Vauxhall Sky Gardens: All pie in the sky?

Vauxhall Sky Gardens

Vauxhall Sky GardensYou couldn’t make it up. In an Economist article on VNEB (16 February,pp 25,26) Simon Jenkins describes tall-buildings policy as ‘corrupt’, not because people are stealing money but because nowadays councils get a rake-off from planning proposals they OK. Hence ‘a wall of glass from Bermondsey to Battersea’.

Now comes news that, three and a half years ago, having OK’d the 34-storey Vauxhall Sky Gardens skyscraper at the junction of Wyvil Street and Wandsworth Road, Lambeth councillors are now considering allowing the Singaporean developers, Fraser Properties, to welch on the promised ‘affordable housing’.

And guess what? Nobody’s being consulted, because it’s all down to a ‘financial appraisal’ submitted by Fraser, and that’s ‘confidential’. Fraser agreed to make affordable housing out of about 55 of the 178 homes. Now Fraser wants top whack for each one.

Want to know more?

Simona Butera

Senior Planning Officer, Lambeth Planning

Phone: 020 7926 1207


Fraser Properties and Vauxhall Sky Gardens:

‘Has the highest development density for London and UK and is intended as an urban model of integrated environmental and social sustainability’:

VNEB, another tax-yielding ‘desert’ like Docklands?

Councillors, officials and developers like to say how great a place the Vauxhall, Nine Elms & Battersea (VNEB) area will be live. Or will it instead be a depopulated desert in the evenings and weekends, rather like large parts of Dockland?  The two local authorities, Lambeth and herbal viagra Wandsworth, look forward to collecting lots of tax (writes Martin Stanley), but do not appear to be expecting many families to live there.

It also appears that the proposed ‘affordable housing’ will be expensive, at 80% of market rents.   Here are some extracts from recent comments (1) in The Economist , (2) in the Tradescant Blog, and (3) from a document on Lambeth’s website:-

  1. Tony Travers, head of the Greater London Group at the London School of Economics, calls Nine Elms a symptom of the “Hong Kongification” of the city. London has a fast-growing population but also a tight “green belt” which stops it from sprawling. If it cannot go out, it must go up. Nine Elms is therefore going to be three times as dense as London as a whole—jam-packed with tall apartment blocks, with a cluster of towers at its eastern end. … Most of the purchasers are likely to be foreigners. They prefer newly built blocks to the cheap cialis canada Victorian terraces that the locals go for; according to Knight Frank, an estate agent, they snapped up two-thirds of the new flats in central London in 2012. If too many of them keep their properties as second homes, visiting only a few times a year, the area may struggle to come to life. The Economist 
  2. Almost since the day planning permission was granted for development of Saint George’s Wharf, St. George Plc has sought to chip away at the mixed-use nature of the site and move it towards purely residential.  Twice, office space was transformed into flats.  Then a hotel was dropped from the scheme entirely.  Along the way, some space set aside for leisure or community gatherings was changed to offices ….  More lately, a ground floor storefront which had been empty has been re-purposed for use as an office.Though the area would seem to benefit from tremendous residential construction and huge footfall around the tube, rail and bus stations, retailers have apparently decided it doesn’t have much potential.  St. George Plc says, “Despite intensive marketing this suite has remained un-let since completion.” Though – Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, and Travelodge have all invested to create new capacity in the immediate vicinity.  A cynic might say St. George Plc isn’t really interested in hosting businesses on its site.

    In a piece of breath-taking audacity the developers of Sky Gardens (opposite Sainsbury’s on the corner of Wandsworth Road and Wyvil Road) have put in an application to reduce the Affordable Housing provision from 31% as originally agreed) to zero%. Tradescant blog

    Our analysis … indicates that the incomes a household will require to access Affordable Rent will increase substantially compared to the incomes required to access a social rented unit. This analysis assumes that Affordable Rent units are let at 80% of average market rents … For example, our analysis indicates that a household would require an income equivalent to 54% of average pay to rent a one-bed social rented unit … the income required to access a four-bed … unit would be equivalent to 179% of average pay; an increase from 77% for a social rented unit. Lambeth Council

    Lambeth Council’s ‘Vision for Vauxhall’ :

Traffic and the Vauxhall Gyratory: three questions for the Wednesday 20 March public meeting

Martin Stanley of TVS affiliate the Fentiman Road and Richborne Terrace Residents Association has come up with three questions worth Vauxhall people asking at the public meeting on the Vauxhall Nine Elms ‘regeneration’ and the Northern Line Extension that Lambeth is holding at 7pm on Wednesday 20 March at the Wheatsheaf Hall, Wheatsheaf Lane, SW8 2UP.

