Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens: the art of artworking

vauxhall pleasure gardens proposed statues

vauxhall pleasure gardens proposed statuesVauxhall is to get two more municipal ‘artworks’, to add to the outsize bath toy hippo now bobbing about at anchor in the Thames off Vauxhall Bridge.

The latest artworks are to perch atop the two 40-ft black concrete pillars commissioned by the Friends of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens and erected at the Kennington Lane entrance to the Vauxhall Gardens site four years ago.

The artworks are of blackened steel ribbon folded to roughly life-size silhouettes. One silhouette is of an 18th-century belle and the other of the artist’s idea of a contemporary beau, a lounging youth wearing a baseball cap back to front. Being ‘contemporary’, the male artwork keeps his hat undoffed in the lady’s presence while, one hand on hip or in his pocket (it’s hard to tell), with the other hand he presents her with a flower. If you have any views on this artwork you have until 8 October to comment on the planning application.

The pillars beneath, according to the planning application, were commissioned by the Friends of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, whose vice-chairman was then Paola Piglia, a professional artist. The Friends then embarked upon a ‘significant’ three-year ‘consultation’ to chose a design for the statues, which was then cut short, although a clear winner was to emerge: Paola Piglia who, according to the FOVPG website, is still the charity’s vice-chairman.

The image shown here is from the FOVPG website. The cost of constructing and erecting these artworks is not given, although the artist is believed not to be charging, the professional exposure on the historic Vauxhall Gardens site being reward enough.

The budget for the pillars, according to FOVPG’s designers, DSDHA, was £200,000. Mulberry trees had to be uprooted to make way for the black concrete, and to this day puzzled Vauxhall residents and visitors are heard to wonder whether the black concrete pillars are ventilation pipes or incinerator vents.

Until Vauxhall Gardens closed in 1859 another artwork stood nearby. This was Roubilliac’s statue of Handel (the Gardens’ first music director), now in the Victoria & Albert Museum. The installation of the new artworks requires a planning application, but the result seems in little doubt. The application is by Lambeth Council itself, made by DSDHA on behalf of the council and FOVPG. Lambeth will therefore rule on its own application, and is expected to say yes. Indeed, it’s such a formality that councillors are leaving the decision to say yes to council officials.

The application, 14/04943/RG3:

To have your say on Application 14/04943/RG3, do so by 8 October; any problems, contact the Case Officer: Lauren Shallcross, phone: 020 7926 8349, email:

Paopla Piglia’s website:

DHSDA and those two black concrete pillars:


Where the mulberry trees went

‘Who has said Vauxhall Bus Station cannot remain, and on what evidence?’

vauxhall at night by greg mccormick

vauxhall at night by greg mccormickThe letter The Vauxhall Society published from South London clergy saying that the present Vauxhall Bus Station must stay has really set the cat among the pigeons.

The letter has drawn replies which appear to show that a rift is opening between the bus station’s two enemies, Lambeth Council and Transport for London.

‘The exact configuration of the bus station as is does not look possible, however ensuring Vauxhall is still an effective transport interchange for all users remains a priority,’ writes Lib Peck, Leader of Lambeth Council.

Cllr Peck talks of her ‘political vision for a Vauxhall town centre’ on the bus station site. And tests to see if ‘there could remain a centralised bus station and (gyratory) two-way working’. Her ‘vision’ appears not have noticed that a ‘town centre’ is already being built by private developers next door to the bus station at ‘Vauxhall Square’. Cllr Peck must have forgotten Lambeth has already given planning permission for it.

David Rayner, TfL Customer Service Adviser, writes: ‘We realise the popularity of the existing bus station at Vauxhall, and I can assure you that no final decision has been reached on whether this bus station will be removed or not.’

Both Lambeth and TfL agree on kicking the Vauxhall Bus Station debate into the long grass, although it’ll have to be pretty long grass indeed to hide the central issue. This is that whatever the eventual plan for the changing the Vauxhall Gyratory from one to two-way traffic (itself a change of dubious value), the existing bus station must stay.

Meanwhile, endless ‘consultations’ will now be prolonged into next year, there’s to be ‘qualitative research’ , and a PR company paid to tell people what they think and to tell TfL/Lambeth what TfL/Lambeth wants to be told.

Best guess? All this expensive, time-wasting flummery will produce another Vauxhall Bus Station option, that the existing bus station site will be ‘kept’ – in the sense of being shrunk by between two-thirds and three-quarters. That’s despite the faster, heavier bus and other vehicle traffic a change to the gyratory is promised to offer.

Meanwhile, the Lambeth and TfL replies to the clergy’s letter have annoyed transport specialist Professor Sir Malcolm Green, Chairman of the Lansdowne Green Residents Association.

