Information Commissioner orders Lambeth to come clean on secret Kennington Park, Kennington Green and Vauxhall developer deals

keybridge house (proposed)

keybridge-north-along-South-Lambeth-RoadThe Government’s Information Commissioners’ Office (ICO) has ruled against Lambeth Council’s refusal to divulge correspondence on the secret deals it does with property developers.

The ruling, logged on the Kennington Oval & Vauxhall Forum website, shows that ICO has thrown out Lambeth’s plea of commercial confidentiality and the ‘unreasonable’ cost of complying with a Freedom of Information Act request. ICO gave Lambeth 35 days to issue a fresh response or face High Court proceedings for contempt. The ICO findings do not nullify the secret Lambeth deals but increase the pressure on the Department of Communities and Local Government to investigate whether abuse of process is systematic in Lambeth.

The information requests, from the then-chairman of the Kennington Oval & Vauxhall Forum, concern two ‘confidential’ Lambeth Council deals. Lambeth struck one secret deal with British Telecom over the huge Keybridge House development on South Lambeth Road, Vauxhall, and what Lambeth viewed as the ‘insignificant’ issue of going back on its own policy of requiring that 4O% of new homes in any development be ‘affordable’.

ICO dismissed Lambeth’s case for secrecy and pointed out that the we choice Keybridge House redevelopment was not ‘universally lauded’. The Vauxhall Society, ICO reported, ‘criticised’ Lambeth for going back on its professed duty to ‘develop and sustain stable neighbourhoods’ in allowing only 2.4% of Keybridge House homes to be ‘affordable’ instead of Lambeth’s own requirement of 40%.

A second secret deal the public authority struck was with another public authority, Transport for London, on the price for and conditions of handing over to TfL parts of Kennington Park and Kennington Green for the construction of the Northern Line Extension. NLE will run under Vauxhall between Kennington Tube Station and very good site the Sainsbury property development at the Vauxhall end of the Wandsworth Road in Wandsworth.

See the full ICO ruling on the KOVF website

Northern Line Extension: legal challenge withdrawn

northern line extension

northern line extensionLooks like it’s full speed ahead for the Northern Line Extension after the rapid-fire withdrawal of a High Court challenge to an Act of Parliament nodded through at Transport for London’s bidding.

The Transport Works Act OK’ing the start of building work on NLE sailed through Parliament on 13 October 2014.

But then notes for Lambeth Councillors ahead of the 9 February meeting of the Lambeth Cabinet referred to a ‘legal challenge’. A Thomas Bartlett had on 15 January been granted an injunction that would ‘delay the start of the [NLE] project, even if the challenge is quashed.’

But not to worry. Lo and behold, on 9 February, the very day of the Lambeth ‘Cabinet’ meeting, the High Court announced that Thomas Bartlett had withdrawn his objection. No details were given. A deal, it would seem, has been done. At a time of austerity and great financial and market uncertainty, Transport for London is now free to splash out vast sums of public money on an uncosted project of dubious value.

Except of course to Wandsworth developers and to TfL, which will operate NLE. With nobody willing or able to say how much NLE will cost, and given the propensity for public projects costs to balloon, it is still not clear that NLE will ever be completed,

Lambeth Council regards itself as a partner in NLE and is even putting money into it. NLE involves digging up Vauxhall to drive a second Tube tunnel under Vauxhall homes, many of which already have the noise and vibration from the Victoria line.


Read previous Vauxhall Society posts on the Northern Line Extension

Northern Line Extension hits a snag, but surprise, surprise, Labour Councillors find ‘early indications of strong support’ for ‘remodelling’ Vauxhall Bus Station

vauxhall bus station by christian richter

Did you know there are ‘early indications of strong support’ for the removal of the gyratory at Vauxhall and the remodelling of the bus station’? As far as The Vauxhall Society can tell, there’s no support at all for the ‘remodelling’ (i.e. halving) of Vauxhall Bus Station except for that of property-development partners Lambeth Council and Transport for London. As to the gyratory, it’s widely understood that it will remain, but become two- rather than one-way, in which case it will be as big a mess as it is now or else TfL/Lambeth would have designed it as two-way to begin with.

