A meeting of Vauxhall minds: Thursday 19 March, 6.30pm

air monitoring equipment in dieppe and vauxhall
air monitoring equipment in dieppe and vauxhall

At Dieppe they have a roadside air pollution monitor bearing a legible informative notice, giving you a website address where you can find out how good or bad the breathing is. Compare it with the http://lichvaalstereo.co.za/canadian-pharmacy uninformative monitor on the Kylun Island at Vauxhall Cross.

Like to know more about what goes on around here, meet some more people, hear what they think about what’s happening and have your say too?

A good way to do all that is to turn up at the next regular public meeting, on Thursday 18 March, of the Kennington, Oval & Vauxhall Forum (of community groups). It’s at the Carmelita Centre, 40 Vauxhall Walk, SE11 5JT.

This promises to be a particularly lively evening as the next month is a hectic one. Kick-off is at 6.30pm, with half an hour’s chat time over refreshments (free) before the heavy stuff starts.

The agenda includes a Lambeth Councillor and an official outlining ‘Culture 2020’, which involves the closing of half of Lambeth’s Libraries. Councillor and official are likely to be asked when Lambeth Council will comply with an Information Commissioner ruling to come clean about the council’s property deals with Transport for London over the use of land in Kennington Park and Kennington Green.

At the KOVF public meeting, the Committee will report on, among other things, the Cycle Highway and Thames footbridge, as well as the way ahead for Vauxhall Bus Station/ the Vauxhall Gyratory.

Lambeth, it is suggested, can come out as the good guys on the bus station and gyratory, by protecting voters from the pollution and disruption threatened by Transport for London’s property-development ambitions. TfL wish to replace the one-way gyratory with a slower, two-way system, around which HGVs and other heavy traffic will still thunder.

An alternative community plan by residents will be discussed at KOVF on Thursday suggests that Lambeth removes HGV traffic from South Lambeth Road, so reducing pollution, some of the worst in London.

By leaving the bus station as it is, Lambeth would save millions in costs, and avoid the long disruption and relocation of services for residents and http://rachelsagermosaics.com/online-pharmacies workers. TfL wants to ‘rebuild’ the bus station only to add commercial space. There is no transport gain to passengers. There are more and more of them, and they would be crammed into even less space.

KOVF

Lambeth Local History Forum is having an emergency meeting on 20 March on the future of Lambeth Archives, currently housed in one the libraries up for sale, the Minet in Stockwell.

Lambeth Local History Forum

2,000 signatures say ‘don’t mess with Vauxhall Bus Station’

vauxhall bus station campaign badge

vauxhall bus station campaign badgeThe Save Vauxhall Bus Station Campaign petition has topped the http://musicandmemory.org/cheap-levitra-india 2,000-signature mark, and still more people are adding their names. It is now impossible for Lambeth Council and its property-development partner Transport for London (TfL), to continue claiming public support for the outright demolition of Vauxhall Bus Station as part of their plan to make the Vauxhall gyratory two- rather than one way. If published before 19 March these proposals will be aired at a public meeting on that date of the Kennington, Oval & Vauxhall Forum. KOVF has presented Lambeth/TfL with alternative gyratory proposals, and awaits a reply. The Save Vauxhall Bus Station online petition is hosted by The Vauxhall Society, a campaign supporter, with the support of community groups KOVF, the Vauxhall Gardens Estate Residents Association, the Battersea Society and many other groups in London and beyond. Vauxhall’s Labour MP Kate Hoey is a supporter, as are the local Tory and Lib Dem parties, but not Kate Hoey’s own party, Labour, the majority party on Lambeth Council.

Lambeth and TfL want to demolish the station to make way for shops and http://bhavayogastudio.com/cialis-sales-online a TfL tower block, even though private enterprise is already building a whole new pedestrian shopping centre, Vauxhall Square, next door to the Bus Station. Vauxhall Square does not involve interfering with the ten-year-old Bus Station. Lambeth and TfL’s first choice is to demolish the Bus Station, take the profits and revert to the good old days. That was when bus stops were scattered around the recommended site gyratory. Bus passengers (‘customers’ in the only language Lambeth and TfL seem to understand these days, would once more stand isolated in the open at ill-lit toxic roadsides, in danger from traffic and assault by the district’s undesirables.

The thing is, there are more buses, more ‘customers’, more traffic and heavier pollution as well as – thanks to the new ‘night-time economy’, more robbery and violence. Thanks in great part to the 2,000 signatures-plus on the Save Vauxhall Bus Station online petition, Lambeth and TfL have parked the bulldozers for now, and talk not of bulldozing Vauxhall Bus Station, but of ‘improving’ it. Whether that just means bulldozers by the back door, and whether or not this ‘new, improved’ Vauxhall Bus Station is any better than what’s there already, we shall soon see. Meanwhile, now’s the time to increase the pressure by getting yet more signatures. These will say to the powers-that-be ‘Lambeth and TfL, we’re watching you. That’s because separately and together, you have an appalling record on consultation.’

