The 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.’