Vauxhall Bus Station: make mine a Worthington?

Vauxhall Bus Station art competition
Vauxhall Bus Station art competition

Vauxhall Bus Station, as seen by a young local resident

Oh, dear. Could someone have shot Lambeth Council and Transport for London’s fox? The Save Vauxhall Bus Station community campaign is brandishing a new plan for the redevelopment of the Vauxhall Cross one-way gyratory. Martin Worthington’s plan, campaigners say, would deliver the two-way traffic system the powers-that-be have set their hearts upon. But it would also be cheaper than the Lambeth/TfL proposals, not least because there’d be no reason to do away with Vauxhall Bus Station. Indeed the bus station could be extended to handle even more bus routes. The Worthington Plan would shift to South Lambeth Road the ‘town centre’ ludicrously planned by Lambeth/TfL to replace the ten-year-old bus station. The Save Vauxhall Bus Station campaigners also say the Worthington Plan would mean much less noise, mess and disruption during building work, and much more simplified junctions, better and safer routes for cyclists, as well as green and pedestrian space.

Martin Worthington tells The Vauxhall Society:

‘This plan is based on my thoughts alone and based on the lack of any significant movement between each version of the TfL proposals.  I was worried something would get implemented (and a lot of money spent) without it being perfect.

‘My personal interest is I work on Bondway, and use the bus station and cycle regularly through the Gyratory.  I have been a witness to one accident and many near misses, and want to help ensure changes are made before more people are killed.

‘I tried to meet the objectives set out by TfL and then add on the other issues raised, such as retaining the bus station centrally,  and loading  busses from a single central island.’

FURTHER READING

‘Oh do stop messing about’, transport writer Christian Wolmar tells Lambeth councillors: www.wolmarforlondon.co.uk

The Oval Gasometers: how straight a bat are Lambeth and Berkeley Homes playing?

aerial view of development area oval gasometers

What to make of the latest load of ‘consultation’ now plopping onto Vauxhall doormats? Lambeth Council and house-builders Berkeley Homes are in cahoots to ‘develop a masterplan’ to build on the Oval gasometer site, decommissioned last year. Part of the ‘masterplan’ is to designate the land as a ‘Development Area’, which could mean releasing Berkeley and Lambeth Council from the council’s own requirement that at least 40% of the homes should be ‘affordable’.

This ‘consultation’ is off to a bad start, with a letter inviting local cannon fodder to a ‘one day feedback exhibition’ on a Tuesday, when the accompanying leaflet speaks of a Thursday and a Saturday. This ‘consultation’ is to grind on for at least six months, but given the council and the developers are partners in the grandiosely-entitled ‘Oval and Kennington Development Area Masterplan’, just how much of a toss would you say they give for what the locals think? Consider South London Press reporter James Cracknell’s story (18 November) that neighbouring Wandsworth pushed through planning approval for the redevelopment of New Covent Garden Market despite receiving more than 1,000 formal objections and not one, not one, comment or letter in favour? As the newsletter of The Vauxhall Society associate member, The Fentiman Road Residents Association, remarks ‘If you suspect that LB Lambeth politicians are over-inclined to think that they know rather better than you what is good for Vauxhall, you might be thankful that you don’t live in Wandsworth’.

That South London Press story in full, courtesy of www.slp.co.uk:
new covent garden south london press story

That Oval and Kennington ‘masterplan’

Catch-up on responses to Vauxhall Cross development

Vauxhall Bus Station: has thumbs-down from South London Press readers sent Lambeth Council shopping for support?

vauxhall bus station south london press story

vauxhall bus station south london press storyEach week that passes strips more and more credibility from the Lambeth Council and Transport for London PR campaign to kid people that doing away with or otherwise messing up Vauxhall Bus Station is a popular idea, except with property-developers, i.e. Lambeth and TfL. The area’s oldest-established newspaper, the bi-weekly South London Press, asked readers (19 December) to write in and have their say on Lambeth/TfL’s plans, for or against. And guess what? Of the six letters printed, only one was in favour of tampering to suit Lambeth/TfL’s property-development dreams. It is not clear but seems doubtful whether the writer was either around before we got Vauxhall Bus Station ten years ago, or if he was, is unable to remember what a risky, toxic place Vauxhall Cross could be for bus passengers. If not, he should be careful what he asks for. Just read the other five letters, apparently from people who were around, and you’ll see what a mess we had until we got the bus station, and what a muck-up we’re heading back to if feeble on-message councillors allow Lambeth and TfL’s bean-counters to get their way with the rigged ‘consultation’ campaign that the SLP readers so deplore. Even Vauxhall’s Labour MP Kate Hoey hates what Council Leader Lib Peck is up to. Meanwhile, the Save Vauxhall Bus Station Campaign’s online petition now has over 1900 signatures and rising. Who’ll sign now and push it over the 2000-mark?

