Controversial plans to demolish the striking Vauxhall bus station and replace it with tower blocks are likely to go ahead after the government declined to block the developer.

Lambeth council approved plans to develop an empty plot of land next to the bus station back in 2013, but also to demolish the bus station as well to revamp the pedestrian space in the area.

However, the demolition of the striking and much loved landmark building sparked local protests, and an attempt to get the bus station given listed building protection failed in 2014.

Designed by Arup Associates in 2005, the 200m-long, stainless steel ribbon undulates alongside the railway arches. However,  TfL argued that the bus station’s location also impeded plans to revamp the road layout in the area to reduce road accidents.

Last year, the final scheme was announced, for two towers of 53 and 42 floors each, with a linked block at the lower levels — and the demolished bus station to be replaced with a smaller site and more pedestrian landscaping.

Due to the controversial nature of the plans, a public inquiry was held last December.

The Housing Minister, Robert Jenrick MP has now upheld the Planning Inspector report and directed that the bus station can be demolished.

The matter is now passed back to the council, although there is an option for appeal if the campaigners can find grounds to do so within the next 6 weeks.

The towers will contain a hotel, offices, shops, and 257 homes, of which 23 would be affordable, and funding given to Lambeth council to build around 54 more affordable homes elsewhere.

A rather more functional bus shelter will run along the road instead, and what had become a landmark for the area will be lost under what will be just another extension of the cluster of towers that are sweeping up from Nine Elms.

(images from the planning application)

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23 comments on “Vauxhall bus station set for demolition
  1. Chz says:

    It may be pretty (though I beg to differ there), but it’s hugely impractical. I’d rather they demolish it and build a bus station that works.

  2. MilesT says:

    It would be great if this striking station could be dismantled and reused elsewhere, ideally in a public transport context.

    Stratford maybe? Here East? Canary Wharf area? Waterloo? As part of redeveloped Elephant&Castle?

    • Hannah Renier says:

      I agree. Aesthetically, I see its good points, but I don’t like it where it is because its side views are either obscured by traffic or passed at speed, and ruin any sight of the Rowton House building on Bondway; and the approach to its forked end from the Albert Embankment is much too Albert Speer. It could look spectacular in a location like Stratford – which actually needs it; the bus station there is a mess.

  3. MilesT says:

    @Chz In terms of stations that work…unlikely judging by recent design requirements being imposed by TfL, in recent examples. See “Beauty of Transport” website for more info.

    A working station should be closely integrated into new development, to use the building for shelter and as a traffic generator (residential and ground floor small shop retail and restaurant)

  4. Nick says:

    Used to work near it, thought it was hideous

  5. Julian says:

    Regardless of any other considerations, someone must have spent a lot of money to have the existing ‘bus station built: would they have been so forthcoming had they known it would be open for just about 15 years? I wonder if there’s any cash claw-back clause.

  6. Niall says:

    Seems overly critical of what will be some exceptional Zaha Hadid buildings providing a mix of housing to an area that needs it though, a considerably better use of land than a bus station that was hindering public realm improvements as it was…

    • Michael Keane says:

      The privately owned part of the Vauxhall Island Site has been a green space for more than 50 years and it hard to think of a better use of the land in an a climate emergency. The public land will mostly remain a busy transport interchange as at present except there will be less space for pedestrians.

  7. Maurice Reed says:

    Like the new look front page 👍👍

  8. Melvyn says:

    Given its design and location I imagined James Bond parachuting from a helicopter and landing wearing skis on the bus station …..

    After all the bus station is in Bondway and MI6 is just across the road !

  9. John B says:

    I always thought the bus station annoying, buses looped round and round, holding you up when you wanted to switch to a train. It always felt quicker to aligt the stop before and walk in

  10. JP says:

    Impractical bus piste replaced with more towering curvy stuff yawn yawn.
    I mean Hadid no ill will (R.i.P) but they’re all a bit overt for overtness’s sake selons moi, her stuff.
    Also 53 floors probably have decent line of sight regarding MI6 and mebbe the embassy of the ambassador to the court of St. James too.
    As for the present shelter, well, it just isn’t one. You still get wet and I’d rather have the honesty of a bus stop pole. At least you know where the wind and rain are coming from with one of these.
    If we can remember using a bus of course.

  11. Sheryl says:

    Good, it’s a complete frigging eyesore. 😏🤦🏻‍♀️
    (Looks like a run way for Santa’s sleigh!! 🎅🏼🛷) and it’s also frigging useless, it leaks from the roof (if you can call it that) has no sort of wind protection and inadequate seating. The space between that and the road is also just wasteland that the homeless and vandals have made good use of. It’s a complete shithole and brings down the whole area. Only right the hundreds of developers in the area should pay towards building a new fit for purpose bus station…..

