we venture on to ground used by the Georgians for pleasure and leisure’, promises the programme for the Georgian Group’s London visit on 19 November. One item on the Georgians’ itinerary is admission to ‘the home of Jonathan Tyers (1702-1767), founder and promoter of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens’. The Georgian Group do not say where they found ‘the home of Jonathan Tyers’, but if in fact they have done so, the Georgians have a world art history scoop and perhaps a paranormal one on their hands. No home of Jonathan Tyers is recorded as still with us. Not his house at Vauxhall Gardens, not his country home at Denbies (near Dorking), and not his family’s house in Bermondsey. The Georgian Group, however, may have plugged into another dimension where one or other of these three ‘Tyers homes’ are still to be visited.

A clue may lie in another event on the Georgians’ Vauxhall awayday itinerary, at which ‘Dr Penelope Corfield entertains us with a talk on the [Vauxhall] pleasure gardens’. This Dr Corfield will do at St Peter’s Church, which stands at 310 Kennington Lane, and was built on the site of the gardens. Next door, No 308, is a church property, formerly the rectory, that locals speak of, quite rightly, as ‘the manager’s house’ (as in ‘the manager of Vauxhall Gardens’). But ‘the home of Jonathan Tyers’ No 308 isn’t.

David Coke and Alan Borg demonstrated this in their 2011 Vauxhall Gardens: A History (Yale), p.229. Coke throws further light on No 308 in Vauxhall Society research published in our online history archive. This research, for a forthcoming history of St Peter’s, establishes that ‘the manager’s house’ was not built until 1793-4, a quarter of a century after Tyers’ death. The shade of Tyers may still haunt No 308, of course. One Vauxhall Gardens ‘manager’ did live there, but he was not the first but the last holder of this post. This was George Stevens, who directed Vauxhall Gardens in their short final season in 1859. Yet there was a real-life, unghostly Tyers at what is now No 308 between 1793 and 1806. Who?

Read on

Georgian Group

19 November concert at St Peter’s

Royal Academy exhibition names Vauxhall Bus Station as ‘best of its year’ in a century of British architecture

kate hoey mp at vauxhall bus station

kate hoey mp at vauxhall bus stationVauxhall Bus Station been chosen as one of the hundred best buildings of the century of British Architecture between 1914 and 2014. The exhibition, 100 Buildings 100 Years, marks the centenary this year of the Twentieth Century Society’s efforts to safeguard the heritage of British architecture and design. Twentieth Century Society members chose Vauxhall Bus Station as the building of 2005. Having built the bus station, Lambeth Council and Transport for London would now like it to make way for a row of estate agents’ offices. With the bus station now at risk, English Heritage is considering listing it after an application by The Vauxhall Society with the support by the Twentieth Century Society. The 100 Buildings, 100 years exhibition at the Royal Academy lasts until 1 February. The Vauxhall Bus Station display is accompanied by a commentary from Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey, who writes:

When I became MP in 1989, Vauxhall Cross was an anonymous windswept wasteland between the railway and the river.

Magically, from between the cranes and the concrete mixers, this amazing, stylish construction, Arup’s Vauxhall Bus Station, arose. A gleaming elevated ribbon of stainless steel, the canopy undulates above the buses to soar away into two enormous cantilevers, quickly nicknamed ‘the Ski Jump’, and now a famous identifying landmark for Vauxhall.

The elegant form follows the hugely successful function, where at ground level the bus platform allows passengers to change safely and quickly under cover. This is civic space at its best, valued and used by everyone, whether office cleaners taking night buses to the city, revellers returning from the club scene, or local resident Lords taking a bus to Westminster.

Lambeth Council, so pleased to welcome [Vauxhall Bus Station’s] construction a decade ago, now wish, against howls of protest, to demolish it and replace it with a row of shops.

The ‘howls of protest’ include the ‘Save Vauxhall Bus Station’ community campaign hosted by the Vauxhall Society. The campaign’s online petition will exceed 2,000 signatures any day now.

Sign the petition here

Twentieth Century Society’s 100 Buildings

The Vauxhall Bus Station entry

Vauxhall school students portray the bus station

Your free November local history walk: The Vauxhall Great War Walk, 12 November

Report on Zeppelin raid on London from Taunton Courier

Report on Zeppelin raid on London from Taunton Courier Your guide: Chris Everett, historian and leader of Vauxhall One’s popular Vauxhall Blitz Walk.

Free, courtesy of Vauxhall One, but places are limited, so to book yours and check the rendezvous spot, by emailing info@vauxhallone.co.uk

Did you know that there was a ‘Vauxhall’ Bridge on the Western Front? We’re all familiar with film and TV images of the trenches; many Vauxhall men who left to go to war were not to return. But there was another war, and that was fought on the Home Front, to feed, equip and patch up the soldiers, sailors and aircrew so the shooting war could be won. Women took over many jobs as more and more men were needed to fight. The Vauxhall Great War Walk will take in both ends of our Vauxhall Bridge, for between 1914 and 1918 the area was a hive of industry, from espionage to brothel-keeping.

