Vauxhall Cross Update

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Having visited one of the four consultation meetings, in this instance I went to the Battersea Arts Centre, any fears concerning access and entry to Lawn Lane have not been assuaged. It would appear that what on the proposed road layout plans looks like a shortening of the concrete central reservation at the junction of South Lambeth Road/Lawn Lane is actually  nothing of the sort. Bizarrely  the scope of Tfl’s review did not extend beyond that point at South Lambeth Road so they just didn’t complete the central reservation on the drawing.  They say that they will go away and extend the geographical area to be reviewed, (and hopefully present a complete drawing next time) although there are still no guarantees that a right turn into or out of Lawn Lane will be allowed. Which means that Academy  residents using the Academy Lawn Lane car park and approaching on South Lambeth Road from the west will still need to either complete a full circuit of the gyratory before turning back westbound into South Lambeth Road, or else continue onto the Kennington Lane/Durham Road/Harleyford Road triangle reroute, as will anyone looking to access Vauxhall Grove to get to Langley Lane. In fairness, Tfl are not keen to allow a right turn from South Lambeth Road eastbound into Vauxhall Grove because of the strong possibility of commuters/drivers using it as a rat-run to Harleyford Road.

It also appears that traffic doing a full clockwise circuit of the soon-to-be two way gyratory from Wandsworth Road or Nine Elms Lane will be able to turn right into South Lambeth Road heading west, but anyone approaching the right turn from Vauxhall Bridge/Bridgefoot will not.

There are also cycle traffic lights planned for the pedestrian crossing between South Lambeth Road and South Lambeth Place, which is great, although cyclists will not be subjected to a give-way at the entrance to Vauxhall Grove, which is not so great. Indeed, it’s an accident waiting to happen.

Take a look here for current and proposed drawing plans, and pay close attention to the traffic flow direction arrows:

Vauxhall existing

Vauxhall proposed sections

Plans for the bus garage are also unclear. Details of the dispersal of bus stops are available, and it is helpful that buses travelling past similar destinations will now be sited together at the same stops, but it’s not so good that the bus stops will be dispersed throughout the area. In addition, plans for the use of the green space (and the not-so-green space) in the middle of the gyratory are yet to be decided. The developer doesn’t yet know what to do with the land that they purchased, or if they do then they are not saying. On the plus side, they don’t seem overly keen on yet another skyscraper. That’s probably a commercial rather than aesthetic decision – the area is surely skyscrapered (I just made that word up) out.

It is all very complicated and not easy to précis, so please read the proposals thoroughly and attend the meetings if you can. Beyond that, write to Tfl if you have concerns,

Vauxhall Cross – As Are We

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The ongoing Gyratory abolition plans continue, although they are now at an advanced stage, with Tfl intending to start work on new road layouts in 2019 for completion in 2021. So far so good. However…….

To date anyone entering either the Lawn Lane or Langley Lane Academy car parks has had to put up with the nonsense situation that causes us to circumnavigate the world/Gyratory when travelling east on South Lambeth Road, rather than being able to turn right into either Lawn Lane, or Vauxhall Grove for access to Langley Lane. Similarly when leaving either of the two Academy car parks we have to turn left on South Lambeth Road and then find some way of doing a U turn back into the Gyratory if we are intending to travel east or north. Well, in their infinite wisdom, Tfl now want to compound the pain by blocking access to South Lambeth Road west from what was/is the Gyratory.  Instead they intend sending all westbound South Lambeth Road traffic via Kennington Lane and Durham Street and then back up Harleyford Road, onto South Lambeth Road. Which means that if you are travelling home from the west on South Lambeth Road you will be able to see your destination on the right as you pass it, but will then have to travel around the globe to get back to it, a journey that could take 15 minutes in rush hour traffic. You couldn’t make it up.

The full details are here on this link around P.27. Scroll down when you hit the page otherwise it looks like a blank link!

The key paragraph states, almost as if it is of no consequence, that for the provision of access for residents on Bonnington Square/Langley Lane (and equally Lawn Lane):

“Access to Bonnington Square will remain the same, via a left turn from South Lambeth Road to Vauxhall Grove then onto Bonnington Square. Egress arrangements will remain as per the existing highway arrangement.