KOV Vauxhall Gyratory, Bus Station Proposals, and latest examples of TfL/Lambeth’s shoddy consultation standards:

‘Why the community is right not to trust does Lambeth/TfL on Vauxhall Bus Station’ – MP:

‘Say something nice about Lambeth Council for a change’

proposed brixton hoarding

proposed brixton hoardingThat’s the challenge from a Vauxhall Society member, who says it’s ‘boring’ to read repeated criticisms of Lambeth’s property-development ambitions.

The short answer is ‘Boring to read? Try writing the stuff’.

The Vauxhall Society objects to few development proposals, perhaps less than one in 20, and even then it’s often at the behest of a TVS community-association member.

The problem is that Lambeth Council sees Vauxhall as a cash cow and will push through any planning horror hereabouts in order to splash out on more populous parts of the borough where the fertilityroad.com votes are.

A challenge, however, is a challenge.

Here’s a nice thing to say about Lambeth Council: they have just rejected an application to erect a vast Piccadilly Circus-style LED hoarding which would have masked a listed building in Brixton town centre, opposite the Ritzy Cinema.

Our local friends, The Brixton Society, successfully objected that the row of digital billboards would be an ‘absurd intrusion’ and bad for business.

That’s the kind of planning rejection TVS members would love to see more of in anything-goes Vauxhall.

Mind you, those shops in the Brixton Arches are still under threat…

The Brixton Society objection to LED hoarding

LED hoarding rejected

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 bana-uk.com 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 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 the Sainsbury property development at the Vauxhall end of the Wandsworth Road in Wandsworth.

See the full ICO ruling on the KOVF website

Judge Sycamore and the Friends of Durning Library’s hellish Tree of Heaven 

tree of heaven durning library
tree of heaven durning library

Photo from Tradescant Road and pfizer cialis cheap South Lambeth blog. Copyright unknown.

There hasn’t been such a to-do about trees around here since the cialis uk national press caught on to the Friends of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens support of Lambeth Council’s chopping down  of mulberry trees on the historic  site to make way for £300,000-worth of black concrete columns. The tangled tale of the Friends of Durning Library and their logjam over a Tree of Heaven has nothing to do with such vandalism. As with all that black concrete, however it has everything to do with Lambeth’s wastefulness. 

Now it’s probably fair to say that to a man and woman, the Friends of Durning Library are also friends of trees, usually, that is. But not of the species Tree of Heaven, or at least the one that Lambeth Council says ‘is located in the grounds of Durning Library’.  That’s putting it mildly, for this particular Ailanthus altissima (a fast growing breed) is ‘located’ around, beneath and above the English Heritage-listed Victorian library building itself. ‘Woodperson, don’t spare that tree!’might sum up the Durning Friends’ position. The Durning tree already projects well above the rear of the building. Roots and suckers, already strongly established beneath and beyond the structure, are reaching for adjoining properties. To hear the Friends of Durning Library talk, their infernal Tree of Heaven could soon be coming up through the library floor.

Lambeth councillors might from time to time wish that Trees of Heaven would throttle all the academychild.com borough’s public libraries, so saving the council money and even more bad Press. For all that, there’s an expensive council consultation under way, ending Monday 23 February. This Tree of Heaven should be sent to meet its maker forthwith, the Friends of the Durning say. A Chinese immigrant, Ailanthus altissima has yet to make it onto the banned invasive species list, the garden-centre industry being no less vigorous in defence of this fast-grower than the Tree of Heaven is in self-defence.

Lambeth Council is terrified that its insurers will no longer cover the Durning if the tree stays. There is already ‘trespass’ of branches and roots onto neighbouring properties and karimnoureldin.net if someone’s badly hurt, Lambeth’s consultants say, the personal liability could go all the way up the Lambeth Council tree to the new Chief Executive, Sean Harriss. If the council’s lawyers are good enough, the claims might not also cite Harriss’s predecessor Derrick Anderson, who left at the end of 2014, or  the Council Leader, currently Lib Peck.

The question of lop-or-leave has been in out of court for two years and may soon be back there. When Lambeth decided to lop in 2012, it did so without doing its homework. There was protest from a local resident or residents, one of whom is reputed to have said that the tree does a valuable good job in blotting out the view towards nearby council homes.