Professor Green comments:

‘Neither she [Lib Peck] nor TfL have given any reason or evidence for why the bus station as is cannot remain. If the plans for the gyratory are still so fluid, how can such a statement be valid? Who has said it cannot remain, and on what evidence?

The Lambeth language has changed. They are no longer talking about creating a “High Street” at Vauxhall Cross. It is now to be a “Town Centre”. Both seem pie in the sky. Whether we like it or not Vauxhall Cross is primarily a transport interchange. It has been for decades, and even centuries. There are some 2500 buses, 750 trains and 700 tube trains passing through each day. Getting rid of the gyratory may improve the impact of the traffic, but it will not go away as this is the gateway to major routes into and out of London, as well as local traffic. Nobody has articulated what is meant by a Town Centre here, it is hard to imagine a place of peace and quiet contemplation. Why not make a virtue of necessity: improve the traffic, enhance the interchange and keep the bus station?

This topic has a long way to run.

Thank you to all the signatories [of the clergy letter] for pushing forward this debate.’

South London clergy call for retention of ‘existing Vauxhall Bus Station’ to protect parishioners

Vauxhall Square

‘Depave’ offer to Vauxhall streets in flood risk area

archive image of flooding

archive image of floodingBy charging such high parking fees, Lambeth Council encourages residents to pave over their front gardens and park off-road. Now Lambeth Council is offering to help people who live in the Vauxhall flood risk area to ‘depave’, or remove hard paving such as concrete or tarmac, replacing it with permeable surfaces such as gravel or soil.

The Vauxhall streets Lambeth has in mind are Bonnington Square, South Lambeth Road, Meadow Road, South Island Place, Claylands Road, Fentiman Road and Rita Road, although others will be considered.

The help on offer seems to stop short of actual money, although Lambeth stands to gain from the increase in on-road parking. On offer: help with planning how to depave, deliver a skip, technical advice, like what to replace the paving with, providing compost, and loan of some basic tools to help with the work.

There’s no mention of where else to keep the car, though.

Further details:

Theresa Greene
Partnership and Development Officer
Environmental Services and Highways (ESH)
Communities, Housing and Environment
London Borough of Lambeth
Phone: 020 7926 9796
Fax: 020 7926 0530
twitter: @envirolambeth


Vauxhall and the Thames tidal flood plain

‘We’ve now gone from being ruled by Barclays Bank to being controlled by Berkeley Homes’

St George Wharf Tower by Rafael Aleixo

St George Wharf Tower by Rafael AleixoIs Lambeth Council allowing property developers to fund the salaries of council planning officers who are put to work on fast-tracking a developer’s planning application?

If so, how many developers have bought their way into Lambeth planning? Who are they, what are the developments, and how often were the eventual applications successful?

If Lambeth does not allow developers to buy in, has the council allowed the practice in the past, and may it yet do so in the future?

It’s already happening in London, so these are good questions to put, not to Lambeth councillors but to the council’s Chief Executive, Derrick Anderson.

That’s because according to an unnamed planning officer from a London borough ‘suffering from a spate of towers’, council chief executives ‘will allow schemes to be pumped up as much as they can go before they get political push-back from councillors.’ The worst schemes happen where there is no political resistance at all.

‘Spate of towers’? ‘No political resistance at all’? Remind you of anywhere? Lambeth/Vauxhall Nine Elms and Battersea’s planning free-for-all figures widely in a spine-chilling Guardian article entitled The truth about property developers: how they are exploiting planning authorities and ruining our cities.

The author, Guardian design and architecture critic Oliver Wainwright, argues that property developers have taken over control of London from the banks. He quotes former chief planner of the City of London Peter Rees as saying, ‘Never trust a bank with property, or a property developer with money,’ and ‘We’ve [London] gone from being ruled by Barclays Bank to being controlled by Berkeley Homes.’

Developers, Wainwright argues, are like the banks before them, running riot. They’re botching not the financial system but London itself.

Developers find vast sums are available from the ‘dazzling wealth’ of Russian, and the Middle Eastern investors, and this foreign money is being spent on the ‘wilful destruction’ of the capital. Like the banks, developers too will come unstuck, but the mess they made of London will remain.

Developers get their way through a ‘Faustian pact’, a system ‘not far from legalised bribery’ by which councils get a rake-off under a negotiable levy on agreed developments under Section 106 of the Town & Country Planning Act. The bigger the scheme, the bigger the rake-off.

A whole new industry has now spring up advising developers on how to claw back councils’ S106 rake-off by subsequent negotiations, always secret, to add extra storeys and reduce ‘affordable housing’. That, we know, happens in Lambeth. Any planning officer who dares to argue is denounced as being ‘anti-growth’.