Wednesday 12 November 2014, 12.30–1.30pm:

Next walk: Invisible Vauxhall, Monday, 1 December 2014. 1230-130pm; your guide Gabriel Gbadamosi, Vauxhall-born poet, playwright and author of the novel Vauxhall.

Vauxhall remembers

These Were Our Sons book cover

These Were Our Sons book coverAn enduring act of remembrance is the work that went into the research and writing of Vauxhall author Naomi Lourie Klein’s book These Were Our Sons. Naomi tells the stories of the 574 men listed on the Lambeth War memorial at Stockwell Clock Tower. On Tuesday 4 November, the author, who is Chairman of the Friends of Stockwell War Memorial & Gardens, will give a talk on how families in Lambeth and in general were told of a fatality.

‘Kindly Inform Me’ is at the Tate South Lambeth Library, 180 South Lambeth Road SW8 1Q, 6.30pm for 7pm. Naomi’s talk is part of the Friends of Tate South Lambeth Library programme and is open to all.

For a short time in the summer of 1917 there was a Vauxhall Bridge on the Western Front. It was one of number of floating barrel bridges across land around Nieuport near the Channel coast that the Belgians flooded to impede the German advance in 1914. The troops liked to domesticate their often-grim surroundings with familiar names, so ‘Barnes’ and ‘Putney’ bridges neighboured ‘Vauxhall’ near Nieuport, while at Nieuport Bains were ‘Kew’, ‘Mortlake’ and ‘Richmond’.

The sectors were linked across the inundations by single bridges and isolated from the rear by the Yser and Dunkirk canals, crossed by floating-barrel bridges and Vauxhall Operation Hush was a British plan to make amphibious landings on the Belgian coast in 1917 during World War I, supported by an attack from Nieuport and the Yser bridgehead, which had been created by the Battle of the Yser (1914). The bridges were erected in 1917 in support of an Allied attack planned should that summer’s Third Battle of Ypres (‘Passchendaele’, July-November 1917)succeed in opening the way to the Belgian coast, which alas it did not.

The Vauxhall Bridge in Vauxhall is the focus of The Great War Walk, November’s Vauxhall One/Vauxhall Society free guided history walk at 12.30-1.30pm on Wednesday 12 November: book at info@vauxhallone.co.uk.

Buy a copy of These Were Our Sons

More on ‘Vauxhall Bridge’ and Operation Hush

Where’s Vauxhall Bus Station gone?

kylun site vauxhall towers

Who runs Vauxhall, the politicians or the property industry? Or are both just parts of the same business? You have to ask yourself, when you see in the property press proposals for grassing over Vauxhall Bus Station to make a nice front garden for two new skyscrapers that, by the way, could become four and, it is confidently asserted, could be built higher and wider and with far less affordable housing than previously agreed behind closed doors with Lambeth Council.

Lambeth gave permission for two skyscrapers to be built on what was known as the Kylun site, that strip of land between the Bus Station and Lambeth Planning’s offices at St George Wharf. This site was then sold on, and the estate agents Knight Frank are now marketing it for the new owners, Wendover Investments as ‘Vauxhall Cross’ (the name of the whole area). Guide price? £65 million.

From the industry report on Skyscrapernews, Wendover indeed would seem to be bent on covering much of Vauxhall Cross itself with the two-to-four Vauxhall Cross skyscrapers that is suggested might be crammed in somehow.

‘Already approved,’ says Skyscrapernews ‘are the Squire-designed 140 metres and 115 metre tall towers with 291 apartments, a 180 bedroom hotel, plus some office and retail space. PLP Architecture, as part of the sale of the scheme, has drawn up alternative proposals for the site that feature the towers getting a substantial uplift to 140 metres and 170 metres with the taller building to the north. The logic of this is that although the maximum height that would be permitted on this site is 150 metres, the Statutory Development Plan that sets this limit out has been exceeded by four towers nearby. One advantage to stretching the project to the PLP design is that the amount of affordable housing falls to 13.3% of gross net floor space from 16.8%.’

Affordable housing here is supposed to be 20%, itself only half of Lambeth’s declared target, but under the pretext of ‘commercial confidentiality’, councils and developers can do secret trade-offs on affordable housing.

‘Taking the height boost even further,’ skyscrapernews continues, PLP also suggest that a tower as tall as 200 metres with a second much shorter tower to its south could also be feasible although this would radically change the view of the emerging Vauxhall cluster when viewed from Millbank Gardens.


Knight Frank sales brochure

‘Businesses that endanger the public and/or seek to profit at the expense of neighbours or a locality are not welcome’

This assurance is from Lambeth’s licensing policy document. Whether Vauxhall night clubs are as welcome as they were is to be put to the test at a licence variation meeting of interest to residents of and near Vauxhall Cross. The hearing at 7pm on Thursday 6 November 2014, is at Lambeth Town Hall and open to the public.