There will be a change for traffic which will access Vauxhall Grove approaching from either South Lambeth Road south of Parry Street, Wandsworth Road south of Parry Street or Nine Elms Lane. Rather then travel round the gyratory to access Vauxhall Grove from South Lambeth Road they will need to travel around the Kennington Lane – Durham Street – Harleyford triangle to be able to travel south on South Lambeth Road to then turn left into Vauxhall Grove.

Seriously. None of that is made up. If you feel strongly about this, and you should unless you like sitting in traffic for no purpose other than the planners at Tfl don’t give a toss, then turn up at the consultations and say so, or at the very least make your objections known to Tfl.

There are public consultations on the following dates – please try to attend:
30 March 16.00 – 19.30 St Annes & All Saints Hall, Miles St, SW8 1RL;
1 April 12.00 – 16.00 Battersea Arts Centre SW11 5TN;
5 April 16.00 – 19.30 St Annes & All Saints Hall, Miles St, SW8 1RL;
8 April 12.00 – 16.00 Vauxhall City Farm SE11.

All Change

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Finally, after what seems like an eternity, it looks like we might finally see the back of the Gyratory. The plans to revert to single lane traffic, beginning in 2018 and targeted for a 2020 completion, together with proposed improvements to the surrounding area, look like a huge step forward for Vauxhall residents.

The Tfl proposals are here. The consultation period closes 17th January 2016

A big thank you to Councillor Jack Hopkins (his blog entry is below), and possibly even Tfl, who appear to have listened. Fingers crossed.


Goodbye gyratory. Hello a better Vauxhall

December 2, 2015

Vauxhall proposed sectionsFor the last half a decade, Vauxhall Labour has been campaigning for a better Vauxhall: a place where it is nice to live, where people will come work and boost our local economy, and where people will choose to eat out with their families or meet with their friends. For too long Vauxhall has been missing out as people travel to Vauxhall only to catch another bus, tube or train to another area. In the meantime, families living in Vauxhall have had to look out onto an ugly, noisy one-way gyratory – an antiquated system where cyclists continue to die and where pedestrians are forced to make several crossings across dangerous lanes of traffic in order to reach the public transport stations. Vauxhall can be better. Vauxhall will be better.

When I was first elected in 2010 existing Labour Councillors in Prince’s ward (Cllrs Mark Harrison and Stephen Morgan) had already been hammering TfL’s door down to make Vauxhall safer. When Jane Edbrooke and I were elected we joined the fight and made it clear that removal of the dangerous gyratory was the only option we wanted, not one of the 30-odd half-measure options put to us by TfL. It took us three years to get TfL to agree. And now we have an option which enables Vauxhall to be the better place it can be: removal of the gyratory to create a two-way system making it safer for cyclists and motorists alike, retention of a centralised bus stop station, shorter bus journeys, a safer and more pleasant environment for pedestrians, and a thriving town centre with shops and cafes at the heart of Vauxhall.

Removal of the gyratory is obvious. It’s unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians, it’s noisy, dirty and smelly – no one wants a six lane motorway with 1000s of cars and lorries speeding around all day long in their town centre. My parents-in-law think Vauxhall is great because it’s a great place to explore London from. If it wasn’t for my wife Jo and I, they would spend their visits to London eating out in Westminster: they would never have considered Vauxhall a place to spend their leisure time (and money), and Bonnington Square caféthe Riverside or Coriander would not have had a look-in.

The proposed scheme is a huge improvement for pedestrians. Taking out the gyratory and putting two-way lanes means that cars travel at much slower speeds and in a more managed way. Six extra crossings tames the traffic and makes crossing Vauxhall whether you are from Wyvil and want to enjoy Vauxhall City Farm or Ashmole Estate to go to the River.

Thanks to suggestions from KOV we have been able to push TfL to close an extra lane of traffic on South Lambeth Road and reclaim it for wider pavements. There will be a new ‘interchange square’ without traffic linking bus stops, the tube and the overground station. Albert Embankment will be widened and planted for a much nicer public space.