If they don’t get their way, the big developers sidestep the local authority and get the OK from a ‘growth’-mad minister or mayor. Which takes us back to Vauxhall where, argues Wainwright, the then deputy prime minister John Prescott personally approved a Berkeley Homes development, the Vauxhall Tower.

Prescott OK’d the Vauxhall Tower against his own planning inspector’s advice and warnings from ministerial advisers that ‘it could set a precedent for the indiscriminate scattering of very tall buildings across London’. And, it would seem, for the Lambeths of London to rubber-stamp this ‘scattering’ because if the council doesn’t, then the mayor or the minister of the day will, regardless of political affiliation.

Derrick Anderson to step down at end of year

Law and disorder in Vauxhall

Image credit: St George wharf tower © Rafael Aleixo

Vauxhall Nine Elms & Battersea, Helicopters and Air Turbulence: the high price of high-rise living already includes two deaths – could there be more to come?

helicopter crash vauxhall 2013

helicopter crash vauxhall 2013Well, there you have it. The Vauxhall Society has all along warned Lambeth councillor and planners that they have been asleep at the wheel in allowing so many skyscrapers to cluster at Vauxhall Cross end of Vauxhall Nine Elms & Battersea ‘Opportunity Area’. Now comes the report of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch into the 16 January 2013 helicopter crash at Vauxhall Cross when a helicopter clipped a crane at St George Tower, killing the pilot and a pedestrian in the rush-hour streets below but, this time, missing crowded trains and buses.

Guess what? The accident, it appears from the AAIB report, was built in from the moment John Prescott pushed through the construction of the St George Tower.

One lot of planners didn’t tell another lot of planners that there were skyscrapers going up at Vauxhall Nine Elms. These structures, together with high buildings on the other side of the Thames, whittled down the H4 two-lane ‘helicopter highway’ along the course of the river. Came a foggy morning like that in January last year and…
“Two-way traffic along helicopter route H4 is no longer possible in certain circumstances using current procedures following construction of the building at St George Wharf,’ AAIB concludes, adding ‘The building at St George Wharf was not included in the helicopter’s obstacle databases. There is no effective system in place to anticipate the potential effects of new obstacles on existing airspace arrangements when the obstacles are outside ‘safeguarded’ areas.”

Now of course even more and higher skyscrapers are sprouting yards away from the fatal tower. Nobody’s going to widen the Thames or do away with fog. But there is another accident hazard being built into Vauxhall Nine Elms and just waiting to happen: air turbulence. You get fog on rivers, as well in planners’ minds; on rivers, also you get wind, sudden gusts of. Air turbulence around a single building much lower than St George Tower has already killed in Leeds, as The Vauxhall Society has warned. That wind scooped up a lorry and then dropped it on the pavement, killing one pedestrian and gravely injuring another.

The helicopter crash report in full:.

BBC Reports:

Air turbulence; the case of the flying lorry:

Photo: ofnetsandthings used under a Creative Commons licence

Have your say on the new New Covent Garden Market

globe courgettes - photo by mermaid

globe courgettes - photo by mermaidWhether the proposals for the redevelopment of New Covent Garden Market make you want to hand bouquets to the developers or pelt them with rotten fruit, you have until 26 September to have your say. At least you’ll get a new retail market out of it.

2014/2810 – New Covent Garden Market, Nine Elms Lane, SW8

Planning application for part outline, part detailed planning permission for:

(a) Demolition of existing wholesale Fruit and Vegetable and Flower Market and ancillary buildings and structures, and residential building on Nine Elms Lane (apart from the existing multi storey car park);

(b) Construction of mixed-use redevelopment comprising: a new Fruit and Vegetable Market and Flower Market and ancillary uses, including temporary and permanent façade; refurbishment and extension of existing waste collection area (including rooftop sports pitches); residential dwellings; flexible commercial uses, including retail, financial and professional services, café/restaurant, bar uses and hot food takeaways and offices; non-residential institutions; assembly and leisure uses; temporary storage and distribution buildings and associated works; associated car, cycle and motorcycle parking and servicing and new vehicle accesses, energy centres; and landscaping public realm and open space including part of the Linear Park. All matters reserved apart from access, details of all new markets and supporting buildings, and details of Building N8 and associated landscaping);

(c) Site clearance and enabling works.

An Environmental Statement has been submitted with the application under The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2011.

The application documents can be viewed and comments can be left on the Wandsworth Council website by clicking on the following link:

If you wish to comment on this application you can email

Download the New Covent Garden Market consultation newsletter

Photo (cropped): Mermaid used under a Creative Commons licence

Law and disorder in Vauxhall

vauxhall at night by greg mccormick

vauxhall at night by greg mccormickAmmonia-throwing, ‘whippets’ of nitrous oxide inhalant circulating in Vauxhall’s night clubs and littering the streets, ‘pop-up parties’, ‘anti-social behaviour’, Vauxhall City Farm having to hire security staff, stabbings, Sainsburys’ shoppers robbed and threatened in daylight, a burgeoning Somali street gang, for two years a pest, caught on camera threatening people at knife-point. Staff in local businesses as well as customers and passers-by now feel unsafe in Vauxhall when two years ago they didn’t. Talk about floodlighting Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens.

