KOVF calls in Kate Hoey MP amid suspicion that TfLl/Lambeth are rigging Vauxhall Gyratory/Vauxhall Bus Station ‘consultation’

kate hoey mp at vauxhall bus station

kate hoey mp at vauxhall bus stationIf you have strong views on the Vauxhall Gyratory or the impending demolition of Vauxhall Bus Station, or want to know more, get along to a public meeting on Tuesday 9 December.

The meeting is to discuss if or how Vauxhall people want the traffic gyratory changed at Vauxhall Bridge, and the Kennington Oval and Vauxhall Forum (of community associations) has called it in the face of widespread public disquiet that TfL and Lambeth Council are rigging the current ‘consultation’.

There’s also a lot going on behind the scenes at KOVF, whose board is wavering as vast public resources are poured into spinning the current ‘consultation’ Transport for London (TfL) and Lambeth Council’s way.

TfL/Lambeth want a two-way instead of a one-way gyratory and say that Vauxhall Bus Station must go to make way for the associated property development TfL/Lambeth seek. The TfL/Lambeth ‘consultation’ at every stage claims that Vauxhall people agree.

Until the recent KOVF elections, the KOVF board preferred a central covered bus station to remain. Now the new board’s wobbling. Some members are wavering, flattered by the attentions of TfL and Lambeth. Other, new, members represent local business and political interests and are out-and-out opponents of the bus station. One such is former Labour councillor and PR man Mark Harrison.

KOVF Chairwoman Helen Monger has invited Vauxhall Labour MP Kate Hoey to chair the meeting because the gyratory/bus station issue affects the whole constituency and beyond. Mark Harrison opposes the invitation, Lambeth Labour Party seeing their MP as straying from the party line on this issue.

The Vauxhall Society (TVS) is unconvinced on the one- or two-way gyratory question, local opinion being divided and TfL having yet to produce any evidence that two-way working will be any better than one. TVS supports the Save Vauxhall Bus Station community campaign, whose online petition is at change.org

Kate Hoey MP and Vauxhall Bus Station:
http://www.katehoey.com/kates-corner/articles/news.aspx?p=106120

The public meeting is on Tuesday 9 December at the Carmelita Centre, 41 Vauxhall Walk, London SE11 5JT. Registration is from 6.30 pm for a 7pm start. Between 10am and 6pm, same day, same place, there is an exhibition of TfL and Lambeth’s proposals.

Skyscraper scramble: meet the One Nine Elms ‘neighbours’

One Nine Elms

What do the words ‘neighbourhood meeting’ mean to you?

In Vauxhall these days, ‘neighbourhood meeting’ can mean a gathering organised by a smarmy public relations company in the pay of a Chinese property developer, Dalian Wanda, builder of Vauxhall/Nine Elms’ tallest skyscraper yet, One Nine Elms.
This ‘neighbourhood meeting’ is on Tuesday 9 December. Do go along and ask the smooth-talking PR people how thorough their client has been in establishing the risk of wind turbulence and of another aircraft crash on this very spot.

‘Dear neighbour’ the public invitation begins:

We would like to invite you to the next One Nine Elms Neighbourhood meeting which is taking place on Tuesday 9th December 2014 at 6:30pm at Brunswick House. The meeting will be a chance to discuss the works that will be taking place throughout December and in 2015 and get a summary of the works that have taken place over 2014. Members of the development team will be on hand to answer any questions you have.

If you would like to attend the meeting on Tuesday 9th December please register by emailing onenineelms@cascadepr.co.uk or calling 020 7871 3565.

Please find attached a copy of the minutes from the last One Nine Elms meeting which took place on 22nd September and the agenda for the next meeting in December.

We look forward to seeing you on Tuesday 9th December.

Kind regards

Chris Rumsey
On behalf of Dalian Wanda

Download the minutes of the meeting

‘£1 billion’’ Northern Line Extension railroaded through, and new crop of homes for the rich to be sold at New Covent Garden Market

Northen-Line-extension

Two vast foregone conclusions have just been concluded. Wandsworth Council has given planning permission for the redevelopment of New Covent Garden Market on the Vauxhall-Wandsworth boundary, while to please the developers the Department of Transport has given London Underground permission to start digging up Vauxhall to drive a Northern Line Tube Extension (NLE) from Kennington into Wandsworth.

The uncosted, publicly-backed NLE project will, with the agreement and financial backing of Lambeth, bring two new Tube stations. One will be at the redevelopment of Sainsbury’s a few minutes’ walk from Vauxhall Tube Station and the other at Battersea Power Station, a few paces away from two existing overground stations.

