Vauxhall community groups lose patience as Lambeth refuses to come clean on option to save Vauxhall Bus Station

Vauxhall Bus Station courtesy Impact

At what point does a Lambeth Council official, say Iago Griffith of ‘Business Growth and Regeneration’, wonder how much longer it’s worth antagonizing peaceful, law-abiding, council-tax paying Vauxhall citizenry just to help local politicians save face? What does it do for any official’s CV to be seen to have taken a public part in protracted shilly-shallying? Perhaps it’s a plus in the way local authorities like Lambeth handle planning and consultation these days. Take this question: is Lambeth Council prepared to offer for public consultation an option to retain Vauxhall Bus Station in redeveloping the Vauxhall Cross gyratory? Is the answer yes, or is it no? Month after month, Lambeth officials (and politicians) refuse to say. This is even though the council’s own consultative group, the Kennington, Oval and Vauxhall Forum (KOVF), says people will not accept a ‘No’. KOVF has a survey to back the claim. KOVF tackled Lambeth on this, and received no answer except a lot of hot air about ‘going to further consultation in the Autumn’. If it doesn’t include the bus station option it isn’t ‘consultation’, but a waste of time. KOVF, of which The Vauxhall; Society is a member, is calling upon Mr. Griffith for ‘a clear response’ to four questions:

  1. Will Lambeth work together with KOVF to develop a scheme sensitive to the CS5 Cycle Super Highway, the Oval Junction improvement plan, the Green Link proposals and that will tame the traffic around Vauxhall Cross, make it safer for cyclists and pedestrians, retain the benefits of the current transport hub and establish a link to an adjacent High Street?
  2. Will Lambeth and Transport for London make a presentation on (1) at KOVF’s public meeting on 18 September, and answer questions from the public?
  3. Will a Lambeth official (like Mr Griffith, perhaps) confirm that Lambeth Council has refused to make public an option that was recently presented to it for developing the Vauxhall Cross area without removing Vauxhall Bus station?
  4. Will a Lambeth official now give this plan/option in (3) to KOVF and make it an option in the Autumn ‘consultation’?

Kennington, Oval and Vauxhall Forum Iago Griffith, Regeneration Project Officer Business Growth and Regeneration London Borough of Lambeth Tel: 020 7926 2656 Email: igriffith2@lambeth.gov.uk 1st Floor Phoenix House 10 Wandsworth Road London SW8 2LL

Put Lambeth’s questionable Jenga Tower approval to a public inquiry, Vauxhall community groups tell Communities Minister

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new bondwayEric Pickles, the Communities and Local Government Secretary, is being urged to turn down for a second time the unpopular ‘Jenga Tower’/New Bondway skyscraper scheme approved by Lambeth Council for Vauxhall Cross.

Lambeth allowed secret evidence on affordable housing and a discrepancy in the reporting of employment space to go unchecked, the Friends of Vauxhall Park charge in a letter to the Minister. This latest New Bondway scheme offers 20% affordable housing against the previous scheme’s 29% and Lambeth’s own requirement for 40%.

FOVP says that Lambeth Council’s Planning Committee approved a revised planning application for New Bondway on 5 August, with four members voting for, and three abstaining, presumably too feeble to speak their mind. Pressure is building locally for a departmental investigation into the quality of Lambeth planning consultation and decision-making in Vauxhall.

The Friends of Vauxhall Park (FOVP) urge Mr Pickles to put Lambeth’s odd vote to a public planning enquiry ‘to prevent out of control development in Lambeth’.

FOVP says that English Heritage objects to the New Bondway scheme as jeopardising the world heritage status of Westminster. UNESCO also says that London’s rage for tall buildings harms the World Heritage setting of Westminster.

The proposed height of New Bondway exceeds the Mayor of London’s guidance and two neighbouring boroughs, Westminster and Wandsworth, object to the scheme, FOVP says.

New Bondway will ‘overwhelm’ Vauxhall Park, one reason why Mr Pickles, on the advice of a Planning Inspector, rejected a previous application in 2008 on the same site.

The South London Press headlined the New Bondway scheme as a ‘monstrosity’, the word used by a Vauxhall Society spokesperson in response to the paper’s inquiry.