  1. Does Lambeth’s requirement that ‘all development proposals must demonstrate that they will have reduced or at the most a neutral traffic impact’ apply equally to the developments along the Nine Elms Lane, most of generic viagra lowest prices which are in Wandsworth? If not, then that will make it doubly difficult to deliver the reduction in traffic levels which may in turn persuade TfL to abandon the gyratory.
  2. What happens if TfL do not agree to get rid of the gyratory? What then happens to the bus station and all the other town centre plans?
  3. If the abandonment of the gyratory does lead to traffic delays on the approaches to Vauxhall Bridge, will not this increase traffic density on surrounding streets and roads, and a general increase in rat-running? Maybe Fentiman Road will become the new Harleyford Road, and Albert Square the new gyratory?

Martin’s questions arise from Lambeth’s evident assumption that

  • All the new offices and homes being built at Vauxhall Cross (and 16,000 more homes on Nine Elms Lane) won’t generate any net new traffic whatsoever
  • Other motor traffic will reduce by 6%, so allowing Transport for London to abandon the gyratory.

Martin continues:

‘The story so far is that there is unstoppable political and practical commitment to much high-rise development around Vauxhall Cross and the infilling of the previously ugly area between Vauxhall Cross and the Battersea Power Station. But some concerns remain.

The first set of concerns are around Lambeth Council’s well-intentioned aspiration to create a ‘town centre’ within Vauxhall Cross, by persuading TfL to get rid of the gyratory and the bus station. The Council asserts (correctly, I guess) that local residents would love to get rid of the gyratory. But I suspect that what residents really want is to get rid of the traffic from the six main roads that converge on Vauxhall Cross.

Bearing this in mind, it is interesting to note that the Council is assuming that all the new offices and homes around Vauxhall Cross, and the 16,000 new homes in the VNEB, will not generate any net new traffic whatsoever, and that other motor traffic will reduce by 6%, thus allowing TfL to abandon the gyratory. Here is an extract from the Council’s Supplementary Planning Guidance (emphasis added):

‘Recent traffic modelling undertaken by TfL indicates that a reduction in current traffic levels will be required to realise the Council’s goal of removing the gyratory. The Mayor’s Transport Strategy proposes changes to mode share by 2031 including increases in cycling, walking and public transport and a consequent reduction of 6% in private motorised transport. … This proposed reduction in private motorized transport should be seen as an opportunity to test the viability of removing the gyratory and in order to achieve this all development proposals must demonstrate that they will have reduced or at the most a neutral traffic impact.’

Scrutiny committee meeting:

International design competition for Vauxhall

There’s cheering New Year news for Vauxhall, in the shape of an international competition to find what the organisers term ‘The Missing Link’.

No, not a search along the Vauxhall riverside to find the fossil linking man to the apes, but a competition initiated by the Royal Institute of British Architects, Vauxhall One, the Landscape Institute and Vauxhall’s Garden Museum for design ideas to link the forthcoming US Embassy ‘Quarter’ at Nine Elms with the South Bank’s galleries and concert halls with an ‘outdoor cultural trail’ through Vauxhall’s parks and railway arches.

Full details will be announced on 14 January.

Meanwhile, Vauxhall One is leading its design guidance to architects, landscape architects, urban designers entering the competition with Vauxhall: A Little History, Vauxhall Society chairman Ross Davies’s paperback, described as ‘a good guide for historical context’.

Buy Vauxhall: A Little History here

Want to receive further information on the competition? Email

The ‘Missing Link’ press release in full

Vauxhall Society AGM: how family-friendly is VNEB?

