Just before Christmas, Lambeth Labour delivered an unwelcome gift to the people of Vauxhall when the Lambeth Planning Committee voted unanimously to demolish the Vauxhall Bus Station. Jack Hopkins, Labour Councillor for Oval Ward, even came to the Committee to argue for demolition, saying he had been campaigning for seven years for this day.
The iconic Arup design, which is just 12 years old and cost £4million to build, will now be demolished and replaced with a smaller station and series of bus shelters. Evidence presented by council officials to the committee showed that the smaller area would mean overcrowding of the new facility at peak times.
For years the Lambeth Labour party have argued that demolition is necessary to facilitate improvements to traffic around the Vauxhall Gyratory System. However, the mask slipped when the planning application arrived at the committee - and there was no mention of the gyratory whatsoever.
What also wasn't mentioned was the land swap deal being cooked up between TFL and a private developer which will allow plans to build two new skyscrapers in the middle of the Vaxuhall Gyratory, partly on land currently occupied by the bus station!
More light might have been shed on the gyratory issue, had Lambeth Council officers asked for an environmental impact assessment of the scheme – a standard document on all major planning applications. However, council officers took the decision that the application to demolish the second busiest bus station in London, in an area beset with air pollution problems, would not require an EIA.
Again, this decision undermined the claims by Labour Party officials that the environmental improvements on the gyratory were a vital part of their bus station scheme.
Vauxhall Lib Dem Candidate for Parliament George Turner said of the plans: “Allowing the demolition of a perfectly good bus station that was built at great expense to the public purse is an outstanding piece of financial mismanagement from Labour.
“There is practically nothing the Labour Party in Lambeth will not stoop to to give a developer another opportunity to build a luxury skyscraper in Vauxhall."
Years of chaos
The decision by the Labour councillors will mean misery for bus users throughout the borough, as council officials admitted that it would take two years to rebuild the new bus shelters replacing the station.
The chaos is currently scheduled to arrive in 2019.
Labour letting down Lambeth residents
The Liberal Democrats have a long history of opposition to the plans to demolish the bus station.
In January 2014, then Liberal Democrat Councillor for Oval Ward Ishbel Brown tabled a motion to the council calling for a meaningful consultation on the plans, including the option to retain the bus station. Labour voted against that motion.
Kathryn Grant, Prospective council candidates for Oval Kathryn Grant, Stephane Croce and Mike Hillier have continued that campaign.
Kathryn said: “It’s a sad indictment of Lambeth Labour’s record over the last several years that when we inform local residents of Labour’s plans to demolish their bus station they aren’t even surprised any more.
"Lambeth has lost faith in Labour. Lambeth Labour are failing to protect our vital local infrastructure against rampant investor-led overdevelopment. It’s time to change this, starting at the polls on 3 May."