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Campaigners demand communities secretary calls in ZHA towers scheme

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Opponents of Zaha Hadid Architects’ (ZHA) plans for two skyscrapers proposed for Vauxhall Cross have written to communities secretary Sajid Javid, asking him to call in the application

Yesterday (17 January), the practice defended itself against accusations that the two towers of 53 and 42 stories, backed by Channel Islands-based developer VCI Property Holding, were too big for the site.

However, two members of the Save Vauxhall Bus Station campaign group have written to Javid, asking him to intervene in the application process, along with a linked permission to demolish Arup Associates’ landmark bus station in Vauxhall in favour of a new, smaller scheme by 5th Studio.

In their letter, campaigners Pauline Gaunt and Helen Irwin, said: ‘These schemes are inextricably interdependent, but Transport for London (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.

‘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 the bus station to developers, have been completed behind closed doors and without public discussion.’

They said that the decision on the bus station application was made without reference to the ZHA plans and ‘without consideration of its implications for traffic flows across London’.

In the letter the campaigners call for a face-to-face meeting with Javid to ‘explain the issues in more detail and to provide extensive documentary back-up for our assertions, which we know will be refuted by Lambeth and TfL with all the professional forces at their disposal’.

In December, after the bus station replacement plan was approved, Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey said: ‘The two applications are being looked at separately and I don’t think the public, particularly those living outside London, have picked up on the fact that the bus station is being demolished. Apart from two or three years of construction the new station, though it may look pretty, does not have the same convenience as the current scheme.

‘It is a stitch-up between Lambeth and TfL to get this approved.’

Yesterday, ZHA defended its proposals, with director Jim Heverin saying: ‘There is a lot more density coming into this area. Our project fits within a masterplan that has been looked at by TfL.’

Explaining Lambetyh Council’s position on the bus station,  Matthew Bennett, the borough’s cabinet member for planning, regeneration and jobs, said: ’This is a really exciting transformation for Vauxhall. Removing the gyratory is a long-standing ambition of both local residents and ward councillors.

’Removing the gyratory is a long-standing ambition of both local residents and ward councillors’

‘The new design, with a clearer layout, a public square and landscaping won’t just make the centre of Vauxhall a destination in its own right, but will be better for pedestrians, cyclists and the thousands of people travelling through the area by train, bus and tube.’

TfL has also been contacted for comment.

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