Vauxhall Society affiliate the Fentiman Road, Richborne Terrace and Dorset Road Residents’ Association attended the Society’s AGM, and reported back to members that VNEB planners ‘do not expect to attract many families’, adding ‘There will be no new secondary school and only one new primary school. Families will be expected to travel outside the immediate VNEB area for schooling and to access green spaces – mainly Vauxhall and Battersea Parks, both of which will receive funding’.

Also noted: ‘There was no mention of possible wind funneling which – if it does happen – could make the town centre very unpleasant from time to time. Presumably Lambeth Council will seek independent professional advice on this.’

The FRRTDR report in full:

In advance of your Residents Association AGM tomorrow (Monday), here is a report from the recent AGM of the Vauxhall Society. It contains
interesting information about Vauxhall Nine Ems Battersea (VNEB) project and Vauxhall Cross.

The meeting started with a report from TVS Cahriman Ross Davies who stressed the wide aims of the society, including significant community
involvement. The society is not anti-development. Indeed it receives copies of planning applications at the rate of around one a day, but has commented on only three in the last year – the Northern Line Extension, the Kylun Tower and the student accommodation building opposite Vauxhall Park – all for reasons which will be familiar to regular readers of this webpage. A copy of Ross’s full report can be found here:

There followed contributions from the VNEB project team and TfL. I summarise the main points below but I should say up front that both speakers came across as very sincere and indeed excited by what is proposed for the VNEB area.

The first key point is that VNEB will have a huge strategic impact. It will create 40,000 construction jobs (presumably not all at the same time) and 25,000 new permanent jobs. It is a 20 year project which has already begun (and is in practice unstoppable) and which will create 2 new town centres, one of them at Vauxhall Cross.

Part of the development will be a new entertainment district, and reference was made to Lambeth’s Night Time Economic Study which will be published later this month.

Both speakers stressed that the plans are very challenging and will exert ‘tremendous pressure’ on the area. The construction will be ‘dense’ and, although there will be green spaces, there will be no new parks. The proposed linear park is intended to be an attractive but quite narrow walkway. And much of the other open space will not be accessible to those who do not live or work in the new buildings. There will also be a new New Covent Garden Market, including new retail outlets.

There will accordingly need a lot of new infrastructure, including improvements to Vauxhall Railway Station. TfL and the VNEB team are also working closely together on the Vauxhall Gyratory – but it did not sound as though they are anywhere near agreement on its future. It is difficult to imagine an attractive new Vauxhall ‘town centre’ unless there is significantly less traffic than now. But VNEB will generate a lot of extra traffic – including construction traffic (remember those 40,000 workers), and neither speaker offered any idea how the existing or the additional traffic might be persuaded to avoid Vauxhall Cross.

[Incidentally, Councillor Peck, Lambeth’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Strategic Housing, told the society, in an email received before the meeting, that “The Northern Line Extension will help breath new life into the very good site Vauxhall and Nine Elms area, but it’s vital that this shouldn’t be at cost to local residents living along the route”.]

Returning to the meeting – and although they did not say so said explicitly – it is clear that the planners do not expect the area to attract many families. There will be no new secondary school and only one new primary school. Families will be expected to travel outside the immediate VNEB area for schooling and to access green spaces.

There was no mention of possible wind funneling which – if it does happen – could make the town centre very unpleasant from time to time. Presumably Lambeth Council will seek and publish independent professional advice on this.

Vauxhall Cross Gyratory petition, consultation: time to have your say as Lambeth and Transport for London bicker over whether the car is king

One point that came out strongly from The Vauxhall Society’s well-attended AGM on 26 November is that if you have any ideas on what you want or do not want to see done about the traffic at Vauxhall Cross, then you should do something yourself, indeed two things, and now.

  • One is: Respond before 26 November to the current Lambeth Council consultation on what should happen at Vauxhall Cross,
  • The other thing to do is: Check out the Vauxhall Gyratory petition,

Why bother?

Because for once the two consultations are not about helping officials rubber-stamp what they’ve already decided. Petition and consultation back up the clear impression that the AGM audience were given that Lambeth and Transport for London disagree on what to do about the gyratory.