The bus stops will remain together which was something that local Councillors and communities were concerned about in the early days. This has been achieved by TfL and most of the bus routes will have shorter journeys. TfL have helpfully put all the new proposed bus journeys online here so you can check what your regular route will look like.

The proposed scheme is better for cyclists, putting in segregated cycling lanes on South Lambeth road and Wandsworth Road, where at the moment there is huge conflict with pedestrians. It also adds cycling routes from and to CS5 from South Lambeth Road down Miles Street, and added to the slowed traffic and introduction of two-way working, Vauxhall will no longer be a death-trap for cyclists.

Of course there are many for whom it doesn’t go far enough or compromises on their specific issue or for their specific geography. I know some who would love to see cars removed entirely, or for their side of the gyratory to be closed at the expense of more lanes on the other sides.

But as a local Councillor representing the whole of Oval and Vauxhall, the need to balance out and accommodate as many needs as possible has to be my goal. And ultimately it is TfL’s scheme and they are the ones who are going to have to implement it and ensure that such significant changes to the inner ring road do not adversely impact on the wider London road network. No one wants gridlock.

I would urge all residents, employees and those who visit Vauxhall to go to the consultation and give their comments. There are further details here

I believe that the proposal which TfL is currently consulting on is a good scheme and has many benefits. Of course change is incremental: it happens over time and at different paces. My Labour colleagues and I will certainly be fighting for more improvements going forward as well as making sure that the implementation of this scheme is done in the right way and provides what is promised.

For now, getting this scheme approved and seeing some very positive things happening in Vauxhall is one I will be proud to fight for.

See the plans here. And make sure that you get involved in the consultation process, that closes 17th January 2016.

Another Day, Another Gyratory Survey

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Another survey regarding the Gyratory. This one is from KOV but I suspect that Lambeth/Tfl will keep asking the same questions until they get the answer they want.

KOV Forum – Vauxhall Gyratory Transformation – Opinion Survey


There’s also a link to Tfl’s ‘Joint Vision’ update (I know, who writes this rubbish?)

Click to access 16e5aa_87be244b282f464d8d4d126220eb1259.pdf

Although, cynicism apart, there seems to be a glimmer of light that maybe our ‘joint vision’ is a little more disjointed than Tfl would have liked when they write:

Progress Update : Stage 2: March to Autumn 2014

• Initial modelling research indicates that removing the gyratory is feasible

• We are now developing a 3rd and 4th option – both include two-way working with viaduct widening and both contain bus interchange located centrally

• Improvements for pedestrians and cyclists being developed further

• Bus interchange options being developed and impacts on passengers assessed

Hobson’s Choice

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Gyratory options 1&2.jpg-large

Tfl would appear to be offering four options in respect of the Vauxhall Cross road/gyratory redevelopment. None of them retains the Bus Station. So much for ‘consult with the people’. That never works. Unless the people agree with the original proposals. In which case, democracy seems to work.

Gyratory options 3&4.jpg-large


Vauxhall Bus Station – Soon To Become “The Gateway To Nine Elms On The South Bank”

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This one is destined to run and run (as buses are won’t to do). Take a look at our earlier post on this subject. It’s a shame that the Bus Station and the Gyratory seem to be inextricably linked. It would be nice if we could keep the former but get rid of the latter. Anyone from the Academy who can cross in one attempt at the lights at the end of Langley Lane without breaking into a sprint to beat either a bus or an agitated half-wit on a Ducati who is desperate to accelerate to the next set of red lights 100 metres away (or even cyclists who think that the red lights don’t apply to them and that pedestrians trying to cross the pavement via the cycle path on South Lambeth Road are fair game) is clearly in training for the next Olympics in Rio.

