Row over 53-storey tower block for Vauxhall and demolition of bus station

Residents have demanded the Government prevent plans to build a 53-storey tower block.

Community groups in Vauxhall want Secretary of State for Communities and local Government Sajid Javid to “call in” the multi-million pound revamp of Vauxhall Cross.

Transport for London want to demolish the 13-year-old bus station yards from Vauxhall Bridge and allow Zaha Hadid Architects and owners VCI to build two tower blocks on the site – one 53 floors high and one 42 floors.

The scheme includes a 500-room hotel, 250 flats and shops.

A new Vauxhall bus station would then be constructed on the ground floor and a new public space between the towers and Vauxhall railway station.

But campaigners claim consultation on the project has not allowed the scheme to be considered as a whole, and that it will cause travel chaos for up to 70,000 commuters a day.

They are also furious Transport for London (TfL) will not do an environmental impact assessment even though residential roads and three primary schools will be affected.

Residents Helen Irwin and Pauline Gaunt said: “This is unforgiveable in one of London’s most notorious pollution black spots.

The pair have written to Mr Javid on behalf of the Vauxhall Society, residents and the Save Vauxhall Bus Station campaign, to plead with him to have the scheme and its impact considered as a whole.

“These schemes are inextricably interdependent, but TfL have manipulated the planning rules to isolate the elements of the plans, so preventing any consideration of their overall effect on transport issues or the wider needs and health of the population,” they said.

“Consultation has been flawed. Information has not been made available to those it affects, and fundamental changes, such as the massive land swap deal to hand over half of the bus station to developers, have been completed behind closed doors and without public discussion.

“It is not necessary to waste £50million pounds of precious taxpayers’ money on this project.

“The decision on the bus station has been made without reference to the plans for a huge development on the adjacent island site also within the gyratory and without consideration of its implications for traffic flows across London.

“TfL has rejected, without modelling it, a well-researched scheme by traffic experts and local residents for a less polluted and more efficient two way scheme, which would not require demolition.

“This is a prime example of how the process can be manipulated to fail the people it is set up to protect.

“Questionnaires to the public have been carefully phrased to prompt the required answers and access to information has been withheld from the majority of Vauxhall’s users. Only Oyster card holders and those living in the immediate vicinity were contacted.

“Freedom Pass Holders were excluded, plus child bus pass holders and anyone who didn’t travel through Vauxhall on a daily basis – including the hundreds of people who disembark at Vauxhall on route to St Thomas’ Hospital.

The campaigners are also worried about access to the new buildings.

Their letter said: “A single vehicular access point off the gyratory in Wandsworth Road to the proposed 500-room hotel, 250 flats and commercial premises is insufficient for the high number of service and other vehicles which may be expected each day. It will result in major tailbacks and will unacceptably reduce traffic speeds, and increase pollution.

“The scheme is an attempt to placate the outcry which greeted a plan floated four years ago.

They add: “Lambeth/TfL have come up with the current £50million plans for a much reduced and inferior bus station with reduced weather cover, still situated within a gyratory, but a two-way one, no significant reduction in pollution levels, increased crossing times for pedestrians at the most polluted points, and bus stops being moved from the safety of the current bus station to roadside positions adjacent to the proposed island site development, which do not comply with Government guidelines on antiterrorism measures.

“The full impact of this scheme will be felt from Marble Arch to Camberwell, Wandsworth to the Elephant and Castle. Any failure within any of its component parts quickly reverberates out across central London with disastrous consequences.

“The plans will negatively affect traffic flow and the travelling population for decades. TfL should not now be allowed to reduce travel facilities in order to prioritise the wishes of London Borough of Lambeth as defined in the Lambeth Plan, over their primary duty to the wider needs of the transport system and travelling public.”

Seven main roads meet at Vauxhall Cross which is one of South London’s biggest public transport interchanges for buses, Tubes and Overground rail services serving a catchment area across the south-east of England.

TfL estimate that the daily footfall at Vauxhall will shortly increase from 45,000 to 70,000 as families move into the 20,000 flats being built in Nine Elms.

A TfL spokeswoman said: “We are working closely with Lambeth council to reintroduce the safer two way road system in place of the one way system at Vauxhall, which was supported in public consultation. “The current bus station was created for the one-way road system so needs to be completely redesigned to allow buses to operate.

“These changes will enable us to create not only safer roads, but also new public spaces and improved cycle lanes and pedestrian facilities and more efficient bus routes.”

A Lambeth Council spokesman said: “The schemes are on different sites in different ownership and being developed by different developers.

“As they are neighbouring sites they do have a relationship however there is no requirement that both developers submit under a single application.

“Considering two planning applications on adjacent sites is a common occurrence under the planning system. Each development needs to be acceptable on its own merits and assessing the relationship of a development with neighbouring sites, both as they are now and how they might be developed in the future is a fundamental and routine consideration for planning officers.

“Submitting two separate applications does not prevent a consideration of cumulative impacts.

“Officers are aware of the land swap required to enable the developments but this not a material consideration and does not affect the planning merit of either scheme.”