Guest speakers Helen Fisher (VNEB), Sandra Roebuck (Lambeth) and Richard de Cani (TfL) differ on what to do with the road layout at Vauxhall Cross. TfL thinks the levitra canada generic car has to be king; Lambeth wants the gyratory to be more pedestrian- and bike-friendly, and VNEB’ happy with what TfL’s happy with. The petition is Lambeth’s attempt to exert the pressure of public opinion on Mayor Boris Johnson, TfL’s boss.

The consultation document, meanwhile, is about Lambeth’s ‘Supplementary Planning Document’ (what Vauxhall people think Vauxhall Cross should be). The Mayor and TfL are powering ahead with bringing in 26,000 extra people to the area, ‘a cluster of tall buildings’ and attendant extra traffic at Vauxhall Cross, all on the basis of pre-SPD assumptions. Weirdly, Lambeth is dishing out the planning permissions before it has any overall social and environmental plan of its own to measure the Mayor’s skyscraper stampede against.

Skyscraper stampede: what does ‘affordable housing’ mean?

One answer is ‘whatever the local authority and a developer agree what it means’.

The Vauxhall Society asked Vauxhall developer CLS what ‘affordable housing’ means to them. CLS seeks planning permission from Lambeth for the huge Vauxhall Square scheme at Vauxhall Cross, with ‘110 units of affordable housing’, as well as 410 other properties, which CLS terms not ‘unaffordable’ but ‘private’.

CLS say they arrived at their ‘affordable’ proposals in discussion with ‘registered providers’ (housing associations) and Lambeth’s Housing Department. 58% of the affordable housing units (64 units) will be for rent, 22 being three-bed family units let at ‘social rent levels’. The rest will rented in line with Lambeth policy of what is ‘affordable’ at 60% of ‘Market Rent’. The other ‘affordable’ units will be sold as shared ownership units in line with Lambeth and Greater London Authority’s ‘affordability restrictions’.

CLS’s advisers G L Hearn have an Affordable Housing Director, Barry Rea, who says: ‘The precise definitions of affordability will be negotiated with Lambeth and contained within a Section 106 Agreement which will bind the land. That document will also bind the Registered Provider (housing association) who acquires and manages the affordable housing.’

Mr Hearn points to the ‘affordability’ section of the London Plan, the regional planning guide, which defines the various types of ‘affordable housing’.

The Vauxhall Square scheme:

For the London Plan’s definitions of ‘affordable housing’ download the London Plan extract


Stockwell Park Residents Association: ‘Vauxhall to have a tenth of New York’s open space’


Fans and foes of the VNEB development area alike bandy about the word ‘ Manhattan’ to describe the glass canyons now going up in Vauxhall. But Manhattan, unlike VNEBland, has opera, theatre and museums as well as skyscrapers. In her report to Stockwell Park Residents Association on the Vauxhall Society AGM, Jacqueline Laughton-Scott notes VNEB’s Helen Fisher as admittingd that the (VNEB) development will be ‘very dense’. There’ll be an average of 2% open space, compared with 20% for New York. Ms Laughton-Scott also notes that there’ll be no new parks other than the ‘linear park’, a walkway linking the green spaces beneath the skycrapers, and adds: ‘There seems to be a lot of emphasis on the wonderful amenity of Battersea Park, but at weekends this is already quite crowded (particularly in the summer) and it will be interesting to know how the residents from a further 16,500 homes are going to be crammed into it. There is a football pitch planned for the top of one of the tall buildings, but apart from this there is no ‘games’ space and the area will rely on the surrounding parks – Battersea, Springfield Gardens, Vauxhall Gardens and Larkhall Park.’