Be that as it may, this ‘strong support’ is noted on page 33 of the agenda for the meeting of the Lambeth Council ‘Cabinet’ on Monday, 9 February. Could it be that this very ‘strong support’ springs from Lambeth’s elective dictatorship, 59 line-toeing Labour Councillors to three Tories and buy cialis low price one Green? Wherever this ‘strong support’ is located, it is enough for Lambeth to agree a business case for the project. In the meantime, council officials declare, the ‘main site’ has been marketed and ‘a new development partner’ is to be announced shortly. When not busy having fits about Chinese and Middle-Eastern civil rights records, councillors continue to hand out to the business and interests of these same regions planning permissions for ‘major development’ in Vauxhall/Nine Elms. Progress on these projects is being hampered only because they block out people’s right to light.

Lambeth and TfL previously announced ‘strong support’ for the Northern Line Extension (NLE) from Kennington to Wandsworth, again to oblige developers, support so strong that building work is now held up by a legal challenge to the necessary Transport Works Act approved on 13 October 2014. The NLE ‘consultation’ struck a new low in our public life and set the pattern for dodgy Lambeth/TfL ‘consultation’ from that day on.

How provoking if the Vauxhall Gyratory/Vauxhall Bus Station’ remodelling’ were to hit a legal snag similar to that holding up NLE. Who knows what the future holds?


Monday, 9 February Lambeth ‘Cabinet’ Agenda, all 321 pages of it

Nine Elms Vauxhall Partnership Open Days 26/27 June: don’t just listen – speak up to Save Vauxhall Bus Station


Nine-Elms-Vauxhall-Partnership-Open-Days-1Roll up, roll up at a time that suits bureaucrats’ convenience, on two weekdays, for a vision of the Promised Land. Promised by Lambeth and Wandsworth Councils to Chinese, Gulf, Irish and Malaysian businessmen to build up their property portfolios, that is. On Thursday and we use it Friday June 26 and 27 – musn’t eat into council officials’ weekends – there’s to be Open Days in Vauxhall for the Nine Elms Partnership. This is the Labour-run Lambeth and Tory-run Wandsworth quango you’re paying for to smooth the way for skyscrapers to hog the river from Lambeth Bridge to Battersea Bridge. Most of the skyscrapers are pricey flats, marketed to overseas investors as bank collateral rather for than living in. One June 26 and 27 at Bolney Meadow Community Centre you’re in for a lot of guff about ‘plans for new affordable homes’. Whatever you do, don’t lower the tone by asking the suits what an ‘affordable’ home is, or what percentage of such homes Lambeth and Wandsworth normally require in residential developments, skyscrapers included. Don’t, don’t ask how much lower is the ‘affordable’ percentage in the Vauxhall Nine Elms ‘Opportunity Area’ on show. Above all, don’t ask in how many cases Lambeth or Wandsworth councils have buckled and agreed to even fewer (or no) affordable homes than the VNE standard.

If you want to keep Vauxhall Bus Station, then do say so on June 26-27 for the ‘highlight’ of the exhibition is the plan for ‘new town centres’ at Vauxhall Battersea Power Station and a ‘Have Your Say’ on the Vauxhall Gyratory. The ‘plan’ was to raze Vauxhall Bus Station to make way for the Vauxhall ‘town centre’ and easier road access to Battersea’s skyscrapers. But that was before the community had its say through the Vauxhall Society-sponsored non-party Save Vauxhall Bus Station community campaign. This sent Transport for London back to the drawing board. Lambeth Council is now hoping TfL can come up soon with what could be dressed up as an alternative plan. Have Your Say all over again on June 26 and 27. The suits there are bad listeners.

Sign the Save Vauxhall Bus Station Campaign petition, now over 1500 signatures

Download the Save Vauxhall Bus Station leaflet: Side 1 and Side 2

Nine Elms Vauxhall Partnership Open Day:

Thursday 26 June, 3-8pm and Friday 27 June, 8am – 6pm

Bolney Meadow Community Centre

31 Bolney Street

London SW8 1EZ

Still at risk: ‘Vauxhall Bus Station must go!’, says Council leader

Jonathan Cook

Jonathan Cook‘The [Vauxhall] bus station will be replaced.’

So says the Deputy Leader of Wandsworth Borough Council, Jonathan Cook, as The Vauxhall Society’s all-party, capital-wide Save Vauxhall Bus Station campaign online petition heads for its 2,000th signature.
Contacted by a constituent asking for Wandsworth Council to oppose Lambeth’s ‘extraordinary proposals to demolish Vauxhall Bus Station’, Cllr Cook replied on 7 April:

‘The proposed changes are part of the continual upgrading of local transport, as the Nine Elms regeneration gathers pace, and will improve Vauxhall Cross as an effective interchange, which is clearly essential as you note.