Parry Street area residents seek public support at the hearing for their objection to an application by the Fire/Lightbox nightclub of Arches 39–44 of Parry Street, near the Vauxhall Travelodge Hotel, to expand its activities. The club wants to open two more external bars and to use as an entrance the gates next door to the Hilden House and other flats whenever the clubs wish, rather than as now at weekends only.

The residents claim that whenever the club uses the gates at weekends people are already in for three to four sleepless nights as clubbers shout and argue into the small hours. Cars and minicabs sound their horns while picking up or dropping off passengers and stop on double red lines and, obstructing Parry Street, pose a danger to oncoming traffic.

Says one resident:

‘The situation in South Lambeth Place is even worse, simply unbearable, every weekend. It feels like that there is no law whatsoever in that street.’

The area is now dangerous for cars, cyclists, pedestrians and buses, it is claimed.

Clubs are charged with ‘taking over’ South Lambeth Place every weekend. Pavements are obstructed by barriers and queues and parked minicabs. There are complaints of noisy clubbers drinking and taking drugs in the streets, urinating, smashing bottles, and crossing the roads so as to endanger themselves and others.

Lambeth’s licensing policy is to protect ‘those who live, work or visit Lambeth and to support businesses that operate within the framework of the law’. The ‘night time economy’, however, is ‘recognized’ as an ‘important economic generator’ of 8,000 jobs, although ‘businesses that ‘endanger the public and/or seek to profit at the expense of neighbours or a locality are not welcome’.

The licence application:

Lambeth licensing policy:


Law and disorder in Vauxhall

Vauxhall Bus Station: what’s good for Croydon’s good for Vauxhall too

croydon new bus station

croydon new bus stationLittle escapes the beady eye of Martin Stanley, scribe of the Fentiman Road and Richborne Terrace Residents Association, and certainly not the following gem concerning a certain bus station. ‘It was great to hear,’ reports Martin, ‘that Transport for London have been persuaded of the importance of covered bus stations as part of major transport hubs’. He quotes TfL as saying “Around eight million passengers pass through the bus station each year. We want to improve the bus station, making it more accessible, better able to cope with current and future demand and more pleasant for customers. New buildings and a canopy will be constructed that are: light and airy, more spacious, equipped with modern CCTV coverage, and able to offer better passenger information.”

Unfortunately, Martin also reports, ‘TfL are not yet writing about Vauxhall… [but] about a new bus station in Croydon, connecting to Croydon Tramlink, London Overground and mainline train services’. Tfl and Lambeth Council are ‘consulting’ on Lambeth’s wish to demolish Vauxhall Bus Station and scatter the bus stops (and bus travellers) around the Vauxhall Gyratory to make way for a property development. Meanwhile, check out the petition at change.org (http://chn.ge/12gTw5k) to see how many signatures there are on the ‘Save Vauxhall Bus Station community campaign, and if you haven’t done so already, sign now?

Royal Vauxhall Tavern sold to mystery owners

royal vauxhall tavern

royal vauxhall tavernThe Royal Vauxhall Tavern has been sold to unidentified new owners, in what may be the gay pub’s last chance to escape the clutches of the property developers. “I’ve got five years to get RVT turned around and made into a viable business, but for that to happen we need support from the gay community,” James Lindsay is reported as saying by the Nottelevision website.

Lindsay has been co-owner of the venue with Paul Oxley since 2005, and will now run it under a five-year deal with its shy new owners. “We’ve accepted the offer from the new company,” Lindsay adds. “They came back and asked if I would take RVT forward.” He will becomes chief operating officer of Vauxhall Tavern London Ltd, a company incorporated in May 2014.

Fears for the future of the RVT have been fuelled by the secrecy of the sale, and RVT’s location in an area of frantic high-price skyscraper flats development.Lambeth Council, it is said, once planned to demolish RVT to make way for a shopping centre. Lambeth has now moved on and wants to demolish Vauxhall Bus Station instead. The secrecy surrounding the sale prompted an emergency application to Lambeth Council for the right to make a community bid, backed by The Vauxhall Society.

RVT was ‘saved’, it is said, when drag queens invaded a Lambeth Council meeting.

In a statement published to Facebook on 30 September 2014, Lindsay said: “RVT will undergo a full refurbishment both internal and external, which will see the first floor being opened as a wine and champagne bar with a new toilet provision at first floor level.


Like to have your say about the future of Vauxhall Park?

vauxhall park gates

vauxhall park gatesShow up at Parco Cafe, Saturday 18 October, from 10.30 am.

The Friends of Vauxhall Park invite you to look in at Parco Cafe, this Saturday, 18 October, from 10.30am to give your views on improving the park. Lynn Kinnear and Florence Moon of Kinnear Associates will there to hear from you. FOVP and Lambeth Council have appointed Kinnear to update Vauxhall Park’s masterplan and to design a new playground.

Lambeth, remember, has given planning permissions for housing more than 3,000 gardenless students and flat-dwellers facing the park. The get-together is to discuss the next ten years, and if you can’t make it on 18 October, you can always email the Friends of Vauxhall Park, a Vauxhall Society member, at friends@vauxhallpark.org.uk.