Following on from the public meeting on 18th January, detailed in our post of 21st January, here is a letter to the Chair of the Kennington, Oval & Vauxhall Forum from Councillor Lib Peck, Leader, London Borough of Lambeth (no, I’d never heard of her either, she’s obviously very active elsewhere in the Borough, although no doubt she’ll be making frequent rash-like appearances around our patch for the next few months until after the May elections, then she’ll miraculously disappear again. Sorry, that’s probably a bit harsh. But no doubt fair). It would appear that we (that’s those of us who actually live in Vauxhall, as opposed to those making decisions on our behalf) want to, and I quote from Lib Peck’s letter, make Vauxhall  “the gateway to Nine Elms on the South Bank”. News to me, but it’s nice to know that we actually have a purpose. Not for us just living here and enjoying London, the river and our community. No, apparently we’re here to ensure that the incomers travelling from the far flung corners of the globe to live in their shiny new riverside flats for four weeks out of fifty-two have somewhere pleasant to pass through in their taxis from Heathrow.

Anyway, rant over, here’s Lib’s letter:

Letter from Lib Peck about Vauxhall Bus Station 

To the Chair of the Kennington, Oval & Vauxhall Forum

Dear Malcolm

I wanted to reassure you that the views expressed at last week’s meeting have been relayed to me, and I understand the concerns and priorities of your  members and others who attended the meeting.

I believe we share the same goals for  Vauxhall – to make it a thriving district centre and the gateway to Nine Elms  on the South Bank, underpinned by  excellent transport connections. This is the Council’s adopted planning policy. The question is, how is this achieved?

Transport for London,(TfL), is responsible for managing and maintaining the capacity on this strategic part of the road network in London, so the traffic interchange has to work, especially for buses. No changes can go forward at the expense of the transport interchange. There is considerable technical analysis underway to establish whether the gyratory can be made to work two way and to understand the consequences of achieving this, if this is what is ultimately agreed. The programme for this work was shared with KOV last week. There will be no final decisions in relation to this for several months.

TfL have advised the Council that the traffic modelling results, that will assess whether or not two way working is possible, will be available at the end of February. If it is possible, then we will look further at what that will mean for the design of the district centre and the interchange arrangements, including the bus station. As part of this process, we will be preparing a design framework for the district centre that takes the policy within the Vauxhall Supplementary Planning document to a more detailed level of implementation. Things are changing within the Vauxhall area, as we have seen from the new shops and restaurants that have come, now
that there is a wider awareness of the Council’s ambitions. This change will continue with the implementation of Vauxhall Square and other exciting developments that the Council has supported.

The workshop next week, (29th January), will provide a useful starting point for this conversation and will help shape future consultation. At the workshop we will be sharing the results of the traffic modelling thus far, what the volume of users by mode has been, and discussing the issues and opportunities that the district centre and two-way working present.

It is essential that full and meaningful consultation follows this first stage of technical investigation, and the council passed a motion to this effect at the beginning of last week. There is clearly a challenge to TfL, and  the Council, to demonstrate that any options or proposals will improve the existing situation, and not make it worse. However, I would also ask that you keep an open mind about the potential benefits that change might bring. These need to be articulated through the process so that everyone can come to a view.

Yours sincerely

Councillor Lib Peck
Leader, London Borough of Lambeth

The Bus Station – Should It Stay Or Should It Go (with apologies to The Clash)

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This, from the Vauxhall Society (well worth bookmarking for local residents –

‘A Manifesto for keeping Vauxhall Bus Station’?

18 January 2014

Kennington, Oval and Vauxhall voted by 80 to nil with 13 abstentions against doing away with Vauxhall Bus Station at a standing-room- only KOV Forum public meeting on 14 January.

They heard from officials of London Borough of Lambeth and Transport for London – and from the informal ‘Friends of Vauxhall Bus Station’ – that officials are working on only two main options for changing Vauxhall Cross. Both involve making the gyratory two-way, closing the bus station and dispersing the bus stops “onto the highway” – i.e. broadly back where they were before the gyratory was created. Voters were swayed by a presentation by TVS members Pauline Gaunt and Helen Irwin (see below) of the informal bus station group that amounts to a manifesto for a campaign to keep the bus station and possibly, in the council elections this May, to ditch councillors who support doing away with the ten-year-old bus station.