‘An improved pedestrian environment’ The office blocks and hotel on Vauxhall Cross Island – designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, creators of the London Aquatics Centre and the maths centre at the Science Museum – will be connected by a podium which is itself 10 storeys high.

The £600million complex is expected to make £47million for the developers, according to their own viability study, with the work being engineered by Buro Happold.

The scheme includes:
– A new 500+ room hotel
– Up to 260 new homes, with private homes and 19 per cent affordable housing
– About 220,000 sq ft of office accommodation
– About 7,000 sq ft of shopping/dining at street level.

They estimate that 1,450 office jobs would be created, up to 500 hotel jobs and 50 jobs from retail and building management.

The project is being managed by Great Marlborough Estates (GME), which said its plans would provide “improved pedestrian environment and experience; helping to create a safer and more legible streetscape, accommodating the increasing pedestrian activity between Vauxhall railway station and Nine Elms”.

9 thoughts on “Row over 53-storey tower block for Vauxhall and demolition of bus station

  • 24th February 2018 at 8:37 am
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    The title of the article is very misleading! Residents are NOT demanding to prevent this development. It is Pauline Gaunt and Helen Irwin. I am a resident and can’t wait for that horrible bus station to go. The new development will create new jobs and bring people to the area (hotel) plus create a new open public space.

    Pauline you seem lovely, but please, let the younger generation to benefit from this scheme… go for a nice country walk or a cup of tea instead of campaigning for something that only a few people support.

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  • 24th February 2018 at 4:57 pm
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    I am a local resident of Vauxhall and, like many fellow residents, cannot wait for the current Vauxhall Bus Station to be replaced with something that works better for everyone, and is fit for purpose given the radical transformation of the Vauxhall Nine Elms area. I believe the current Vauxhall Bus Station is inefficient, delays bus routes and traffic, adds congestion, and contributes to high pollution levels in the area. The plans that have been approved by Lambeth Council remove from the Bus Station some of the nonsensical routes some buses take as they wind their way in and out of the station, causing delay and pollution and wasting everyone’s time. At present, Vauxhall Cross is an awful maelstrom of delay and unpleasantness, particularly at rush hour.

    I am therefore shocked that a group of (mostly elderly) local residents are persisting in their opposition to what many of us believe are perfectly sensible plans to bring Vauxhall Cross into the 21st century, ditching a gyratory and bus station that were designed last century and are obviously no longer fit for purpose. The main motivation seems to be resistance to having to cross the road to take some buses whose stops are being taken out of the main bus station. This is simply incredible: whilst this does appear to be a loss of convenience for some, is it worth throwing into disarray plans Lambeth Council and TfL have been developing and consulting on for the past 6 years, and sending back to the drawing board for another 6 years changes which are needed urgently now? The vast majority of users of Vauxhall Bus Station are not pensioners: they are workers, employees, business people, schoolchildren, families and increasingly students, who have no difficulties crossing the road to catch the odd bus, and are more interested in not wasting time at rush hour as they try to get to work/school/uni/etc. How can it be acceptable that their needs be overridden by a small but vocal minority of elderly residents with plenty of time on their hands to respond to consultations and lobby MPs and ministers, to pursue their narrow agenda? And what about the future residents of the towers being built around Vauxhall and in Nine Elms – isn’t anticipating their needs relevant too?

    Vauxhall Cross needs to be transformed now – not in another 6 years from now – and it is simply unacceptable that the agenda should be dictated by a small group of residents who have made it their life’s mission to oppose what most people regard as sensible and necessary changes to Vauxhall gyratory and Bus Station.

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    • 26th February 2018 at 12:29 pm
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      You have expressed quite clearly the view of many other Vauxhall/Battersea residents about the Vauxhall Bus Station / Vauxhall Gyratory and what many of us want Vauxhall Cross to be in the future.

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  • 25th February 2018 at 6:52 pm
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    I live in Vauxhall and cannot understand why Helen Irwin and Pauline Gaunt keep pretending they talk on behalf of our community; most of us (as it has been proven during the different consultations) want that horrible bus station gone and as a bonus we will also get rid of the Vauxhall Gyratory system.

    The new plans look exciting, creating two new open and public spaces, one connecting the bus and tube station with the national rail station. In addition, what I really like about the proposed development is the 500+ Hilton hotel room plus the 20,000+square feet of office space; it will not only bring jobs to the area but also tourists, helping to create the footfall the area needs to fill the restaurants and shops opening up.

    Pauline and Helen seem really nice people, but I really hope they enjoy their golden years and stop creating a fuss out of something that will benefit most of the community as a whole.