The New Covent Garden redevelopment is a partnership between a public authority, New Covent Garden Market Authority, and two private developers, St Modwen Properties and Vinci PLC. Vinci St Modwen’s press release trumpets that the diggers go in during the first half of 2015 and ‘approximately 3,000 new homes’ will be built. Vinci St Modwen, it is clear, does not build old homes. Nor does Vinci St Modwen deign to say what percentage, if any, of these homes will be ‘affordable’. The fruit, flower and vegetable market remains at Nine Elms on one 37-acre site, 20 acres of other ‘surplus’ land being given over to redevelopment of one sort or another.

The NLE project is officially ‘costed’ at £1 billion, and if you believe that figure you will believe anything. Parliamentary approval was required and a Transport and Works Act Order was nodded through to give London Underground the powers it needs to build the 3.2km extension of the Tube. The full cost of the extension is ‘expected’ to be ‘up to £1 billion’, part-funded by developers held to benefit from the new Tube stations, although not all are keen. But relax, if things don’t turn out as ‘expected’, the Treasury – i.e. you – will be expected to make up the difference.

NEWS JUST IN
New Covent Garden Market tells The Vauxhall Society that the developers offered 15% affordable housing, the standard level for the Nine Elms Opportunity Area, but Wandsworth stuck out for and got 20%. Lambeth – please note.

New Covent Garden: www.newcoventgardenmarket.com

What ‘affordable homes’ does and does not mean
http://www.theguardian.com/housing-network/2014/feb/03/affordable-housing-meaning-rent-social-housing

Where’s Vauxhall Bus Station gone?

kylun site vauxhall towers

Who runs Vauxhall, the politicians or the property industry? Or are both just parts of the same business? You have to ask yourself, when you see in the property press proposals for grassing over Vauxhall Bus Station to make a nice front garden for two new skyscrapers that, by the way, could become four and, it is confidently asserted, could be built higher and wider and with far less affordable housing than previously agreed behind closed doors with Lambeth Council.

Lambeth gave permission for two skyscrapers to be built on what was known as the Kylun site, that strip of land between the Bus Station and Lambeth Planning’s offices at St George Wharf. This site was then sold on, and the estate agents Knight Frank are now marketing it for the new owners, Wendover Investments as ‘Vauxhall Cross’ (the name of the whole area). Guide price? £65 million.

From the industry report on Skyscrapernews, Wendover indeed would seem to be bent on covering much of Vauxhall Cross itself with the two-to-four Vauxhall Cross skyscrapers that is suggested might be crammed in somehow.

‘Already approved,’ says Skyscrapernews ‘are the Squire-designed 140 metres and 115 metre tall towers with 291 apartments, a 180 bedroom hotel, plus some office and retail space. PLP Architecture, as part of the sale of the scheme, has drawn up alternative proposals for the site that feature the towers getting a substantial uplift to 140 metres and 170 metres with the taller building to the north. The logic of this is that although the maximum height that would be permitted on this site is 150 metres, the Statutory Development Plan that sets this limit out has been exceeded by four towers nearby. One advantage to stretching the project to the PLP design is that the amount of affordable housing falls to 13.3% of gross net floor space from 16.8%.’

Affordable housing here is supposed to be 20%, itself only half of Lambeth’s declared target, but under the pretext of ‘commercial confidentiality’, councils and developers can do secret trade-offs on affordable housing.

‘Taking the height boost even further,’ skyscrapernews continues, PLP also suggest that a tower as tall as 200 metres with a second much shorter tower to its south could also be feasible although this would radically change the view of the emerging Vauxhall cluster when viewed from Millbank Gardens.

Skyscrapernews:
http://www.skyscrapernews.com/news.php?ref=3485

Knight Frank sales brochure

‘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

‘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.

MORE ON DERRICK ANDERSON
Derrick Anderson to step down at end of year

RELATED POSTS
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:.
http://www.aaib.gov.uk/publications/formal_reports/3_2014_g_crst.cfm

BBC Reports:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-29112941
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-29135940

Air turbulence; the case of the flying lorry:
http://www.vauxhallcivicsociety.org.uk/?s=air+turbulence

Photo: ofnetsandthings 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:
www.lambethunitedhousingco-op.org.uk

Bang goes council scrutiny:
http://insidelambeth1.wordpress.com

Kennington, Oval & Vauxhall Forum Public Meeting, 25 September:
http://media.wix.com/ugd/16e5aa_21b65196c40549c9b59c1b0164bfc86d.pdf

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

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

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

battersea society logo

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

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

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

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


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

5 August 2014

Dear Mr Williams

Vauxhall Gyratory and bus station

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

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

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

Retention of Current Bus Interchange

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

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

Lack of Wider Consultation

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

The Significant role of the bus station

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours sincerely

Liz Walton, Chair, Planning Committee

The Battersea Society

cc Michelle Dix, Managing Director, Planning