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Outcry after Lambeth votes to demolish Arup Associates’ ‘iconic’ Vauxhall bus station

Vauxhall bus station

Lambeth Council has been criticised after approving plans to flatten Arup Associates’ landmark bus station in Vauxhall in favour of a new scheme by 5th Studio

Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey has accused the authority of a ‘stitch up’ after it unanimously approved plans on Tuesday which will see the demolition of the £4.5 million Vauxhall interchange built in 2005.

The replacement scheme by 5th Studio will feature a smaller bus station, as well as the erection of a three-storey building at the north of the site. The latest plans follow on from a previous proposal in 2011 for a ‘linear walkway’ across the site. In 2013 Transport for London (TfL) also drafted in Terry Farrell to design a new high street around the bus station.

According to TfL, a new bus station is required as the existing structure would not allow a new two-way road system and public realm to be developed in place of the existing Vauxhall gyratory.

The approved plans also allow for a land deal to take place involving the neighbouring Vauxhall Cross site, which is subject to a separate proposal by Zaha Hadid Architects to build two towers on the site – of up to 53 and 42 storeys. 

The scoping study for the ZHA scheme, which at 185m would be one of the tallest in the emerging Vauxhall cluster, includes the southern portion of the existing bus station site. The planning application is expected to be decided in early 2018 and, if approved, the scheme could begin construction in April 2018 and open by 2022.

Speaking to the AJ, 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.’

A council officer’s report for the new bus station scheme stated: ‘The new bus station would provide a modern interchange that would accommodate growth in passenger numbers resulting from population growth in the opportunity area. The gyratory removal and public realm works fall outside the scope of this application as they would benefit from permitted development rights.’

Local campaigner George Turner, who was Liberal Democrat candidate for Vauxhall in this year’s general election, also criticised the decision, stating that the new bus station was beset by a multitude of problems.

‘There are so many problems with this application where do I begin?’ he said.

‘This is the second largest bus station in London in area, which suffers some of the worst air pollution in Europe, and it’s completely unacceptable to allow the application to go forward without any environmental impact assessment taking place.

‘It is also an astounding mismanagement of public resources. The bus station is barely 10 years old, it is functioning perfectly well, it cost £8 million when built, and they are rebuilding it with a smaller station.

‘What the real agenda is for this, I think, is the land deal which has been done on the Vauxhall island site. They [developers for the Vauxhall island] cannot develop what they have planning for with the bus station as it is. They are shrinking a bus station to satisfy an over-reaching and greedy developer.

’The council are saying it is about the gyratory but there was nothing to do with that aspect in the planning application last night.’

The Vauxhall Island site has been subject to a number of planning proposals over the past decade. In 2014 PLP was appointed to work up taller designs for the site with two towers of up to 200m.

PLP’s plans replaced previous designs by Squire & Partners for a 46 and 23-storey scheme. These were initially submitted in 2005 but took seven years to gain approval after Lambeth Council was initially unable to reach a planning decision.

A revised scheme, which reduced the height of the towers to 41 and 31-storeys, was eventually approved in August 2012 by then communities secretary Eric Pickles following a public inquiry.

Lambeth Council and TfL have been contacted for comment.


Readers' comments (6)

  • Some of us are actually very happy the bus station will go; which will allow to create a public open space plus improved pedestrian access.

    I don't understand what all the fuss is all about. Vauxhall is the UGLIEST area in central London; so hopefully this proposal will help.

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  • Outcry? Apart from outlier MP and bee-in-bonnet campaigner the sound you hear is locals cheering as at least one piece of the ugliest collection of architectural horrors in London is listed for demolition.

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  • The "iconic" bus station has always struck me as a meaningless, and functionless design. I explained to visitors that it was built by Saddam Hussein to launch a rocket at the MI6 building.

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  • Kate Hoey's opinions are invariably helpful if one is unsure which side of an argument to back.

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  • Vauxhall is a dump and the the bus station is practically the only decent thing thats happened here in the last 30 years. before it was built the bus system was chaos with bus stops all over the place and the new proposals will bring that back I moved here in 1988 well before it was built and all the development plans have been extremely poor if non existent with developers just having a feeding frenzy on the back of the embassy moving here.
    Local groups have been trying hard to put alternatives to the powers that be, but our voices have not been listened too. Kate Hoey is absolutely right this is about a stitch up with Lambeth council over the island site which should really be in the public realm and not given over to the kind of development that is being proposed at all.

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  • Despite the criticism of the (only 12 year-old) bus station, will the replacement serve public transport users as well - or not? And what happens to the notion of sustainability in London? Do planning authorities and politicians ignore it to suit themselves? (Greenwich / Sainsburys / IKEA is a recent case).

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