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.