The TVS response in full read:
‘I’d leave my lights on at night if I had a flat in New Bondway/Jenga Tower – and if I had offices there I’d be looking at my insurance.
‘January is the second anniversary of central London’s first fatal air crash when a helicopter clipped The Tower St George Wharf skyscraper, narrowly missing the One Nine Elms double-skyscraper development site, to crash in flames on the Wandsworth Road in rush hour.
‘Despite local opposition, money-mad Lambeth Council means to cram yet another monstrosity into the skyscraper cluster at Vauxhall Cross, where air turbulence and air pollution are already at danger levels.
‘Views differ on the building’s design, but Lambeth Councillors should be ashamed to blot out the sun like this from ‘the poor people’s garden’, Vauxhall Park.’


The FOVP letter in full
Rt Hon Mr Eric Pickles MP
Secretary of State
Department for Communities and Local Government
Eland House
Bressenden Place
London SW1E 5DU

12 August 2014

Dear Mr Pickles

Re: Request for a planning inspector to review Lambeth Council’s decision to approve planning permission for 69-71 Bondway, London SW8 1SQ (14/00601/FUL)

We believe that it is essential you call this proposal in for a planning enquiry to prevent out of control development in Lambeth. On 5 August 2014 the above building was approved by Lambeth Council’s Planning Committee with 4 members supporting and 3 abstaining. Lambeth gave approval despite:

  • English Heritage’s objection that this scheme jeopardizes the world heritage status of Westminster. Only days before the decision, UNESCO raised concerns about London development of tall buildings affecting the World Heritage setting of Westminster.
  • The fact that the height of this building exceeds (by some 18m) the Mayor of London’s OAPF guidance requesting heights in Vauxhall of the order of 150m;
  • Two neighbouring London Boroughs, Westminster and Wandsworth, objecting to this scheme;
  • Our belief that this scheme will overwhelm Vauxhall Park (comments were submitted from the Friends of Vauxhall Park). This was one of the reasons you rejected, on the advice of the Planning Inspector, the previous application in 2008 on this same site. We believe the planning committee failed to consider the quality of public realm offered by this development and the lack of access to amenity space for the new residents in the affordable housing, therefore inadequately taking into account the impact on Vauxhall Park.
  • The fact that insufficient employment space and affordable housing is offered (comments received from local people and amenity groups including the Kennington, Oval and Vauxhall Forum and the Vauxhall Society). The current scheme provides for 20% affordable housing against a local plan which aims for 40%. In reaching its decision, Lambeth allowed secret evidence on affordable housing, and a discrepancy in the reporting of employment space to go unchecked. For comparison on affordable housing, the previous (rejected) scheme offered 29% affordable housing.

Yours sincerely

Helen Monger and Polly Freeman
Trustees, Friends of Vauxhall Park

cc. Kate Hoey MP and Timothy Jones, English Heritage

Now Battersea opposes TfL/Lambeth ‘arrogance’ and ‘dereliction of duty’ on Vauxhall Bus Station plans

battersea society logo

battersea society logoEvidence mounts that Transport for London and its partner Lambeth Council are misleading the public in claiming widespread support for plans to break up the Vauxhall bus/train/Tube interchange by doing away with Vauxhall Bus Station and scattering the bus stops.

The Save Vauxhall Bus Station online petition The Vauxhall Society and its member groups set up to help community campaigners will soon record its 2,000th signature. The petition itself is backed by the Kennington, Oval and Vauxhall Forum (of community groups), as well as the Vauxhall Gardens Estate Residents & Tenants Association and, in neighbouring Wandsworth, the Battersea Society.

Now the Battersea Society has written to TfL, Lambeth Council Leader Lib Peck, Wandsworth’s Ravi Govindia and local MPs saying ‘There is massive public support for the current bus interchange [at Vauxhall]’ which is ‘intensively used by residents of South London and beyond’. TfL and Lambeth have pointedly not consulted beyond a small area of Vauxhall, with the result that few people of the many throughout the capital who use the interchange are even aware of plans to break the bus/train/Tube interchange by demolishing the bus station.