All this and more is a documented part of the streetscape in and around Vauxhall Cross.

Business as Unusual
Vauxhall, or this part of it, has always been a rough old place. It’s easy to see how things might be made rougher still by the recently-arrived ‘night-time economy’ of night clubs and the huge crowds these businesses serve with alcohol until all hours, and the violent parasites the revellers and their money attract. Yet club- and publand does much, by its own actions and through its pressure group, Vauxhall One (VX1), identifying wrongdoers and pushing Lambeth Council and the Metropolitan Police to shape up and deal with this growing disorder.

Uninvolved, clueless
Both police and council officials seem uninvolved or clueless. They are charged with not turning up at meetings of the Licencing Partnership that can discipline clubs or pubs, for example, and with ignoring businesses when they identify persistent troublemakers. Another grouping, the Kennington, Oval and Vauxhall Forum (KOVF) as good as says Lambeth is lying in inferring yet refusing to confirm that the public can vote on an option to retain Vauxhall Bus Station. Without that confirmation, ‘consultation’ is a mockery.

Back to the bad old days
At the time of writing, Lambeth and Transport for London officials are declining to appear and explain themselves before a public meeting (on 25 September) of a KOVF, a community consultation body Lambeth itself set up. Lambeth and its partner, Transport for London, intend to tear down the bus station to make way for further property development. Demolition involves dispersing the bus station’s bus stops all around the Vauxhall Gyratory, making it that much easier passengers to be menaced by Vauxhall Cross’s riff-raff, which is what happened before Lambeth built the bus station only nine years ago. VX1 member-businesses individually can oppose demolition of the bus station, but VX1 itself can’t afford to. VX1 cannot function without the council’s say-so. KOV is also hobbled, because Lambeth set it up, and partly because its Board is terrified of being seen as ‘political’.

The Rotherham Effect
The trouble is that everything has become ‘political’ in Vauxhall. It grows more so every day. The May council elections confirmed Lambeth as an elective dictatorship. Winning 54.9% of the votes cast, Labour emerged with 59 of the 63 seats, the Tories with three and the Greens with one. The percentage of the electorate voting slumped from 58% to 34%. Labour now has a firmer grip on Vauxhall than it does on Rotherham, where both police and council have a lot of explaining, it wasn’t me-ing and pension-protecting to do. The point is not that the Labour Party is in charge of Lambeth or Rotherham, but that where any political party rules unchallenged for any length of time, the people suffer. Politicians wax even more overbearing and wasteful, officials sloppier and higher-handed. So too do the police. This is the disorder we’re now seeing in Vauxhall. Injustice flourishes.

One-party corporate statelet?
Lambeth is now a sort of one-party corporate statelet. Its policies with regard to Vauxhall are indistinguishable from that of Tory Wandsworth, or of the property companies bent on exploiting the Nine Elms–Vauxhall Cross development free-for all. Central Government now ‘encourages’ local authorities to rubber-stamp planning applications by paying Town Hall the proceeds of a tax on developers, the ‘Community Infrastructure Levy’. Nowhere is now more enthusiastic about pocketing CIL than Lambeth, even to the point of giving ground in subsequent secret negotiations in which developers claw back CIL by extracting reductions in the agreed level of ‘affordable housing’.

A cash-cow called Vauxhall
Vauxhall, epicentre of the property gold rush on the South Bank, is become a Lambeth cash-cow. Councillors spend the cash not in Vauxhall, but in their own wards or wherever else in Lambeth the party thinks fit. Vauxhall’s all-Labour councillors (in the Oval and Princes wards) meekly fall into line. Their rise through the party ranks is what it’s all about, not the electorate, much of which doesn’t vote anyway.

The London Borough of Lambeth, as it operates in Vauxhall, is now functionally corrupt, ‘corrupt’ in the sense that here the system of local government is breaking down, spoiled, debased. In Vauxhall there may be law but there is now disorder, and not all of it is on the street.

What Lambeth United Housing Co-op has to say:

Bang goes council scrutiny:

Kennington, Oval & Vauxhall Forum Public Meeting, 25 September:

Will yours be the 2000th signature on the Save Vauxhall Bus Station online petition? Sign here:

Join The Vauxhall Society on Facebook

Photo (cropped) by Greg McCormick used under a Creative Commons licence


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

new bondway

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

Block booking at Kennington hotel


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 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 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?