In 2013, the opposition secured an injunction giving tree a stay of execution, followed by permission to put the council’s decision to judicial review. In June last year, the exquisitely-named Judge Phillip Sycamore quashed the cheapest prices on viagra council’s decision because it failed to take account of the tree’s being in a Conservation Area. On the other hand, the Durning tree ‘belongs’ to Lambeth Council (as does the library), and is not subject to a Tree Preservation Order.  Lambeth might be free to reach for the chainsaw if the council can show that the current consultation does cover the Conservation issues, and that the Tree of Heaven is doing more harm than good to the Kennington Conservation Area. That’s assuming there’s no fresh legal challenge to the tree’s removal. Meanwhile, around the Durning Library ‘a number’ of other Trees of Heaven are now reaching for the celestial sky.

Had Lambeth Council done its homework before having a go at this Tree of Heaven, it could have saved many thousands of pounds of public money. But at least the lawyers are happy.

‘Tree of Hell threatens native plants’: www.independent.co.uk

Official report: www.lambeth.gov.uk

The stay of execution:

www.standard.co.uk/news/london/judge-sycamore-saves-80yearold-tree-of-heaven-from-lambeth-council-giving-it-the-chop-9545369.html

Friends of Durning Library: www.durninglibraryfriends.org.uk

The Blob: Now it blobs up in Oval and Kennington

aerial view of development area oval gasometers

aerial view of development area oval gasometersYour well-known local property developer Lambeth Council is this August to ask itself for the go-ahead to redevelop the lucrative gasometer site next to the Kia Oval.

This Lambeth will do in cahoots with a private developer, Berkeley, that via deals with the likes of Lambeth, leapfrogs the normal planning system. Berkeley assumes some of the role of a public body such as its partner Lambeth in the acceptance or rejection of applications for planning permission from the likes of itself, ‘itself’ being Berkeley. Or maybe Lambeth. Or maybe both. Call it Lamberkeley?

The chums have declared this plum development opportunity to be the ‘Oval and Kennington Development Area’. In a ‘Development Area’ whatever Lamberkeley wants to do it can and will.

Lamberkeley has engaged forty shillings, a PR firm that claims to be ‘opinion movers and opinion shakers’. This mover and shaker firm enables its clients to ‘take the essence of grassroots campaigning to build and execute bespoke campaigns that shift the agenda and awt.edu.au get you results’.

The Oval and Kennington Development Area agenda is to be shifted between now and August when a ‘masterplan’ will go to Lambeth Council for ‘review’. Agenda-shifting kicks off with a six-week ‘public consultation’ in May-June.

Essential to ‘the masterplan process’ is ‘local input’. This ‘input’ will be put in via a ‘public feedback exhibition’ at the Kia Oval on Tuesday 24 February between 4pm and 8pm.

Lamberkeley have yet to say what they’re going to do to the gasometer site, but will give some idea at the exhibition, where Lamberkeley functionaries will be on hand to dodge such questions as ‘How is The Oval The Oval without a  gasometer?’ or  ‘Since Lamberkeley is judge and jury, what chance has “the public” got of making any changes Lamberkeley does not want?’.

What is ‘The Blob’?

Oval gasometers to go? (The Telegraph)

Oval and Kennington Development Area Masterplan exhibition material (from Wednesday 25 February)

The Blob: first it came for Vauxhall Bus Station, then it came for Vauxhall

the blob science fiction film 1958

the blob science fiction film 1958Well, dear resident of ‘Vauxhall’ did you know you no longer live in Vauxhall,?  Whatever you may think, you now apparently live in ‘Nine Elms on the South Bank’. Where? Never heard of it before? Well, according to ‘The Blob’, NESB ‘covers an area from the Albert Embankment at Lambeth Palace in the London Borough of Lambeth to Queenstown Road in the London Borough of Wandsworth’.

And ‘The Blob’?

Like ‘NESB’, ‘The Blob’ is another made-up word, this one borrowed from the 1958 and 1988 science-fiction films of that name. Back then, The Blob meant ‘an alien life-form, without soul or vertebrae, that consumes everything in its path as it grows and grows.’ Around here, it still does and as we see it in Vauxhall is presently composed of a faceless mass of local government functionaries and PR persons. Supercharged with money, public and wow)) private, and freed from local consent or regulation (such as a requirement that 40% of new homes should not be for the rich), The Blob slithers on and on.

Thus, you go to sleep in Vauxhall and wake up in NESB. Who says so? The Blob. Where did the Blob come from? Not from outer space, it seems, but from the office of the present and preceding Mayors of London, one Labour, one Tory, both of whom Think Big. So big that the thought became the buy viagra next day delivery deed, or at least The Blob. Around here, it began as ‘VNEB’ (for Vauxhall Nine Elms and Battersea). To this was tacked on ‘Opportunity Area’, so launching in the Middle and Far East a property gold rush along the Vauxhall bank of the Thames .