Lambeth/TfL have for a long time been teetering on the edge of a Department of Communities and Local Government inquiry into planning consultation standards. The Battersea Society intervention brings such an inquiry nearer, for the Society’s letter, signed by the Planning Committee’s Liz Walton, charges TfL with ‘dereliction of duty’ in confining consultation to ‘the narrow area around the [Vauxhall] gyratory itself’ and ‘arrogance’ in responding to public’s views. For years community groups have argued that Lambeth and TfL decide what they want to do and then rig the ‘consultation’ to fit. Vauxhall Bus Station should be retained as ‘the main focus for circulation at ground level’ in a well-designed interchange that would be just as good a symbol of ‘the new Vauxhall’ as the Lambeth/TfL’s plan for a new ‘high street’, the Battersea Society argues.


From Liz Walton, Chair, Planning Committee of The Battersea Society to Alex Williams, Director of Borough Planning at TfL

5 August 2014

Dear Mr Williams

Vauxhall Gyratory and bus station

We are writing to express concern over the proposals for the Vauxhall gyratory and the bus interchange and to support other local groups and petitions arguing to retain the bus station as a primary public transport interchange.

The Battersea Society attended the Nine Elms Open Days at the end of June and viewed the TfL proposals for the Vauxhall gyratory. We were very concerned with the underlying assumption that the bus station had to be replaced but were also irritated by the poor presentation, paucity of justification for each option and general vagueness of details of the schemes displayed.

The sketchy options presented at the Open Days and as set out in the Information leaflet Transforming Vauxhall June 2014 further confirm these concerns. We were surprised that  TfL and the Lambeth did not fully use the opportunity of the Open Days to explain and justify their thinking. On the first day no one from TfL could even explain what the various colours on the options diagrams represented. The size of the display and the level of staffing proved quite inadequate in view of the scale of public concern.

Retention of Current Bus Interchange

There is massive public support for the current bus interchange arrangements which are intensively used by residents of South London and beyond.  Battersea residents use it as their primary interchange with the Underground and other bus routes. We consider it incompetent that no option retaining the bus station has been presented. This would allow TfL and Lambeth to argue the pros and cons for the bus station remaining in situ alongside improving the gyratory. The failure to argue a case for demolishing the bus station reflects an arrogance in terms of response to public views. Even in their outline form it is clear that none of the options presents a reasonable public transport solution acceptable to bus users when compared with the current position. In particular we were astonished to see options suggesting stops under the railway viaduct, where noise and air pollution levels are extremely high and the dangers of large numbers having to cross roads obvious.

We are also concerned that buses stopping on the road rather than away from other traffic will run counter to the need to improve traffic flow around the gyratory.

Lack of Wider Consultation

Vauxhall Bus Station is second only to Hammersmith in the number of travellers using this as an interchange between underground, overground and bus travel. It is a dereliction of their duty to the travelling public that TfL have so far confined their consultation to residents in the narrow area around the gyratory itself.  While we represent Battersea residents, travellers from other boroughs also have the right to be consulted.

The Significant role of the bus station

Our view on the significant role of the bus station was expressed in our comments on the draft Lambeth SPD, to which we responded in November 2012. This view still stands. In our response we argued that:

‘The essential role for Vauxhall Cross is as a major public transport interchange which must be maintained and enhanced, following any rationalisation of the gyratory. The current bus station provides a vast improvement on the geographically scattered bus stops that existed prior to its construction. Its great advantage is the ability to interchange between buses, tube and rail without having to cross roads or use long subways as was required previously. The bus station is a relatively safe environment for those using it in the evenings, hence encouraging use of public transport.

Clearly any way in which the gyratory could be improved within the context of retaining the bus station in its current location would be welcomed. In particular it should be possible to allow buses travelling from the Waterloo direction to enter the station directly from the Embankment without having to go under the railway. Improved at-grade crossings for pedestrians should be provided from the bus station to link into Nine Elms and the riverside.