‘The [Vauxhall]bus station will be replaced with a series of relocated bus stops, facilitating efficient bus routes to and through the area. Improvements will result in a much more pedestrian-friendly environment and better access throughout the recommended site entire area.

‘I happened to walk through yesterday, on my way from Victoria to Nine Elms, and was struck by the bus station itself, which I’m afraid I’ve never much liked from an aesthetic point of view, but also how very pedestrian- unfriendly the Vauxhall Gyratory vicinity is.

‘In my experience it’s not much better from a driver’s perspective. In addition, the changes should improve traffic flow for those living in the borough, immediately to the east of the area.

‘I hope this helps clarify the plans, and reassures you that the changes will bring improvements, and certainly no loss of service to transport users.’

Cllr Cook’s constituent, Christopher Mitchell, says: ‘I fail to see how relocating the bus stops will improve Vauxhall Cross as an effective interchange. It seems to me once again that the convenience of ordinary London users of public transport is to be sacrificed to the interests of the developers of tower blocks.’

Conservative-controlled Wandsworth wants to be connected to the London Underground. Wandsworth needs the support of neighbouring Labour-controlled Lambeth if TfL is to extend the Northern Line Tube from Kennington (in Lambeth) into Wandsworth.

To reach Wandsworth, TfL will have to dig up a lot of Vauxhall, and is counting on Lambeth footing part of the uncosted bill for building the usefull link ‘Northern Line Extension’.

Alarmed by the widespread community and cross-party opposition to Lambeth Labour’s resolve to demolish the bus station, TfL has now called off public consultation until after council elections on 22 May in case the issue costs Lambeth Labour re-election.

TfL is also now offering a ‘save-the-bus station’ option, although Lambeth prevaricates. The Lib Dems and Tories (In Lambeth, but not, it seems, Wandsworth) say Vauxhall Bus Station must stay.

Does Cllr Cook know something about TfL and Lambeth’s intentions that the voters don’t, or is it just that he doesn’t get out much?

As well as his council’s Deputy Leader, Wandsworth’s Jonathan Cook is also ‘Cabinet’ member for ‘Environment, Culture & Safety’. A financial services lawyer, at the last election an interest of Cllr Cook’s was listed as Director and viagra generico Practice Manager of his wife’s law firm,‘a boutique [….] specialising in funds and fund management’.

Who is Wandsworth’s Cllr Jonathan Cook?

Wandsworth Borough councillor profile

Wandsworth Borough register of interests


Vauxhall Bus Station: What a difference a decade makes…


bus-station-posterTen years ago, a Peter Hendy, Managing Director of Surface Transport at Transport for London, Peter Hendy, said:

“The Vauxhall Cross interchange [Bus Station] has been an ambitious project for TfL. For passengers at Vauxhall Cross, changing between bus, rail and Tube had been difficult for a long time. At the same time, pedestrians and cyclists had to use a road network dominated by cars and lorries. We’ve tackled these issues head on and passengers and residents will have a transport interchange that will improve their journeys and make them feel safer.”

Can this be the same Peter Hendy who now runs Transport for London and has put his name to current TfL/Lambeth Council plan for two options on a new road/rail/Tube interchange at Vauxhall Cross? Both options in the ‘new’ plan involve going back to where we started at Vauxhall, razing Vauxhall Bus Station, and scattering bus stops all over the place to make ‘passengers and residents’ feel less safe on journeys made worse?

What’s happened to change Mr Hendy’s mind? Surely not Lambeth Council Leader Lib Peck’s offer to support TfL’s wish to dig and run a gold mine – the Northern Line Extension, built under Lambeth to serve Wandsworth? In return, and Vauxhall Bus Station demolished, Lambeth gets its wish to foist on Vauxhall an imitation ‘high street’.

Shaken by the Save Vauxhall Bus Station campaign, Henry has sent his team back to the drawing board. Their brief is to see if they can come up with an third option, one that will retain some part of the bus station while allowing Lambeth to return Vauxhall Cross, one of London’ busiest transport interchanges, to being a building site.

Meanwhile, Lambeth is showing signs of panic. The Council elections are on 22 May. Labour is the majority party, and with over 1200 signatures on the Save Vauxhall Bus Station online petition, Vauxhall Labour councillors now say that keeping the Bus Station is an option but have yet to come clean on whether that’s party policy. The news for councillors who wish to keep their seats is that between now and the 22 May election, the Save Vauxhall Bus Station campaign will be asking candidates to go public and say whether they’ll vote to keep the bus station or not.