That AGM report in full:

Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea Development Plans
1. There are no new secondary schools planned at all. The belief is that the existing secondary schools will cope with the extra demand through expansion. However, one of the governors of the Archbishop Tenison’s School pointed out that they were already over-subscribed and had no room for further development.
2. Helen Fisher admitted that the development was ‘very dense’ with an average of 2% open space (compared with 20% for New York) and there are no new parks planned other than the linear park, which is a walkway linking all the green spaces under the tall buildings going from Vauxhall to Battersea Park. There seems to be a lot of emphasis on the wonderful amenity of Battersea Park, but at weekends this is already quite crowded (particularly in the summer) and it will be interesting to know how the residents from a further 16,500 homes are going to be crammed into it. There is a football pitch planned for the top of one of the tall buildings, but apart from this there is no ‘games’ space and the area will rely on the surrounding parks – Battersea, Springfield Gardens, Vauxhall Gardens and Larkhall Park. There is section 106 funding available for the ‘impact of local development’ on these parks but I gather that this funding has been reduced by 25k for Vauxhall Gardens recently. We have section 106 funding available for Slade Gardens and in view of the pressures on this ‘pot’ we need to develop the master plan for Slade Gardens without delay.
3. There will be a plan for the transport system at Vauxhall in January 2013 which will be put out for consultation. Several of us expressed surprise that planning permission for the buildings had been given before this had been finalised and I understand that there have been heated discussions surrounding the viagra prices conflicting needs of a town centre and the needs of a major transport hub. The whole subject of where the town centres will be, appears vague but at the moment they are Battersea power station, Vauxhall Square + the bus station and the Lambeth embankment.
4. There was a huge emphasis on the amount of jobs that will be created which are all based on construction.
5. A study has been done showing how important the ‘night economy’ is to the area although there appears to be an awareness of the repercussions of this.

Vauxhall Gyratory: no change there, then?


DATAThe latest newsletter from DATA, the umbrella group of local transport activists, picks up on TfL’s assertion at The Vauxhall Society’s AGM (26 October, although DATA seems to think it was 10 October) that, whatever is to be done about the Vauxhall Gyratory, nothing will be done to reduce traffic. That, asserts TfL’s Richard Di Cani, would only be to shift the traffic elsewhere. But what’s wrong with reducing traffic here, given that TfL is claiming in its current Northern Line Extension consultation that TfL is helping to bring ‘16,000 homes and 25,000 jobs’ to the Vauxhall Cross area? The ‘consultation’ document TfL is now distributing door-to-door mentions neither compensatiing you for tunnelling beneath your home or business, nor why, if TfL is so keen on NLE, TfL isn’t going pay for it – you are. The TfL consultation closes on on 16 December. Details, or email

Download the DATA newsletter here:

DATA Newsletter Number 4

NLE: Vauxhall residents group IMPACT testing TfL’s claims to be leafletting 40,000 homes

Residents group IMPACT doubts Transport for London’s claims (see email below) to have distributed 40,000 of the latest TfL consultation leaflet on the Northern Line Extension. That’s partly because many Vauxhall householders say they have yet to receive this latest leaflet, and partly because it’s the anniversary of a previous TfL consultation claim that involved TFL’s publicists, a now-bust property company, in a humiliating climbdown, having claimed to have contacted many thousands of homes when they had done nothing of the sort. IMPACT, which serves the Meadow Road, Palfrey Place, Ashmole Street, Claylands Road/Place and Trigon Road district of Vauxhall, is campaigning to limit the noise which will come from NLE trains below ground, as well as overcrowding at Oval station and on the Bank branch of the Northern Line, both of which NLE is likely to make worse.

If you got the TFL leaflet, fill in the questionnaire, says IMPACT; if you haven’t, let IMPACT know at

TfL ‘consultation’- What The Vauxhall Society reported this time last year:

Dear stakeholder

I am writing to let you know that the consultation on more detailed plans for the Northern line extension is now underway.

The proposals include:

  • Extending the line from Kennington to Battersea via Nine Elms
  • New stations at Battersea and Nine Elms
  • Two permanent shafts at Kennington Green and Kennington Park to provide ventilation, cooling and emergency access if required
  • Two temporary shafts at Radcot Street and Harmsworth Street to enable works to stabilise the ground in preparation for the new tunnels to be built

The consultation gives residents, businesses and other stakeholders the opportunity to comment on the proposals before they are finalised ready to submit an application for a Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO) in spring 2013.

Leaflets have been distributed to over 40,000 households and businesses along the proposed route and the proposals can be viewed on line at or speak to us in person and view the plans at one of the public exhibitions being held along the proposed route.

The consultation period will close at 17:00 on Sunday 16 December 2012.


Brigid Burnham
Consultation and Engagement
Northern Line Extension