We are sceptical about the rationale for the ‘Removal of the bus station canopy and integration of the transport interchange into the new high street.’(Vauxhall Cross panel at Expo). The possibility that the area might resort to ‘disaggregated’ bus stops (para 4.10.16 of the SPD principles document) scattered across the area would be disastrous for bus users if implemented. We consider the bus station should be retained as the main focus of circulation at ground level and through sensitive environmental improvements continue to  provide a safe and pleasant covered area for public transport users. Its design and management should reflect the quality and nature of proposed new high rise development around Vauxhall. An effective well designed interchange could be as much a symbol of the new Vauxhall as an attempt to develop the high street along Bondway. It is a major gateway to the rest of the VNEB area and any action which would deter potential bus users, such as wandering round the area looking for the right connection, should be avoided.’

We strongly urge TfL to look again at how safer and more convenient provision for cyclists and improvements to traffic flow could be managed within the context of retaining the bus station. The travelling needs of those using Vauxhall must be paramount. In addition further attention must be paid to how the transport hub links to the developing linear park to the west and the green link through Spring Gardens to Lambeth Bridge. There is currently a giant gap in thinking on how these two exciting routes for pedestrians and leisure cyclists will ever link satisfactorily across Vauxhall Cross.

This letter is being copied to Lambeth and Wandsworth councils, local MPs and councillors, neighbouring civic societies and others to alert them to the Society’s view.

Yours sincerely

Liz Walton, Chair, Planning Committee

The Battersea Society

cc Michelle Dix, Managing Director, Planning

Municipal myopia and mean-spiritedness: the mysterious case of the missing Vauxhall Park memorial to Henry Fawcett

fawcett2

fawcett2The latest addition to The Vauxhall Society’s local history archive is Sarah Bridger’s unravelling of the full story behind a mystery that has perplexed Vauxhall people for over five decades: what really happened to the memorial statue of the social reformer Henry Fawcett that for over half a century stood in Vauxhall Park?

Now owned by Lambeth Council, Vauxhall Park is in itself is a monument to Fawcett (1833-1884). An MP and Postmaster-General, Fawcett was a social reformer who fought to preserve common land for public enjoyment, to open up jobs to women and to secure their right to own property after marriage. Fawcett and his wife Millicent, the Suffragist leader, lived where the park now stands. After Fawcett’s death, his widow and her friends bought the land, designed the park and opened it 1890 as a ‘lung’ for the poor of Vauxhall, a former market-garden district which by the1890s was heavily industrialised , overcrowded and polluted. Three years later, the ceramics tycoon Sir Henry Doulton donated a terracotta statue of Fawcett designed by star Doulton sculptor George Tinworth, he of Vauxhall’s Tinworth Street.

In time, Vauxhall Park and the Fawcett memorial fell into hands of Lambeth Council, and one day in late 1959 this priceless, irreplaceable work of art by a major figure in British sculpture was just not there anymore. The Council has always kept quiet about the statue’s fate, so myths flourished. One story has it that the statue’s head is kept at Henry Fawcett Primary School. Another tale says that the entire memorial was moved to Fawcett’s birthplace, Salisbury, where it can be seen in the market square to this day. Neither is true. The real story, which is one of municipal myopia and mean-spiritedness, can now be told thanks to a research project for The Vauxhall Society history archive carried out by Sarah Bridger, a postgraduate building historian at Fawcett’s old university, Cambridge.

Free Vauxhall One/TVS Walk: Water Lambeth – A Walk Among the Fragments

Albert Embankment before improvements

What disappeared beneath the Albert Embankment: two views of Princes Street, Vauxhall. William Strudwick took the photograph in 1865, just before the demolition men moved in; the watercolour is by J. Findlay, about 1850.

The building of the Albert Embankment in 1868 swept away the medieval waterside settlements of Lambeth parish. Water Lambeth was the larger of the two, and unlike Marsh Lambeth (now Lower Marsh), whose street-line at least survives, little now remains of Water Lambeth. At Water Lambeth’s heart were three parallel streets, Fore Street, Princes Street and Back Lane. Only the line of Back Lane survives, as today’s Lambeth High Street. Using maps and some very early photographs, Lambeth Council archivist Jon Newman will help walkers recapture a sense of what has been lost.

Duration – 1 Hour from 12.30-1.30 Tuesday 5 August 2014.

