Last chance to respond on Vauxhall and ditch the gyratory

As we enter the last few weeks of the Vauxhall Gyratory consultation I continue to encourage people to respond with their views on TFL’s proposals.

I believe that overall the scheme will be positive for Vauxhall, not just for existing residents and businesses, but also for the many thousands of new residents, employees and visitors who Vauxhall will be welcoming over the coming years. The gyratory is a throw back to a different era and as this city becomes progressively more pedestrian and cyclist friendly, I am pleased to have fought for its removal.

I wrote a blog at the start of the consultation on my thoughts which can be viewed here Improving cyclist and pedestrian safety whilst keeping the centrality of the bus-stops remains a key concern for me, and I continue to believe that this proposal presents the best option of achieving this, with properly-segregated cycle lanes on both South Lambeth and Wandsworth Roads and a reduction in car-driving speeds with the removal of the one-way system. The current multi-laned circuit makes Vauxhall feels more like a race track than a place where people live and work. Creating a living town-centre alongside the bus interchange is therefore also key, with wider-pavements, a new interchange square and other greening and improvements to public realm.

Thank you to the many people who have contributed to the development of this proposal so far, not least Lambeth Cyclists , not least their Chair, Charlie Holland, who has presented a constant challenge on how best to improve things for cyclists. Whilst not everything can be achieved in the short term, the point of democracy, consultation and involvement is to develop, to build consensus and to balance out viewpoints. With anything road related this inevitably means compromise between bus users, pedestrians, cyclists and drivers, no mean a feat when considering a huge move from a heaving gyratory to a multi-user two-way-way transport layout for modern times.

Thank you also to the significant number of residents who have copied me in to their helpful comments and suggestions on the scheme, which I’m sure will be considered and borne in mind by Transport for London. Particularly helpful are the points made on certain junctions, such as the way  St George’s Wharf residents will interact with the new Vauxhall, and also questions around how some left/right turnings will work in practice. There have been other specifics about bus stops under bridges and the relationship with businesses in the arches which need to be fine tuned, but the fact that they are being made means that my fellow Councillors and I can make sure that TfL assess and respond.

The Our Vauxhall scheme in particular is to be applauded as a constructive challenge proposing a totally pedestrianized South Lambeth Road as well as other potential improvements such as a station entrance at Cobalt Square building opposite the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. It has allowed the Council to push for changes and different thinking such as the extra lane taken out of South Lambeth Road and to push for Vauxhall of the future to be even more pedestrian and commuter friendly.

I look forward to seeing the results of the consultation and ensuring that the positive elements are adopted and those that can’t are justified and kept in mind for future change.

I received a number of emails over the Christmas period flagging concerns and asking for clarification on comments made at public meetings or on the local grapevine. I have responded to these individually but thought it helpful to put a couple of statements together to cover them so that fears can be allayed and rumours quashed.

–          Some were concerned that the Bus Station layout and existing canopy are not being retained, and that there was nowhere in the consultation to keep them. This issue was laid out in the previous public consultation, with the TfL evidence showing that two way working would require a changed layout to the bus station. However it was very clear from that consultation that a vast majority wanted to keep the bus stops together for convenience, ease of change between bus, tube and train and for safety reasons. As you will see from the proposed layout this has been achieved and what we will keep focused on is the need to keep space between stops covered.

–          Some people asked why the Our Vauxhall scheme has not been modelled and presented as something which they could comment on through the consultation. The closure of South Lambeth Road has been modelled by TfL following the previous consultation and the evidence shows that it would add too much traffic pressure on the other three Vauxhall roads. Whilst as a local resident I can appreciate the benefits of a new public space as has been proposed, the need to keep traffic flowing, bus journey times down and to ensure improvements for the whole of Vauxhall does not make this a viable option for TfL. I am also concerned about increased rat running through Bonnington Square and Langley Lane if South Lambeth Road were to be closed.

–          There have been questions about TfL proposing this because of an alleged property interest on the Island site and the desire to build two large towers. This is simply not true. The Island site is owned by private developers and has already received planning permission (under appeal) for two towers which is unrelated to TfL. TfL do own the land where we will be seeing interchange square as well as the bus stops, but what they intend to build is of very limited capacity and includes shops in central Vauxhall which people have been crying out for as long as I have been a Councillor in Vauxhall. The detail of this is yet to come forward as a planning application but of course the public will be able to comment and influence the design.

Transport for London have also responded to some similar issues raised here

The consultation closes on January 17th so please have a look and let TfL know how you think this will affect your commute to work, your feelings as a pedestrian, a driver or a cyclist and what more you want from your town centre.