Blobbing along the riverbank little can grow in its wake except tall glass. It’s trying to do away with Vauxhall Bus Sation. Now The Blob apparently has engulfed and done away with ‘Vauxhall’ itself, a name dating back to the early 13th century. Vauxhall wasn’t consulted about being abolished in The Blob’s eyes, and there’s still a bit of Blob called the Nine Elms Vauxhall Partnership, but for how long the ‘Vauxhall’ bit will last, who can say? For box-ticking reasons, The Blob – through Richard Buckle, Head of Urban Design at the Mayor’s Transport for London – now seeks your thoughts on a ‘Public Realm Design Guide’. That’s the odd inch of green stuff between the swathes of ‘private realm’ or ‘all those absentee-owner flats and bana-uk.com Chinese-owned hotels’.

Consultation (until 16 February):

https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/policy/nesb-public-realm

What did The Blob ever do for you?

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/feb/14/battersea-nine-elms-property-development-housing

Save Vauxhall Bus Station online petition:

Sign the online petition

Read about the Save Vauxhall Bus Station campaign

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 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 only now 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?

FURTHER READING

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

Kate Hoey: ‘You will now understand why the local community have been so clear that they did not trust TFL or Lambeth over the Vauxhall bus station plans. The community are usually proved right’

Vauxhall Bridgefoot TFL plans

Vauxhall Bridgefoot TFL plansWell, there you have it.

It’s as The Vauxhall Society has argued all along.

Transport for London is a property developer on the grand scale. Lambeth Council is TfL’s partner in Vauxhall, where travellers, buses and bus stations keep getting in the way.

And all the endless TfL/Lambeth ‘consultation/regeneration’ palaver about making the Vauxhall Gyratory two- rather than one-way? About the ‘need’ for doing away with Vauxhall Bus Station?

It’s all just that, palaver (OED: ‘talk intended to wheedle’). And wheedle? (‘to do a person out of thing by such action’). A smokescreen for property development.

TfL’s boss, Mayor Boris Johnson has announced that TfL is to become London’s largest commercial property developer.

No longer will TfL automatically sell ‘unwanted’ properties from its vast estate. Many will be retained to develop through commercial partnerships. Among the first of these ‘partnerships’? Why, Vauxhall Bus Station, of course.

Graeme Craig, TfL’s commercial development director, tells Property Week that his eye is on ‘development opportunities’ that include Vauxhall Bus Station, Kidbrooke Railway Station and Morden town centre.

In TfL’s book, one reason Vauxhall Bus Station has to go or be radically trimmed is to make way for shops. But The Vauxhall Society in the past has drawn attention to loose talk from a TFL employee about plans for a TfL skyscraper HQ on the bus station site.

If true, that would release for development another TfL site or sites in central London, or make TfL a big office landlord. The TfL announcement has prompted one man, Harvey Pettit, to investigate ‘rumours that TfL plans to build an HQ at the [Vauxhall] bridgefoot’.

Mr Pettit says that after looking closely at TfL drawings at a KOVF public meeting in December it became clear to him ‘that the reason for truncating the bus station was to release a tract of land at the bridgefoot’.

Mr Pettit backs up his contention with a TfL drawing of an oval space at the bridgefoot, adding ‘Curiously, the key does not indicate what this oval is meant to be!’.

He asks: ‘Do I detect [TfL] obfuscation as early as 2013?’ One of a number of TfL drawings he has annotated is one from January 2013. This reveals the ‘much reduced’ area to be occupied by the bus station if TfL and its partner, Lambeth Council, get their way.

The ground lopped off from the bus station, according to TfL, is being ‘released’ to make ‘a new public space and an opportunity for development’.

Observes Mr Pettit, ‘And so it seems that our bus station was planned as a sacrificial lamb all along’. He gives the last word to an artist, and rounds off his picture show with Evelyn de Morgan’s ‘The Worship of Mammon’.

The news that TfL has fessed up to playing the property game (‘to help bear down on fares’) has led Vauxhall Labour MP Kate Hoey to fire off a fizzer of an open letter to Val Shawcross, Labour’s transport spokesperson at the Greater London Assembly. It reads:

Dear Val
I presume that you will now understand why the local community have been so clear that they did not trust TFL or Lambeth over the Vauxhall bus station plans. The community are usually proved right. I take it you will be out defending the bus users and all who love the station rather than supporting a half sized bus station and a greatly reduced service for bus users who live and work and pass through Vauxhall.
Best wishes Kate

To which a clearly rattled Val Shawcross replied:

Dear Kate
I didn’t expect to see this – I had no warning from them at all. We will get all the details of what they are planning here, but my guess is that it is part of their programme to intensify their revenue income from stations by developing shops and cafés inside station facilities.
Val

Valerie Shawcross AM
LONDON Assembly Member
Lambeth & Southwark
City Hall
The Queen’s Walk
London SE1 2AA
020 7983 4371
www.london.gov.uk


FURTHER READING
That Transport for London announcement

Sign the petition to retain the Bus Station