Meeting Place – Outside the Garden Museum, Lambeth Palace Road, London SE1 7LB

This walk is free to Vauxhall One members but places are limited so please book by emailing nancy.rogers@vauxhallone.co.uk

Got a favourite Vauxhall greenspot? Then tell www.parksandgardens.org

RossGM1765

Lovers of parks and gardens from throughout the Midlands and South-East and South-West have returned home from a visit to Vauxhall, encouraged to spread the word about the need to get full details of favourite green spaces online.

Judith Al-Seffar, National Parks & Gardens Coordinator of the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies headed the visit, which was by a party of NADFAS activists from East and West Midlands, Birmingham, East and West Surrey, Sussex and Somerset. The centrepiece of their visit was a guided tour of the Vauxhall Gardens site and a question-and-answer session over lunch at the Tea House Theatre with guests David Coke, co-author of Vauxhall Gardens: A History, a member of The Vauxhall Society, and Ross Davies, TVS Chairman and author of Vauxhall: A Little History.

These two seldom-seen engravings of the Vauxhall Gardens of Dr Johnson and Rowlandson’s day depict strollers as they pause to listen to the band and vocalist in the open-air structure known as the Orchestra, roughly where the hard courts are in today’s Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. ‘A View of the Orchestra in Vauxhall Garden’ was published as the frontispiece to J. Bew’s Vocal Magazine (1778), and is an anonymous engraving. ‘A Perspective view of the Grand Walk in Vauxhall Gardens, and the Orchestra’ was published in the Gentleman’s Magazine XXXV (August 1765), again an anonymous engraving.

The two seldom-seen engravings of the Vauxhall Gardens of Dr Johnson and Rowlandson’s day (shown on this and the home page) depict strollers as they pause to listen to the band and vocalist in the open-air structure known as the Orchestra, roughly where the hard courts are in today’s Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. ‘A View of the Orchestra in Vauxhall Garden’ was published as the frontispiece to J. Bew’s Vocal Magazine (1778), and is an anonymous engraving. ‘A Perspective view of the Grand Walk in Vauxhall Gardens, and the Orchestra’ was published in the Gentleman’s Magazine XXXV (August 1765), again an anonymous engraving.

The NADFAS visit is part of a drive to encourage members and non-members alike to add to a publicly-available illustrated NADFAS online database of parks and gardens, public and private, the aim of which is alert people not just to the existence of green spaces but to tickle their fancy with the history and the stories that surround them.

NADFAS has 93,000 members throughout the UK as well as societies abroad, and area groups organise lectures, visits and other events as well as volunteering programmes. Friends, supporters and users of green spaces in Vauxhall would do well to feed this parks and gardens databank, for Vauxhall is a plum location for parks’n’gardens fans. As well as Vauxhall Gardens, the area’s greenspots include historic Vauxhall Park and Kennington Park, as well community gardens in and around Bonnington Square, the link with the Tradescant family, The Garden Museum and the ‘Missing Link’ of greenspots with which Vauxhall One plans between The Garden Museum and Vauxhall Cross.

That parks & gardens database: www.parksandgardens.org

National Association of Decorative & Fine Arts Societies: www.nadfas.org.uk

Vauxhall One’s ‘Missing Link’ project winner:

www.vauxhallone.co.uk/news/191-vibrant-voho-the-missing-link-riba-vauxhall-winners-announced

Images by courtesy of David Coke

The July free guided local history walk: the Kia Oval, Wednesday 23 July, 12.30-1.30pm

kia oval photo by WeLiveCricket.com

What, within walking distance of Vauxhall Cross, has been variously a cabbage patch, prisoner-of-war camp, home of the first FA Cup Final and scene of some of England’s greatest sporting highs and lows? It’s The Oval, correct name now the KIA Oval, HQ of Surrey County Cricket Club. This hallowed turf is the setting for the Vauxhall One July guided local history walk, arranged by The Vauxhall Society. Your guide: Surrey CCC’s George Foster. The one sanctum offlimits is the changing rooms as there’s a corporate match on, but as for the rest… It’s on Wednesday 23 July, time 12.30-1.30pm, and it’s free – just book by emailing Vauxhall One’s Rachel Topliss at rachel.topliss@vauxhallone.co.uk

Block booking at Kennington hotel

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The sun may be going in for people living on the Lambeth Council and City Corporation estates behind the Days Hotel at 54 Kennington Road. The hotel’s owners want to knock down the present building and replace it with three blocks of hotel and serviced apartments, 7, 9 and 22 storeys high.