Lambeth Council is spending your money on the Campaign Company, ‘an independent research and engagement company’ to ‘carry out engagement work… around the significant changes taking place in the area’ and ‘help the Council understand what people think and to get them involved in helping to shape the area’. So far, this outfit has interviewed 400 residents door-to-door in Princes, Oval and Stockwell wards, and picked out 50 ‘stakeholders’ (business and ‘community representatives’). The interviews cover not just Vauxhall Cross and the Transport Hub, but people’s views on what’s best about the area, the ‘challenges’ faced locally, how we think development has been managed and what we think should happen in the immediate future.

The report is due end of February and will be available online, unless perhaps the replies/conclusions are insufficiently ‘engaging’. 450 is a fiddling little sample, but for what it is worth, Campaign Company say they’ll read any email you send and may even phone you. You may have thought helping a council understand what people think is what councillors are supposed to do. Could it be that in a one-party state like Lambeth, the ‘Cabinet’ has to buy in advice because it already knows what councillors think, having told them what to think?

Email Will Heywood: will@thecampaigncompany.co.uk, copying in david@thecampaigncompany.co.uk.


Save Vauxhall Bus Station online petition

The Vauxhall Society: ‘Carping, whining & consistently negative’?

Keybridge House

keybridge house (proposed)The Vauxhall Society is in the bad books of the design writer and architectural consultant Stephen Bayley who in 24pt HelveticaNeue-Ultralight, copied in to Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey, writes:

Hello.

I think I have said this before, but find myself wanting to say it again.

The consistently negative and carping tone of The Vauxhall Society does not, in my opinion, represent the views of all residents. It certainly misrepresents mine.

I find the unreflective bias against new developments disturbing. The more so when it runs against the spirit of entrepreneurialism and showmanship which created historic Vauxhall.

Certainly, there is a need for robust criticism of many of the new and proposed buildings, but how much more credible it would be were it expressed in terms of good-natured optimism. Instead, the voice of The Vauxhall Society confirms the sense of victimhood which for so long hobbled any useful progress in the area.

Instead of continuous complaining, I’d prefer to see The Vauxhall Society develop an intelligent critical language and independent vision which could be used in a properly meaningful dialogue with the various agents of change. But, of course, that’s much more difficult than whining.

Perhaps you would put this little note of dissent on the website.

Yours,

Stephen Bayley

TVS can’t and doesn’t claim ‘to represent the views of all [Vauxhall] residents’. We represent the views of TVS members, which we are able to do only by reference to our committee members. We comment upon very few proposed new buildings, ‘whiningly’ or otherwise, and then only with the consent of the full committee. Days before Stephen wrote to us, we welcomed the Vauxhall Square development.

At the time of writing, Stephen is a TVS member. We went to him for an opinion in March 2013 on BT’s plans to knock down and redevelop Keybridge House. Stephen’s reply?

It is only pathetic failures of nerve and imagination that prevent Keybridge House from being creatively re-used. Although in a style not currently fashionable, it is a quality design of real character. And will eventually be recognised as such. It’s not “monolithic”. On the contrary, the totality is interestingly complex with strong detail. What BT and the developers mean is that they can’t be bothered to think about (or to pay for) creative re-use.

The proposed scheme is an out-of-tune hymn to lowbrow mediocrity. It is typically heartless and banal and ill-proportioned. The tallest tower is ludicrously out-of-scale. “Creative re-use” contributes texture and depth and grain to cities.
And texture, depth, grain are what people enjoy.