What Peter Hendy and TfL were saying a decade ago

NLE no longer flush with cash as developers pooh-pooh sewage scheme?


toiletVauxhall community groups have long held their noses over Lambeth councillors’ scramble to do the bidding of Transport for London and support the Northern Line Extension (NLE) to the luxury flat and office developments at Battersea Power Station (BPS). Now BPS’s developers themselves are kicking up a stink, and it could derail NLE even before it’s got the Government rubber-stamp expected later this year.

The reason? SP Setia and Sime Darby, BPS’s Malaysian owners, are threatening to hold back a promised payment of £200 million towards NLE. Why? Because, say the developers, of the ‘noise, odour and traffic’ of work due to start on a building site between BPS and Berkeley Group’s Riverlight luxury flats development.

Thames Water is applying for permission to use the site for six years as one of the bases for huge tunnel-boring machines to start digging London’s £4 billion new sewage system, the ‘Thames Tideway’. Thames Water want to build another such site by the side of the MI6 building at Vauxhall Cross, but this has yet to spook the spooks. Maybe they haven’t noticed.

BPS’s developers say that the Battersea site will make their office development next door unlettable, ‘compromising the deliverability of the power station and the funding of the Northern Line Extension’. It’s a bit late in the day for BPS to complain about the sewer – they could have read all about the Thames Tideway Tunnel on The Vauxhall Society website. Moreover, won’t customers for the offices and flats prefer flush toilets to the River Thames?

But it’s not too late in the day for canny developers in the Vauxhall, Nine Elms & Battersea (VNEB) to push for smaller levies on their planning permissions as well as lower contributions to NLE. BPS is the kingpin of VNEB development, and if BPS’s backers don’t back down, BPS’ll spook other developers into seeking to pay less towards NLE or even into pulling out.

Of course it will never, ever have occurred to the BPS developers that there is another option for footing the we choice NLE bill, oh no. We’re now in the run-up to the General Election (7 May 2015). NLE/BPS would never have been a runner without Treasury backing, and the Chancellor wants to go to the polls with eye-catching ‘Growth’ projects in the bag.

Solution? Let the public pick up the bill if the developers won’t.

Telling Thames Water to back off won’t wash. London’s sewage system is now so antiquated that both the water company and the Government are already under notice that the EU will take them to court if there’s any more delay.

Read more here:

And read more about The Vauxhall Society’s coverage of Thames Tideway and NLE

Transport for London’s Northern Line Public Inquiry: a public disgrace meriting a public inquiry of its own?

Northen-Line-extensionHas the Public Inquiry into the Transport for London’s plans for extending the Northern Line Extension been a waste of time and money? And how open to challenge is the conduct and therefore the finding of the Inquiry?

The NLE Inquiry finished on 20 December, nearly three weeks ahead of schedule. There remain two site visits, on 14 and 15 January, by the much be-lettered Inquiry Chairman, Stuart Nixon BSc (Hons) DipTE EEng MICE MRTPI MCIHT. We can then settle down for a wait of least three months before Mr. Nixon’s finding, whether for or against NLE, is made public.

Mr Nixon was appointed to chair the inquiry by Patrick McLoughlin, the Secretary of State for Transport, whose department is close to TfL. In accordance with The Fee for Inquiries (Standard Daily Amount) (England) Regulations 2000, a chairman’s standard fee is £630 a day.

Meanwhile, back among us voters and taxpayers, TfL starts drilling boreholes any minute now, right through to April, ‘to check on soil-type and water ground-levels’ along the route of the NLE tunnels to be dug from Kennington to Nine Elms and Battersea. NLE has yet to say how many boreholes and where.

The Inquiry is a statutory necessity, but it remains to be seen if it has also been a waste of taxpayers’ money. Ditto the time and the money of the volunteers who gave evidence and were not on the payroll of the vested interests, among them TfL/The Mayor of London’s office, and the London Boroughs of Lambeth and Wandsworth, and perhaps Her Majesty’s Government as well.

Mr. Nixon, the Inquiry Chairman, may decide to brave the displeasure of Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, and vote ‘No’ to NLE.

But Mr Pickles is not bound by the Inquiry. With a General Election next year, may not The Secretary of State want to trumpet an ‘initiative’ (NLE)? All along, NLE has been sold as ‘GROWTH’ and can be now recycled as ‘RECOVERY’.