There’s an exhibition on Friday 18 July from 2 to 8pm and Saturday 19 July from 10am to 2pm, in Teaching Room 1, 4th floor, Oasis College, 1 Kennington Road, SE1 7QP. There’ll be more details on www.54kenningtonroad.co.uk from 18 July, or if you can’t wait that long, you can speak to Issam Ismail, the hotel’s general manager (on behalf of the developer, Cranborne Enterprises) or his colleague, Jack Organ, on 020 7323 3544, email contact@54kenningtonroad.co.uk. You can also write to the ‘54 Kennington Road Consultation, c/o Camargue, 7 Bayley St, WC1B 3HB’. Camargue are the developer’s PR people. The addition of the word ‘Consultation’ signifies that in due course Camargue will recycle your comments or the fact of your visit to the exhibition to inform Lambeth Council that everybody loves the idea of three blocks of hotel and serviced apartments, 7, 9 and 22 storeys high. Lambeth is then likely to take the developer’s word for it, rubber-stamp the ensuing planning application and pocket the proceeds from a ‘Community Infrastructure Levy’.

Vauxhall Bus Station now in DOUBLE the danger?

i love vauxhall bus station badge

i love vauxhall bus station badgeUntil last weekend, there were two TfL/Lambeth proposals for rejigging the roundabout at Vauxhall Bridge, each involving the destruction of Vauxhall Bus Station roundabout. Now there are four, all saying the same thing: the Bus Station goes. Signatures on the Save Vauxhall Bus Station online petition are expected to surge. (If you haven’t signed please do so now.)

Such was the public outcry in Vauxhall when the first two proposals were made that TFL/Lambeth/Wandsworth Councils returned to the drawing board. The promise was to come back with alternative proposals, at least one of which would include the retention of Vauxhall Bus Station.

Well, TfL/Lambeth/Wandsworth came back with a public exhibition in Vauxhall on Thursday 26 June, at which the two old and two new plans were on show. Within hours, Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey and Save Vauxhall Bus Station Campaigners and members of the Kennington, Oval and Vauxhall Forum (KOVF) had steam coming out their ears and were exhibiting signs of road rage. The reason? Contrary to the assurances they thought they had been given, the Bus Station appears in none of TfL/Lambeth’s four ‘proposals’.

The only novelty, in Plan Three, is a proposed TfL Skyscraper plonked where the Bus Station will no longer be if Tfl/Lambeth get their way. Some gormless functionary, possibly from The Communications Agency PR firm, let slip that the skyscraper – unidentified on the architects’ impression – is ‘to generate the £40 million’ TfL needs to fund all the lovely improvements. All four plans, which go out to ‘consultation’ in the autumn involved bus passengers queuing at bus stops scattered around the roundabout.

The TfL/Lambeth/Wandsworth proposals for demolishing Vauxhall Bus Station will be posted on the Lambeth website shortly. KOVF’s website has had to be changed in light of what KOVF sees as a betrayal. KOVF, a consultative group of local community associations set up and funded by Lambeth, will discuss developments at a board meeting on Thursday 3 July Wednesday and at a public meeting at the Carmelita Centre on Thursday 10 July.

The Save Vauxhall Bus Station Campaign says:

How to demolish the bus station in four different ways
In spite of re-assurances from Lambeth and TfL that these new plans would contain an option to retain the bus station, we were presented with four options, all of which include demolition of the bus station and its replacement by bus stops scattered roadside around Vauxhall Cross in various combinations.

The ‘central integrated bus interchange facility’ which Lambeth and TfL are trying to pass off as a bus station is a collection of some, but probably not all, the bus stops crammed roadside along a narrowed Bondway at the southern end of what is now the bus platform, with no canopy and separated from the tube and trains.

And what is the desperate imperative that necessitates the loss of the bus station? It is that any plan must be made to fit around Lambeth’s determination to build a High Street in its place. This week Emerald Stores closes in Bondway, to be replaced by an estate agent. No doubt this will be the first of many to take up residence in Lambeth’s High Street, to service the luxury homes stretching from the bus station island site to Battersea.