Stephen is right in thinking he has complained about ‘whining’ before, but not to TVS. In February 2012, he wrote to the Fentiman Road and Richborne Terrace Residents’ Association, calling for development proposals to be met with ‘enthusiasm and optimism and ingenuity’, not ‘Canute-like’ with ‘reactionary bleating, whining and groaning’. He wondered whether ‘specially backward tribes greeted the missionaries’ gift of life-saving sanitation with similar bewilderment and reflex negativism’. Vauxhall, he argues ‘is at the centre of a global megalopolis. It’s not a holiday resort. They have shadows in Manhattan too. No-one there complains.’

Stephen might have added, but didn’t, that as well as shadows and skyscraper canyons there are also art galleries, theatres and concert halls in Manhattan. Where are Vauxhall’s? But let’s not whine.

‘Massive support’ for Vauxhall Bus Station versus Lambeth and TfL’s ‘arrogance’ and ‘dereliction of duty to the travelling public’

vauxhall bus station by andrea winkelsdorf

battersea society websiteThe PR machine of the publicly-funded London Borough of Lambeth and Transport for London is expensively manufacturing assurances that nobody, anywhere, at any time, does other than adore the plans to screw up Vauxhall Bus Station in order to make way for LBL/TfL’s property development dreams at Vauxhall Cross.

The trouble is, it’s all a lot of hooey. The assurances are not true, and here’s evidence that they’re not even true outside Lambeth, in Battersea for instance. The evidence comes from an objection to TfL by The Battersea Society, evidence that is the planning equivalent of a slap around the face with a wet kipper.

The Battersea Society sent its people to TFL’s ‘Open Days’ at Nine Elms this summer, and came back ‘very concerned with the underlying assumption that the bus station had to be replaced.’ The Battersea Society members were also irritated by the ‘poor presentation, paucity of justification for each option and general vagueness of details.’

There is ‘massive support for the current bus interchange arrangements which are intensively used by residents of South London and beyond,’ Battersea speaks of LBL/TfL’s ‘arrogance’, affirming that LBL/TfL’s ‘consultation’ is a phoney. ‘Vauxhall Bus Station’ Battersea points out, ‘is second only to Hammersmith’ in the number of travellers using a bus station as the interchange between underground, overground and bus travel.

‘It is a dereliction of [LBL/TfL’s] duty to the travelling public that TfL have so far confined their consultation to residents in the narrow area around the [Vauxhall] gyratory itself. While we represent Battersea residents, travellers from other boroughs have the right to be consulted.’

Read The Battersea Society’s planning submission

Tall storey: a flat ‘No’ to apartment blocks in Walnut Tree Walk conservation area?

The Vauxhall Society is to object to the proposed conversion of mews office space in the Walcot Conservation Area into taller, bigger and more obtrusive apartment buildings. Mura Estates’ proposal is to demolish 1990s offices and build a dozen flats in a small mews behind a Georgian terrace in Walnut Tree Walk. Residents say the proposed new buildings would overlook neighbours, block views and threaten protected mature trees. One proposed building would come within two feet of the China Walk children’s playground and overlook it with 20 windows. Access to the flats would be restricted to a narrow space under a house in Walnut Tree Walk, which, even if not obstructed, would be difficult for fire engines or ambulances to negotiate. There are no parking spaces and residents’ parking permits would not allowed, so there would be even more pressure on local parking at evenings and at weekends. Lambeth planners’ deadline for your comments upon the Walnut Tree Walk application has been extended from 11 December 2014 to 2 January 2015 after Lambeth rejected Mura’s description of the flats as two-and-half –storeys. Lambeth says they’re three.

Details of the application (14/05670/FUL), where to see it and how to have your say

Royal Vauxhall Tavern: No more private sales of a very public house

A community group, the Friends of Royal Vauxhall Tavern, supported by The Vauxhall Society, has been granted a Community Right to Bid if and when the historic pub’s new owners, an Austrian property group, decide to sell. The Friends of RVT are concerned at the secrecy that continues to surround the recent sale and the intentions of the new owner, Immovate, a specialist in converting historic buildings to office and residential use. The Community Right to Bid scheme, brought in only three years ago, does not guarantee a community group first refusal in the event of a sale, but once a property is registered, the group is notified of an intention to sell, and has six months in which to put together its own bid and then to compete on the open market. However, the sale of a business as a going concern is not covered, and the granting of a community right to bid has no direct effect on planning. Individuals cannot nominate land or buildings; the nomination has to come from a community organisation. Parish councils and neighbourhood forums qualify, as do community groups of at least 21 members, or not-for-private-profit organisations. It is unlikely the Friends of RVT will back off now there’s a Community Right to Bid, however, such is their concern at the apparent threat from RVT’s new property-developer owners to RVT’s continuing as a hub of community activity and events. Furthermore, local community groups who might have contributed money towards forthcoming RVT-led events may now reconsider further support.

