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”.
Please support your local paper by making a donation
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.