Is this what we are to lose our bus station for?

Lambeth Council ‘consultation’ and Vauxhall Bus Station:

bus station drawing competition

Vauxhall Bus Stn Drawing Competition-18‘About as scientific as those adverts for face cream that tell you 87% of 124 women thought the cream made them look younger’

The majority party in Lambeth Council is at great pains to convince residents that its politicians and planners wish to deliver only what residents want. And so they do, provided the residents want what the politicians want. In spite of the politicos’ constantly-repeated mantra of ‘nothing has been decided yet,’ Lambeth decided before any consultation took place to demolish the bus station and get rid of the gyratory to make way for a ‘High Street.’

‘Consultation,’ Lambeth-style, has not been an attempt to establish what all the people who use Vauxhall Cross want but a marketing exercise designed to sell to the public the Council’s intentions as set out in the draft Vauxhall Special Planning Document (SPD). The ‘consultation’ reports in the SPD are dressed up to look like unbiased scientific research, with lots of numbers, graphs and percentages, but are about as scientific as those adverts for face cream that tell you 87% of 124 women thought the cream made them look younger.

Lambeth made commendable efforts to sell their vision within a very small geographical area, thus representing a tiny fraction of the people who use Vauxhall Cross. The council sent out questionnaires to 30,438 homes in Princes, Oval, Bishops, Larkhall and Stockwell wards. Roadshows and exhibitions were held and associations and community groups were visited, but only in the immediate Vauxhall area. The typical attendance was between 40 and 100 people. Another 2,000 questionnaires were distributed and 700 people were ‘engaged with’, whatever that means.

Of these 32,438 questionnaires, the Save Vauxhall Bus Station Campaign’s information is that 764 were returned and these were used as a basis for ‘confirmation’ of Lambeth’s previously-decided plans to demolish the bus station and get rid of the gyratory to make way for a ‘High Street.’

The response to Lambeth’s ‘consultation’ was 2.36% of those polled, a statistically insignificant number upon which to judge people’s views – had there been any intention to.

There is no guarantee that the group who replied were representative of the users as a whole. It’s likely that people with plenty of free time and/or strong views on a particular cause, such as removal of the gyratory, would be over-represented. Similarly, those under-represented are likely to be those who use the bus station most – for example, busy parents with three children and two jobs and no time to read leaflets stuffed through the front door. They’re the kind of people politicians are supposed to look out for.

As a proportion of all those to be affected by Lambeth’s plans, this 2.36% is even less representative. Nobody in Brixton, Clapham, Southwark, Wandsworth, Westminster, or any of the thousands of commuters to and from Vauxhall were even informed of the planned carve-up, let alone consulted.

And yet Lambeth are happy to justify their plans on the views of 764 people from one small section of those affected.

THAT QUESTIONABLE QUESTIONNAIRE

The questionnaire used as a basis for justifying the removal of the gyratory and the demolition of Vauxhall Bus Station is not unbiased. It is designed to get the required response.

There are no questions in the questionnaire. Nobody is asked:

‘Should we look at all available options to improve pedestrian experience of the traffic at Vauxhall?’

Or:

‘Do you think the bus station should be retained in its current form and location?’

Instead there are ten statements with which you are asked to agree or disagree, mostly couched in terms with which it would be difficult to disagree. Thus:

‘Making Vauxhall greener by connecting existing parks and planting new street trees is really important.’

This soft-soap is now being used to justify turning Bondway into a pedestrian precinct as part of a ‘Linear Park’ – with no mention of the resulting loss of Vauxhall Bus Station .

CONCLUSION

The fate of Vauxhall Bus Station and the redevelopment of Vauxhall Cross is not a little local question. It is a matter of importance to many thousands of people in London and the surrounding areas.

Lambeth Council and Transport for London have a responsibility to properly inform and consult all those concerned. So far, Lambeth and TfL’s performance is inadequate.

Dismayed by the Vauxhall community’s rejection of Lambeth’s ‘consultation’ and the TfL’s initial proposals based upon Lambeth’s assurances, TfL says it is about to present a wider set of options. And then consult properly.

We shall see.

Meanwhile, sign the online petition at change.org

Vauxhall resident Michael Leapman’s letter to The Standard