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

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

Nine-Elms-Vauxhall-Partnership-Open-Days-1

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

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

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

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

Nine Elms Vauxhall Partnership Open Day:

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

Bolney Meadow Community Centre

31 Bolney Street

London SW8 1EZ

One Nine Elms: the Wandsworth deal that made Boris Johnson happy for the highest skyscrapers yet to ‘browbeat, shade, congest and wind-tunnel’ Vauxhall

Market Towers, Vauxhall

Market Towers, Vauxhall

The Mayor of London (Boris Johnson), Wandsworth Council and the Chinese developer Dalian Wanda have done a luxury hotel property deal at Vauxhall Nine Elms that delivers less than half the promised 900-plus jobs, the BBC reports. The loss of jobs led to Lambeth’s objecting to Dalian Wanda’s plans to redevelop Market Towers on the Wandsworth/Lambeth border as the district’s highest skyscraper cluster yet, One Nine Elms.

The Vauxhall Society described Vauxhall One, yards away from the Wandsworth-Vauxhall border as a’660-ft brute, taller than the London Eye, The Gherkin and the BT Tower, two towers of 43 and 58 storeys’ that will ‘browbeat, shade, congest and wind-tunnel’ Vauxhall Cross. Boris Johnson overrode objections when Dalian Wanda agreed to contribute towards some of his favourite schemes, both locally and elsewhere in London – £14 million on the cost of the Northern Line Tube Extension, £4 million towards Crossrail (in North London)and £6.8 million towards affordable homes (‘elsewhere’).

Totally and absolutely coincidentally, perhaps, BBC London News Political Editor Tim Donovan ran the story on Wednesday 21 May, the day Dalian Wanda held open house at Market Towers, to report progress at a ‘demolition and construction liaison meeting’ at the site whose hazards include a ‘hidden Victorian foul sewer’ and, who knows, perhaps another stray helicopter? Demolition is likely to be succeeded by construction in January 2015 and ‘is expected to be completed in 2018.’ Dalian is delivering fewer jobs, office space will be cut back in favour of luxury flats marketed to wealthy Asian buyers. Polly Freeman of TVS affiliate The Friend of Vauxhall Park told the BBC,‘The jobs will not be luxury will they? They will be cleaners, janitors and security staff, not the quality careers we were promised.’

Related stories

One Nine Elms

Tall tales: the Vauxhall skyscraper tally so far

Tall buildings in Vauxhall

map vauxhallMartin Stanley, gimlet-eyed local historian and newsletter editor of TVS member, Fentiman Road and Richbourne Terrace Residents Association, put the Vauxhall Cross documents online via his indispensable Vauxhall and Kennington website, where you follow the link highlighted in red.

You may find these documents are of great interest:

Map of eight tallest buildings to have received planning permission in Vauxhall

Presentation by Transport for London

Among other things this summarises Vauxhall Bridge traffic from 0800 to 0900hrs on weekdays as:

  • bus passengers 4551
  • pedestrians 3270
  • cars, taxis and lorries 859
  • cycles 352

You want more? There’s also a suite of documents to do with the development of Vauxhall Cross.

And while we’re on the subject of Vauxhall Cross, you can find even more about what’s going on if you attend the public meeting at out a lot more on Wednesday 19 March when there’s a public meeting at Wheatsheaf Hall, Wheatsheaf Lane, off South Lambeth Road, starts 7.50pm for refreshments, down to business 8.10pm. There’ll be an hour of presentations, the most interesting of which will be on the Vauxhall Gyratory, from the Kennington, Oval and Vauxhall Forum, of which The Vauxhall Society is a member.

KOV, is a forum supported by Lambeth Council, yet KOV’s members, individual and community-group, are vehemently critical of Lambeth/TfL’s plans for the Vauxhall Gyratory. KOV, like VGERTA, is backing the Save Vauxhall Bus Station campaign launched by The Vauxhall Society.

The other two presentations are from the poverty-pleading developers of the controversial Sky Gardens skyscraper, and from Sainsburys (no, you can’t have the petrol station back). This meet-your-Vauxhall-neighbours evening is a joint event, staged by KOV and TVS associate member Wyvil Estate Residents Association.

Sign online petition to Save Vauxhall Bus Station.

Matthew Wood, a man Vauxhall should not forget

Spare a thought for Matthew Wood on Wednesday 16 January, for it is unlikely that any of the bigwigs of Vauxhall, Nine Elms & Battersea business, officialdom or local politics will.

Matthew Wood lived in Sutton, Surrey. He was 39 when he died, on his way to work in Vauxhall at 7.59am, rush hour, on 16 January 2013. Mr Wood was outside Wendle Court, the Wandsworth Road premises of Rentokil, where he was an office manager. It was a foggy morning, and a helicopter crashed into the street. It had hit one riverside skyscraper, narrowly missed another, as well as a crowded bus and the viaduct carrying Southampton-Waterloo commuter train line. Wreckage fell in New Covent Garden Market.

The helicopter had hit a 719-ft crane on a Vauxhall Cross skyscraper, The (594 ft) Tower, One St George Wharf. The helicopter’s fuel tank exploded. The pilot, Peter Barnes, also died. Another passer-by was seriously injured, five others were taken to hospital and seven treated at the scene. Vauxhall Bus Station was closed for five days.

Lambeth Council later issued a self-congratulatory press release on how quickly it had cleaned up the mess. Other than that, radio silence has been maintained. The Air Accidents Investigation Branch has yet to issue its final report and won’t say when it will.

In 1991, Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey tried to write into a law a Bill tightening up control of helicopter flights over central London. The Mayor, Boris Johnson says he is reviewing the regulation of aircraft flights over central London and the safety of tall buildings. The Prime Minister says he is too.
Meanwhile, the London Boroughs of Lambeth and Wandsworth have since approved the building of half a dozen more skyscrapers at Vauxhall Cross, some higher than The Tower, One St George Wharf.

Vauxhall helicopter crash ‘preventable’, BBC says


Previous Vauxhall Society coverage
Inspection of skyscraper cluster promised

Tall building air turbulence a problem, says local resident

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

Vauxhall Cluster diagram.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

Vauxhall Cluster diagram.jpg

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

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

The CLS/Vauxhall One letter in full

What the tunnellers say

NLE: is the fix still in?

Northen-Line-extension‘Is the fix in?’ The Vauxhall Society asked in November as the Public Inquiry into the Northern Line Extension opened in Wandsworth. The question inferred that the inquiry (like NLE itself) is a waste of borrowed public money, that NLE will happen whatever anyone thinks.

The public inquiry is still under way, but on 5 December came confirmation that NLE is a done deal. In the Autumn Statement of that day was an announcement that rather got lost in the day’s political posturing: the Chancellor of the Exchequer is guaranteeing borrowing by the Mayor of London of up to £1bn ‘at a new preferential rate’ to support NLE.

Look like Vauxhall’s Compulsory Purchase Orders weren’t drawn up in vain?

What we said: northern-line-extension-public-inquiry-is-the-fix-in