Community Right to Buy (Lambeth Council website)

Questions RVT/Immovate won’t answer

Still time to have your say on Vauxhall Bus Station: Is it ‘Stay’ or is it ‘Go’?

vauxhall bus station campaign badge

i love vauxhall bus station badgeLambeth Council has agreed to extend to 2 January 2015 its public consultation on Lambeth and Transport for London’s plans to make the Vauxhall Gyratory (or roundabout) one- instead of two-way. Oh, and while Lambeth and TfL are at it, to demolish Vauxhall Bus Station to make away for the associated property development.

If you have not done so, do respond, whatever your point of view, and especially if your point of view is that you don’t know what Lambeth and TfL are on about. If that’s the case with you, the reason is likely to be that Lambeth and TfL have yet to provide any evidence for their assertion that a two-way gyratory works any better than the one-way they were all so hot about only a few short years ago.

Still less are you likely to have seen any Lambeth/TfL evidence that, however many ways the gyratory goes, a busy, popular bus station (and world-renowned piece of architecture) has to be junked, chopped up or otherwise messed about to make way for it. There can be only one reason. Money.

Could it be that one hapless functionary let the cat out of the bag when asked about an illustrated board at one exhibition of the Lambeth/TfL proposals? This board showed a 15-storey skyscraper plonked on the forecourt of the bus station where you go down the stairs to Vauxhall Tube. Asked what the building was, the functionary replied that it was a ‘new HQ for Transport for London’.

That skyscraper is not to be seen on later Lambeth/TfL picture-boards.

You may also want comment on the quality of the ‘consultation’ so far, described by Professor Sir Malcolm Green as ‘deceitful’. To have your say before 2 January, you can go to tfl.gov.uk/vauxhall-cross and fill in the online questionnaire, adding your own comments, or you can email consultations@tfl.gov.uk referencing Vauxhall in the title.

Here’s what community group, Supporters of Vauxhall Bus Station, are saying in reply to the ‘Transforming Vauxhall Cross ‘consultation:

We thank TfL for their willingness to meet users and discuss the plans, but feel that the questionnaire asks only questions leading to the desired [by TfL] answers. Nowhere is there an opportunity to vote for the retention of the bus station in its current form and location.

‘We understand why many are seeking the removal of the gyratory, and that some believe two-way traffic is preferable to one way. We support the objective of improving the interchange, and the goals of safer and better pedestrian access and cycle paths, less pollution and a visually more pleasant place.

‘Before plans are finalised TfL needs to publish evidence to show that they can reduce traffic speed and flow to create safer, less intimidating roads without returning to the pre-gyratory tailbacks on all surrounding roads.

‘All options for change should be measured against a ‘do nothing ‘option which includes improvements to the present lay-out. TfL must also publish its response to the alternative lay-out submitted by Michael Keane and the Kennington Oval & Vauxhall Forum.

‘TfL has not produced any convincing evidence that two-way working is only possible with the removal of the bus station. Much more work is needed on the re-positioning of the roadways within the transport hub. They must also publish all the proposed bus routes through the bus station, the position of stops, maintaining current choice of routes. It is essential that all the bus stops and entry to the tube and train stations remain under cover.

‘Bus passengers must be given the same priority as the tube and train passengers. The space for buses and passengers is not ‘overgenerous’, as Lambeth now claim. The proposal to reduce it by half at a time when bus passengers are set to increase in number is folly. Our contention is that the amount of commercial space in surrounding development easily exceeds the requirement for a District Centre, and there is therefore no need to sacrifice part of the bus station to create more.

‘Acknowledgement must be given to the particular importance of bus travel for the low paid, the disabled, night workers, the elderly and children, none of whom are mentioned in the consultation literature. We look forward to being consulted on the next iteration of the plans and are happy to attend meetings to explain our observations in more detail.’