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  • 25th February 2018 at 7:10 pm
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    I am a local resident who lives just two minutes away from the Vauxhall Bus Station and I wholeheartedly agree with the concerns voiced by Pauline Gaunt and Helen Irwin.
    I remember when the bus station was built and how much easier and safer life got for bus passengers when all the bus stops that were formally scattered around the wider area, were finally put into one location and under one roof.
    Neither the proposal from TfL, nor that from Zaha Hadid Architects offer the same level of convenience and security to bus, train and underground users.
    If the new plans don’t offer any improvement on what we have today, why spend all the money? An alternative proposal for the Vauxhall bus station and gyratory put forward by local residents, showed that two-way working of the Vauxhall gyratory doesn’t necessitate the removal of the bus station.
    What I find most confusing though, is that the proposal from Zaha Hadid Architects, although partially on the same piece of land, seems to be negating many of the much-vaunted advantages that TfL’s (consented) proposal contained, such as the traffic-free piazza between the train station, the underground and the bus station, all with weather protection. Also, with the Zaha Hadid Architects’ proposal, one lot of bus stops on one side of the island site will be cut off from another lot of bus stops on the other side by a podium building between the two towers with a shopping mall which will be closed at night.
    So, in addition to the greater inconvenience of having to cross roads and walk around buildings to catch connecting buses, we’re also losing out on the security front.
    I could go on, but I’ll just say that, in my opinion, all Vauxhall bus users, the young, the elderly, the fit and the infirm will find the proposed scheme a lot harder, or at least, more time consuming to negotiate than the existing bus station. Both TfL’s and Zaha Hadid Architects’ proposals decrease mobility for ordinary Londoners.

    Andrea Hofling

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  • 27th February 2018 at 9:51 am
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    “Bring Vauxhall into the 21st. Century” … “no longer fit for purpose”. Is it me, or does this sound like a Lambeth Council / TfL press release? Curious that neither Ms. Douring nor Mr. Marcano appears to have an online presence: one might almost imagine they were simply trolls for the two agencies determined to destroy Vauxhall Bus Station. Speaking as a relatively young Vauxhall resident and frequent user of the station, I find the attacks on Irwin and Gaunt on the grounds of their age insulting and ignorant. So, too, the remarks on the station. If Marcano and Douring ever used it – or if they existed – they would know that it works extraordinarily well. This would certainly have been the response of a majority of users, had they been asked the question, which TfL / Lambeth were careful to ensure that they were not. Having lived in Vauxhall since before the station was built, I would say it has been the greatest addition to public amenity in the area this century. And while Douring (or her creator) may trot out the tired, old ski-jump cliché about the station, Jonathan Glancey, who is both an architectural critic and an actual person, had this to say in the Guardian when it opened in 2005: “Architecturally, it is a trumpet blast: an extraordinary structure that is striking, clear and unmissable … this bus station is a harbinger of what could be achieved in the future.” That future is now, and the station is still, in Douring’s unlovely phrase, “fit for purpose”. Arup’s structure is also perhaps the only truly iconic addition to the recent architectural landscape of an area sorely in need of icons. The truth is that Lambeth / TfL want it demolished so that they can get cash from property developers, full stop.

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  • 27th February 2018 at 11:59 am
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    Yeah, I’ll be happy to hop, skip and jump across roads to catch a bus at the new Vauxhall bus station. Don’t you just get a kick out of beating the elderly, disabled, parents with prams and young children etc. to that bus? I, for one, am young, fit and full of zest for life and I positively thrive on running across busy roads, ducking and diving the traffic. Oh, what it is to be young and healthy – the brave new Vauxhall belongs to us!

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  • 27th February 2018 at 4:30 pm
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    This is in response to Charles Darwent’ post.

    He says ” I find the attacks on Irwin and Gaunt on the grounds of their age insulting and ignorant.”; however, he is happy to attack me and Ms. Douring.

    I actually find your comment insulting and you are a complete ignorant if you think people cannot have a different opinion to yours. I am happy to provide my details to Toby Porter for him to verify my existence and that I am in fact a local resident who uses the Vauxhall Bus Station almost on a daily basis (easily verified as I paid as you go with my debit card).

    I stand by my original opinion and I cannot wait for the Vauxhall Bus Station to go to create something better; which in fact won’t be difficult with the horrible and impractical bus interchange.

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  • 1st March 2018 at 3:13 pm
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    Mr Charles Darwent, re-read this:

    1. Curious that neither Ms. Douring nor Mr. Marcano appears to have an online presence: one might almost imagine they were simply trolls for the two agencies determined to destroy Vauxhall Bus Station.
    2. If Marcano and Douring ever used it – or if they existed – they would know that it works extraordinarily well.
    3. The truth is that Lambeth / TfL want it demolished so that they can get cash from property developers, full stop.

    Yes, you actually wrote this. Perhaps not your most dignified moment…

    In essence what you are saying in 1 and 2 is that no-one can possibly exist with views and experiences that differ from yours. Obviously, your statements are unworthy of a response.
    In 3, you in turn trot out the ludicrous, facile and tired conspiracy theory that Lambeth Council are money-grabbing baddies out to get cash from evil property developers. Now even if that were true, try following your logic a little further, if you have the intellectual ability to do so: what would Lambeth then do with these millions? Line the private bank accounts of Council officials? Spend it all on (very many) dinners and spa treatments? Or continue to provide services such as adult social care, children’s services, or housing estate maintenance now that their budgets have been cut 50% since 2010?

    Less emotional mud-slinging and more rational thinking, please.

    Reply

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