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ZHA wins appeal victory for controversial Vauxhall skyscrapers


Housing secretary Robert Jenrick has granted permission for a giant pair of towers in Vauxhall, south London, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA)

The £600 million Vauxhall Cross Island project was recommended for approval by the planning inspector following a two-day hearing in December.

The scheme was approved by Lambeth Council in late 2018 but was called-in by then-housing secretary James Brokenshire last May after campaigners and the neighbouring borough of Wandsworth objected to its scale.

The two towers will stand at 53 and 42 storeys (185m and 151m) while a connecting podium will stand at 10 storeys.

The scheme is ZHA’s first major mixed-use residential and commercial development in the UK and has been described as a ‘breakthrough project’ for the practice.

The scheme will provide 257 homes, including 23 affordable homes, while another 54 homes would be provided indirectly through a £30 million payment to Lambeth Council.

ZHA Vauxhall Cross Island 02 visual by Slashcube

ZHA Vauxhall Cross Island 02 visual by Slashcube

Source: Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects and Slashcube

The scheme will also contain shops, offices and a new hotel – as well as a new public square.

The planning inspector, John Braithwaite, noted that the towers breached the 150m limit set out in Lambeth’s local plan, but also said the limit had been discarded for other towers that will form the Vauxhall cluster.

Surrounding towers include Kohn Pederson Fox’s 50-storey residential tower and tp bennett’s 37-storey student tower

Meanwhile the neighbouring Vauxhall ‘ski-jump’ bus station with its 200m steel ribbon roof which runs along Bondway by Vauxhall station is set to be pulled down as part of plans to transform the ’abrasive and dangerous’ public realm in the area.

The station was designed by Arup in 2005 but has faced demolition under numerous schemes for almost a decade.

Under plans backed by the London Mayor and Transport for London the structure will be replaced by a bus interchange intergrated with the underground and railway stations at Vauxhall, designed by 5th Studio with Ramboll, JCLA and Mott MacDonald, which received planning permission two years ago.

‘Local residents would prefer that the existing bus station is retained, but they also seek the creation of a town centre with Bondway at its heart,’ added Braithwaite.

‘They can’t have both, because retention of the bus station would prevent Bondway becoming anything other than it is at present.’

The planning inspector concluded: ‘The proposed development, in architecture and urban townscape terms, would be of the highest quality and would successfully contribute to the planned cluster of tall buildings in Vauxhall.’

ZHA director Jim Heverin called the decision: ‘very welcome news, especially in these circumstances, and we greatly look forward to progressing this project to help deliver a new town centre in Vauxhall.’

Zha vauxhall cross view 07 171127 visual by slashcube copy

Zha vauxhall cross view 07 171127 visual by slashcube copy

Source: Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects and Slashcube


Readers' comments (3)

  • Somewhere in the roots of the Vauxhall mess is a spectacular failure of planning strategy in this part of London.
    Overwhelmingly evident in the oafish architecture of the first towers that sprouted alongside the railway into Waterloo, and carried on in the confusion of having to flatten a bus station that stands architecturally head and shoulders above most of these towers - and whose destruction is eloquent testimony to the fragility (in London, anyway) of the RetroFirst concept.
    And, incidentally, which embodies the inspirational style and brio of Zaha - glossy fenceposts or the doomed bus station?

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  • The silly ski-roof bus station is no loss.

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  • I travel through Vauxhall most days - or used too. It’s a mess- totally highways dominated, and apparently loathed by the bus drivers. Time to give it back to the people

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