Also below is Martin Stanley’s account of the KOV meeting, to fellow members of TVS affiliate The Fentiman Road and Richborne Terrace Residents’ Association. Other interesting nuggets from the KOV meeting: officials have taken to dropping the ‘Battersea’ (which is in Wandsworth) from mentions of the Vauxhall, Nine Elms and Battersea Opportunity Area…. of the 18,000 ‘new homes’ promised for VNEB, 12,000 will be on the Battersea/Wandsworth riverside and only 3,000 in Vauxhall… the impression that, like Sainsbury’s at Nine Elms, Lambeth and TfL are now players in the property market. TfL already gets to build and run the Northern Line Extension, while both TfL and Lambeth could cash in if the bus station is demolished and built on.

‘No-one has ever been asked if they want to keep Vauxhall Bus Station’

Presentation to Kennington, Oval and Vauxhall Forum,
Tuesday 14 January 2014

Hello. My name’s Pauline Gaunt and with me is Helen Irwin. First we’d like to thank the Lambeth team [Alex Williams, Director of Borough Planning at Transport for London and Sandra Roebuck, Assistant Director, Neighbourhood Investment, London Borough of Lambeth] for the discussion time they’ve given us. We share their enthusiasm for an exciting new, improved Vauxhall.

Between us, Helen and I have clocked up 85 years of catching buses at Vauxhall. We believe a dedicated bus station is a vital part of the transport hub and should not be lost and many local residents have contacted us to agree. Unlike the Council, we think aspirations for ’improved public realm’ and ‘a vibrant heart’ can be achieved without compromising the bus station and the interchanges.

We also want to speak up for the people who rely on the buses every day but are not here tonight – people too tired, or busy, to go to meetings or fill in questionnaires, and the tens of thousands of commuters using Vauxhall who have not been consulted at all, and have no idea what Lambeth has in store for them.

Because the thing that has struck us everywhere, is that almost nobody knows what is planned for the bus station. Outside community groups and people like us who spend hours wading through reports, the almost universal response is ‘I didn’t know they wanted to do that – why?’ Even the management of Little Waitrose in Bondway didn’t know, and they are 20 feet away from the bus stops.

So how come so few people know?

Consultation on Vauxhall Cross has been going on since 2007, but the threat to the bus station has not got through to stakeholders. Apparently no-one thought of consulting the major users, the commuters, through leafleting at the stations or handing out questionnaires at the bus stops, or putting up posters in the tube, even though transformation of the interchange is at the heart of Lambeth’s plans.

Planners rely on feedback as a basis for the decisions they make but responses to questionnaires are woefully few. Typically, one in March 2012 elicited only 256 replies.

There are 45,000 passengers at Vauxhall each day so the conclusions drawn and the decisions taken have been based on statistically insignificant representation from the people affected. The form of questionnaires is also a problem. Planners never ask direct questions. No-one has ever been asked if they want to keep the bus station, or what they think are its best features. No-one ever said that support for ‘improved public realm’ meant a vote to lose the bus station. Instead they were presented with a series of uncontentious statements, avoiding the mention of any unfortunate consequences of adopting them, and then asking people to agree or disagree.

In the Draft SPD [Supplementary Planning Docoment] questionnaire there are ten statements, and oddly, since we’re discussing the future of the second biggest and most important transport hub in London, none of them refer to public transport.

The only one [statement] which is relevant says;’ I support the idea for a new district heart at Vauxhall Cross, with a new high street lined with shops and places to eat and drink.’

There is a space at the end for comments, but who is going to think of saying ‘but not at the cost of the bus station’ when it has not been mentioned.

Now Lambeth [London Borough of Lambeth Council] are not fans of the Bus station. You can search in vain in the SPD or anywhere else for recognition of the value that it has brought to people’s lives. Lambeth see it only as an obstacle to the creation of their Vision.

It is pointless to dispute in matters of taste over its design. It’s in need of some tlc [tender, loving care] and visual improvements, and better bus routes in and out, but I love it and think it is stylish and iconic. Lambeth think it gives the area a negative image. Clarks shoes thought it was so classy and distinctive they shot a major advert in front of it, and many of us see it as the best thing to happen to transport in Vauxhall since the Victoria Line was built.

So what are ‘The Virtues of Vauxhall’ ?