That’s as may be. What of the NLE project and the Inquiry itself? A legal opinion sought by The Vauxhall Society says:

‘The whole NLE process from the design, public consultation and Public Inquiry appears to have been a complete waste of time and money,

For TfL, the pivotal party to the NLE Inquiry, in a truly extraordinary move, to now propose and arrange for test drilling to ascertain the geology of the proposed route, before the Inquiry has been completed, indicates that:

– the whole planning and design of the NLE has been to date has been guesswork, incompetent guesswork,

– there has been and is a consummate disregard for process, and TfL is prepared to act in a manner entirely contemptuous of the Public Inquiry and of the rights of all other interested parties,

– TfL does not disclose it actually knows what it is doing. TfL has proposed a plan without having the necessary information which would enable it to actually work out that its proposal really is, what the effects may be and whether the chosen route, and indeed the whole plan, is actually reasonable and, most importantly, financially feasible,

-the fact that TfL now proposes to undertake informative geological drilling must clearly bring into question the entirety of the public statements made about the proposed NLE route, its costing and the evidence given to the Public Inquiry by TfL and its experts.

The legal opinion continues:

Furthermore, the fact that the chairman of the Public Inquiry has made no comment may indicate that the Inquiry is not being undertaken in a serious manner where procedural fairness and cialis tablets sale rigour of process is being fully demonstrated.

The whole Inquiry and its results, whatever they may be, are now in serious doubt and on any view must be substantially based upon either inadequate or incorrect information.

The whole process, from public consultation to the Public Inquiry, needs to be restarted with full evidence being provided, which has clearly not been either available or provided to the public or the Inquiry. The whole process is disclosed as being entirely flawed and to the shame of any Government that would countenance it.’

TfL: boreholes to the lot of you?:

Northern Line Extension: TfL’s New Year Resolution – ‘Must start drilling boreholes from Kennington to Battersea’

Northen-Line-extensionTransport for London ‘needs to undertake further investigation work to understand the ground conditions’ along the route of the tunnels to be dug for the proposed Northern Line Extension from Kennington to Nine Elms and Battersea.

This will involve drilling boreholes to check on soil-type and water ground-levels between January and April. The work will be done weekdays 8am-6pm and Saturdays 6am – 1pm and, says TFL, the muck will be kept onsite and ‘acoustic sheeting used to minimise noise’.

TfL isn’t saying how many boreholes and where until the New Year, but does say it will then write to you before one is dug near you. TfL has a bad record on NLE consultation, so if you want to check what they are up to this time, you can try to consult and engage with TfL ‘Consultation and Engagement’ official Brigid Burnham at, or there’s ‘customer services’ at or telephone by dialling an expensive 0845 number, 0845 305 1234.

Don’t like paying 0845 call prices? Browse ‘0845’ for alternatives.

Northern Line Extension: even more commercial developers need to be crammed into Vauxhall, Nine Elms and Battersea if business is to repay that £1 billion Treasury loan

Vauxhall Cluster diagram.jpg

clsvx1Battersea and Nine Elms, the two new Tube stations on the projected Northern Line Extension, will have to be in Transport for London’s Zone One, the same as Vauxhall, and so will Kennington.

That’s the verdict from developer CLS’s Richard Tice, writing to the Secretary of State for Transport in support of the Northern Line Extension. Otherwise, says Mr Tice, commercial developers will find Vauxhall, Nine Elms & Battersea less attractive.

‘Crucially, the repayment of the NLE Treasury loan [….] depends on the ability to attract commercial occupiers,’ says Mr Tice. He writes and gave evidence to the current NLE Public Inquiry in his dual capacity as CEO of CLS Holdings plc chairman of Vauxhall One (VX1). VX1 is the local Business Improvement District company, which has 200 or so member-businesses.

TfL, Mr Tice writes, has got it wrong in assuming that there will be no ‘net increase’ in usage of the local transport, even though there are to be 16,000 new homes and ‘25,000 new jobs’. Over 1,000 people will also travel daily to the new US Embassy either to work or to apply for visas.

Unless Kennington, Battersea and Nine Elms stations are in TfL Zone One as well as Two, the CLS/VX1 leader says ‘to save money, many people will walk or cycle to Vauxhall to benefit from Zone One.’

Vauxhall Cluster diagram.jpg

That would ‘dilute one of the core objectives, which is to reduce overcrowding at Vauxhall.’

What Mr Tice does not say is that if even more commercial developers are not attracted, the burden of loan repayment will be heavier on the companies already there – unless, of course, the Mayor and Chancellor of the day shift that burden onto the public as they did with the Olympics.

The CLS/Vauxhall One letter in full

What the tunnellers say