The South London Press newspaper has taken up the question of TfL’s misleading ‘before and after’ photographs of Vauxhall Bus Station, and is now asking you to write in or email, explaining how the plans to do away with Vauxhall Bus Station will affect you.

Email letters@slp.co.uk

  • Supporters of Vauxhall Bus Station will be telling the South London Press how well the bus station works as it is
  • That TfL/Lambeth proposals threaten less space for people and buses at a time of rising passenger numbers
  • That the plans give no promise that all bus stops will remain under cover (as now), that no stops will at the roadside or that all routes to the same destination will halt at the same stop.

    Who needs a gyratory anyway? (South London Press story)

Vauxhall Square: A ‘town centre’ that won’t cost you a bus station?

vauxhall square drawing

vauxhall square drawingThe current ‘consultation’ by Transport for London and Lambeth Council on the ‘regeneration’ of the Vauxhall Cross gyratory harps on about the need to do away with Vauxhall Bus Station to make way variously for a ‘town centre’, ‘high street’, ‘centre for Vauxhall’ or some such other abstraction.

The thing is, TfL and Lambeth have left it a bit late. Their ‘town centre,’ ‘high street’ or ‘centre for Vauxhall’ has missed the bus. What is arguably any or all of these three, Vauxhall Square, is already being built next door. What’s more, Vauxhall Square will involve neither doing away with Vauxhall Bus Station nor, being privately-funded, will it cost taxpayers a penny, much less the present safe, spacious, well-roofed bus station. TfL/Lambeth know all this. Lambeth gave detailed planning permission for Vauxhall Square 16 months ago in July 2013.

Vauxhall Square, a project by locally-based developers CLS Holdings, will cover three acres. There will be a public square, and 3,000 sq metres of restaurant, cafes and shop space with dual frontages onto the square, Wandsworth Road, Parry Street and Miles Street, as well as a purpose-built homeless hostel, the inevitable hotels and offices plus ‘residential units’ (a fifth ‘affordable’). CLS says there’s room for ‘currently missing basic services’ such as a ‘High Street bank’ and Post Office, as well as for markets, winter ice skating and public sports events.

CLS start building Vauxhall Square early in the New Year, while Lambeth and TfL’s PR people are oiling away with a consultation that Sir Malcolm Green calls ‘seriously biased’.

USEFUL LINKS

Vauxhall Square

Save Vauxhall Bus Station petition at change.org

The TfL/Lambeth consultation
vauxhall square plans

Lambeth and TfL’s consultation on Vauxhall Bus Station demolition ‘seriously biased’ and ‘particularly deceitful’

vauxhall bus station tfl proposals

vauxhall bus station tfl proposalsHere’s one in the eye for Lambeth Council and Transport for London, who repeatedly claim that Vauxhall Bus Station will have to go if there is to be a two-way gyratory, and that people love the idea.

The eminent medical scientist Sir Malcolm Green, chairman of Vauxhall’s Lansdowne Residents Association, has written an open letter to Lambeth Deputy Leader, Cllr Imogen Walker, terming the current Lambeth/TfL consultation on the bus station ‘seriously biased’. Images in the current consultation brochure are ‘particularly deceitful’.

Imogen Walker, Lambeth’s policy chief, perhaps strains credibility when she describes Sir Malcolm’s letter as ‘a very helpful summary’.

Sir Malcolm wrote to Cllr Walker:

‘I enclose a summary of the Lansdowne Residents views on the bus station following the meeting last Sunday. I hope Lambeth will put pressure on TfL to come clean as to why the plans for two-way working mean that the bus station has to be demolished. There is no evidence from the plans, documents or discussions that demolition is necessary, although this is repeatedly asserted.

The picture on the front of the consultation brochure shows the “weather cover” to be no more than the cover over a single traditional bus stop. Nowhere are the features of the proposed new bus station shown, even in outline.

The consultation process is seriously biased towards answering the questions in favour of TfL’s plans. The picture in the brochure showing the present tube entrance on a grey day in the rain, compared with the future on a beautiful sunny day with no traffic, is particularly deceitful.’

How on earth Cllr Walker can term Sir Malcolm’s intervention as ‘helpful’, heaven alone knows. As for Lambeth’s ‘putting pressure on TfL to come clean’, well, that’ll be the day.

The Save Lambeth Bus Station online petition, now has with over 1,900 signatures and rising

The petition at change.org