  1. PROXIMITY – No buses stop more than a few yards from each other or from the tube and train stations. The Council say neither they nor TfL would countenance a return to the pre-bus station situation. The fact is that stops which are moved to St George Wharf and other positions in the only schemes under consideration, are scattered around, far from tubes, trains and other buses.
  2. FULL CHOICE OF ROUTES – all buses going in the same direction stop at the same stop. This will no longer apply. In both options under consideration stops are split. Lambeth have decided this doesn’t matter. At the Jan meeting of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee it was noted that if some stops needed to be located away from Bondway in order to deliver improved public realm, significant overall benefits for bus passengers would be achieved. We disagree strongly.
  3. WEATHER COVER – walk under the canopy to every bus stop. Lambeth say the canopy ‘ doesn’t work as well as we think it does’. But it sure as Hell works 100% better than no cover at all. Users need protection to change between buses, tube and train without getting wet. Lambeth are ignoring this need because it hampers their High Street ambitions.
  4. SAFETY – all stops are contained on a single, easily accessible platform away from the circulating traffic. No roads to cross, no steps, good for wheelchairs and Mums with pushchairs, no long walks late at night changing routes. All the proposed new bus stops are kerbside, adjacent to moving traffic with all the road safety hazards that suggests.They will also be more polluted.

We know Vauxhall is one of the most polluted parts of Lambeth. There is a serious question to be asked as to whether it is right to move bus stops to the edges of major roads, or to designate a place within the gyratory as a venue for cultural and community events.

We’ve been talking to everyone we can at Lambeth and TfL for two years and have had endless re-assurances – you might have had some yourself – that all options are still being considered, that it is still early days in the process – but it isn’t early days. In planning terms it is five minutes to midnight. Lambeth began to consider constructing a High Street in 2008 – less than four years after the bus station was completed at a cost of more than £4 million. Since then all the planning has been predicated on the assumption that the bus station would go. The only options under consideration involve its demolition. Any future consultation will be solely about how the transport is fitted around the ‘vision’.

Ironically, the Property Market has given us a solution by offering us all the social heart Vauxhall needs a stone’s throw from the transport interchange and in a much better location.

  • First, within the planned new District Centre, the Little Waitrose is hugely successful.
  • The Council expect more shops to open in St George Wharf.
  • Market Towers, will have a large public plaza, a hotel and several thousand sq.m retail, all up and running by 2016/17.
  • Bondway Storage – another 1000 sq m of shops completed by 2018.
  • AND, right next door to the Bus Station itself, Vauxhall Square will have more than 3,000 sq m retail, two hotels, cafes, a gym and a 4 screen cinema – all around a pedestrianized public square safe from traffic and pollution and as big as Paternoster Square in the City. The developers want this to be a focal point for community events. Work begins next year.
  • Five minutes away – a new Waitrose in Nine Elms Lane with 18K floorspace opens 2015.
  • Sainsbury’s, Wandsworth Rd – rebuilt bigger and better– opens in 2015.
  • Then we have BT’s Keybridge House, and Lambeth Place with its swimming pool.
  • And along the Albert Embankment, all the arches under the railway are already occupied and new shops and cafes are planned along the river.

So what would Lambeth’s High Street, add to all this?

When people say they want a High Street it’s just a metaphor for more shops in nice surroundings, and that is what we are offered close by.

We have a once in a generation opportunity to have the best and most efficient transport hub in London, all within steps of an enticing new heart of Vauxhall which will be beating strongly well before Lambeth have had time to demolish the first bus stop. We must not bungle this.

Lambeth have a primary responsibility to protect and improve transport. They have allowed this to become secondary to their quest for ‘public realm’. The consultation was fatally flawed and they have no mandate to demolish the bus station.

The bus station is itself an essential civic space, together with the rest of the interchange, which commands huge popular support as part of a town centre, not just confined to Bondway but defined within the area around Vauxhall Cross.

Lambeth must now scrap the current timetable with TfL, which locks us into destruction of the bus station, and pursue a vigorous renewed consultation with all the stakeholders before any final decisions are taken.

