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"Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?"

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Will the destruction of Vauxhall bus station be a worthwhile sacrifice?

Vauxhall Cross and Bondway Bus Station copyright Bill Hicks
War of the worlds architecture always helped make your trip on the 77a to Tooting Broadway all the more interesting…but what will replace this strange and rather beautiful construction?
Totally torn by news in our Co-operative Council's monthly freesheet - Lambeth Talk - re the future of Vauxhall bus station.

According to the somewhat depleted free local government propaganda sheet, the planned redevelopment of the Vauxhall Cross area has been given a big "thumbs-up" by the electorate.

Now it does not take much planning knowledge to realise the this area is a vital gateway to the as-yet unfinished Nine Elms development - all those new residents are join got need slick new routes along which to drive their lovely Audis etc to and from their city or Canary Wharf jobs.

Sorry, a bias leaks out…so, back to the Lambeth/Transport for London plans, and back to the great idea that the traffic around this nightmare junction of major routes from five, no six big directions needs taming. It is at the moment a hideous racetrack, but with an oasis of calm and public transport beauty at its heart - Vauxhall Bus Station. This was re-built at massive cost in 2004, yes just a decade ago. And already it looks like a design classic of its strange times.

The new plans will involve scrapping the current one-way gyratory system and re-locating the many bus stops on both sides of the once-again two-way streets of the junction.

It's a strange call for many of us who have gradually come to love this weird construction of space-age aluminium ramps and weird metallic extrusions --- it is a good enough place to wait for a bus to any part of the city, but would be even better if there were free public loos and a decent café. The whole place seems to have been inspired by those silver Airstream trailers so beloved of Hollywoood  film stars. But it is beautifully executed, quite entertaining, and is also apparently eco-friendly as those crazy ramps leading nowhere  are actually covered in solar panels.

What exactly will the new plan bring? i tried to check the Lambeth website but access to this page:
http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/planning-and-building-control/vauxhall-spd/transforming-vauxhall-guide
 was denied.

Anyway it doesn't matter at all because -according to the aforementioned free sheet - "63 per cent support" for "proposals to redesign the existing bus station, providing safer, more attractive and more accessible facilities…."

So, that must be the killer - and I should shut up. All will be for the greater public good. Lambeth will fight for all our rights right to the bitter end, no worrying…

But meantime, I will be sad to lose that weird thrill I occasionally got of an autumn morning, seeing those silver ramps heading skywards, the gleaming buses churning their way through the tunnels, around and the Roman-style circus maximus track and back on the Cross and up and away over the bridge…

Somehow buses ruled in those days. Will they still rule in 2020?

Here's what I liked...


Tfl 's Vauxhall Bus Station: only 10 years old, and already facing demolition

Vauxhall Cross (Bondway) Bus Station, London: only 10 years old, and already facing demolition









Catch it while you can - Vauxhall's space-age bus station is soon to be replaced with a far
more boring (and yes, maybe safer and more sensible) structure as part of the Vauxhall-
Nine Elms redevelopment plans.
Photos: Bill Hicks






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