Pauline Gaunt and Helen Irwin

Lambeth SPD

Preview of new Lambeth Council website, online 29 January

Vauxhall Bus Station: Lambeth and TfL ‘broadly back where they were before the gyratory was created’

From Martin Stanley, Fentiman Road and Richborne Terrace Residents Association

There was standing room only at the KOV Forum meeting on 14 January when at least 90 people heard presentations from Lambeth, TfL and the informal ‘Friends of Vauxhall Bus Station’.

The key message from the officials was that they are working on only two main options for changing Vauxhall Cross, both of which involve making the gyratory two-way, closing the bus station and dispersing the bus stops “onto the highway” – i.e. broadly back where they were before the gyratory was created. They distributed a briefing note which I will circulate separately. Two plans were attached to the note, describing the two options. One may be seen here, showing the bus stops on the Wandsworth Road and under one of the railway bridges.

The eventual formal consultation will compare at least one and possible more than one option with the status quo, but not one that includes a return to two-way working and retention of the bus station (or something better). The latter option “might come back” but that could only be as the result of “a political decision” taken by the Leader of Lambeth Council (Lib Peck) and the Deputy Mayor of London (Transport), Isabel Dedring.

Needless to say, this message did not go down very well with those present who voted c.80 to 0 in favour of not having the bus stops dispersed, with 13 abstentions from folk who wanted to hear the eventual arguments. The discussion was also, through no fault of their own, uncomfortable for the two officials who appeared to be in danger of contradicting these two assurances from their political leaders:

  • Isabel Dedring 14 January 2014: Can I just personally reassure you that there is no intention by either Lambeth or TFL to affect bus interchange (or indeed public transport interchange) negatively with this project at all.
  • Lib Peck 14 October 2013: We will not be returning to a situation where bus stops appear to be scattered throughout the area.
  • The stars of the meeting were Pauline Gaunt, whose presentation I will also circulate separately, and Kate Hoey MP who (a) was forced to stand throughout the long meeting and (b) asked the most penetrating questions, leading to the admissions summarised above. The meeting was very ably chaired by Malcolm Russell who, interestingly, began the meeting by bemoaning Lambeth’s failure to respond to the Forum’s numerous questions re Keybridge House – another hot button topic in our area.

In more detail: Sandra Roebuck, for Lambeth, and Alex Williams, for TfL, apologised that the Council had been so quiet since it published its commitment to a District Centre by adopting its Supplementary Planning Document in January 2013. But there is now lots to discuss about the future and there will be “full engagement” over the coming months leading up to formal public consultation in September 2014 which will “lay out options” (plural). All agreed that Vauxhall Cross is currently fine for buses and car drivers, but not OK for cyclists and pedestrians, and that the quality of ‘the public realm’ could be better. There is also the point that the whole VNEB area is attracting huge investment, and Vauxhall Cross is very complicated, so it is very difficult to accommodate all transport needs.

They circulated the two options mentioned above and thought that the technical analysis would be available by the end of February, after which options would be submitted first to the TfL Board and then to Lambeth before going out to formal consultation in the autumn. The reconfiguring of the gyratory would cost c.£25m but it was possible/likely that the modelling would show the need to widen the road under the railway which would cost a lot more. (A figure of +£50m had been mentioned previously, but was not repeated last night.)

It was not the case, they said, that Lambeth had consistently refused to have officials investigate the option of retaining the bus station – but (as noted above) they later admitted that no such option was being considered and it will not be considered without a clear political change of heart.

Various speakers and questioners then noted that ‘the design brief was wrong’; argued that it would not be possible to decentralise the bus stops and maintain a satisfactory transport interchange (this from an employer); and suggested that the ‘iconic’ bus station structure should be listed. A couple of speakers said that they did not want to endure the two years of gridlock that accompanied the last reconfiguration of Vauxhall Cross, and others expressed concern about the placing of bus stops along highly polluting main roads. Ross Davies asked whether TfL had plans to develop the bus station site once they had closed it. ‘Not at present’ was the answer.

Finally, we were promised that the eventual formal consultation would contain ‘clear’ questions and options, and that the draft document will be tested (i.e. on representatives of the public) before it is published. In the shorter term, discussions will continue at an invitation-only event on 29 January, at which your Residents Association will be represented.

Martin Stanley

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