  12. Kennington local says:

    As a bus and tube user, rather than a dweller in the “rather attractive” towers that are blighting Lambeth, irrespective of the shitty traffic layout we need a centralised bus station that is safe and convenient to use. Comments about blocking public land use are interesting considering the juicy landswap Lambeth Council and it’s developer friends arranged to allow a bonus “attractive tower” to be built. Comments sections always attract pro developer property manager types commenting to make it seem like Joe Bloggs will really benefit from trashing a public amenity for the convenience of private developers.

  13. Vauxhall Local says:

    Kennington Local is right except that it is TFL, not Lambeth Council, who are involved in the ‘juicy landswap’ with the developer. Lambeth are just riding along with a deal that gives them the destruction of the Bus Station which they have sought for ten years in favour of a ‘High Street’.The landswap is exceedingly juicy for the developer, giving them a large amount of public land, at ground and sub-ground level in return for paltry gains. The pathetic new ‘bus station’ does not even keep all the stops safely together.

  14. Vauxhall local says:

    Juicy land swap, maybe, but juicy for whom? This is a transport interchange and requires a convenient, safe, secure and (so far as feasible) weatherproof place for us all to use. Bus station provides it all.. and is appreciated by those who use it. Who knows if planned flats will ever be built and who wants to live over a bus station? What evidence is there that shops and restaurants will materialise, given all the other locations coming on stream from Vauxhall to Nine Elms? Who wants three or more years of demolition, road works, transport disruption, with bus passengers consigned to the perimeters and long walks, with sub standard outcome at the end? Do any of the commentators above use buses?

  15. Another Vauxhall Local says:

    The bus station design wasn’t appreciated by everyone, but functionally it was very effective – Vauxhall is the busiest bus interchange in London, possibly in Europe, and this warrants a dedicated facility with all the bus stops in close proximity, appropriate lighting, staffing and weather protection. What we have isn’t perfect, but the proposed replacement is a significant downgrade.

    Unfortunately all maintenance of the structure has for some time been abandoned due to the expected demolition, leaving it leaky and unattractive as others have said.

    This nearly new and heavily used public amenity being demolished to build more ugly skyscrapers full of empty flats for absent billionaires is a sad indictment of the state of the country.

    • Williams119 says:

      Not an indictment of the country, an indictment of London. I doubt any local transport authority anywhere else would build a ‘landmark’ multi million £ bus interchange and then demolish it 15 years later. Most bus interchanges in the country are relegated to a few grotty bus stops under a 1960s shopping arcade / car park (if you’re lucky)..

      Other than that, well said!

  16. Michael Keane says:

    Ask yourself how it has come to pass that TfL own 37% of the land on which the development is to be built and yet are not receiving a single penny for that land. Furthermore, a large chunk of the planned £50 million to be spent by Lambeth and TfL on changes at Vauxhall are to facilitate a larger development and yet that additional public expense has not been taken into account in evaluating the proposal. The proposed land swap (a) does not included all of the land being used by the developer and (b) the parcels of land to be swapped are not of equal value. TfL chose not to appear at the Public Inquiry so were not available to answer any questions on the matter.

  17. Arista says:

    We need to retain a centralised bus station at Vauxhall. It shouldn’t be demolished, especially in these uncertain times.

  18. Suzanne Douring says:

    One year and 4 months after Lambeth granted approval nothing has changed, other than a small group of objectors wasting a year and 4 months of everyone’s time on a ‘calling-in’ exercise which not only validated Lambeth’s initial planning consent, poured nothing but praise over the whole project.

    I have read both the Secretary of State’s and the Planning Inspector’s report, and they are both dotted with glowing statements in support of the development, including: “outstanding… exemplary design”, “outstanding merit which would transform the immediate area and create excellent townscape”, “benefits of the Zaha Hadid Architects design”, “the excellence of the design is … palpable “, “the proposed height of the scheme is justified”, “powerful package of benefits”, “the consultation process was a “genuinely collaborative exercise”, affordable housing “exceeds the maximum reasonable provision”, there is “clear evidence” that Lambeth have delivered affordable housing through payment in lieu mechanism, the development is “exactly the way to meet housing needs in Lambeth”, “the development unquestionably supports, and is consistent with, the Government’s policies for building a strong, competitive economy”.

    Regarding those opposing the new, smaller bus station: “the bus station facilities consented seem admirable”, “that ship has sailed” etc etc, with the conclusion that the development is “of the highest quality and would successfully contribute to the planned cluster of tall buildings in Vauxhall”.

    The verdict is crushingly clear. And it comes as no surprise to anyone able to objectively and dispassionately assess the situation at Vauxhall Cross.

    Now let’s see if the small group of local opponents continue their personal crusades and attempt to hold up the development for another year by appealing against both the Planning Inspector and the Secretary of State.

  19. Camilla Hallinan says:

    What exactly are the plans for the NEW bus station? Why no images of that to reassure local tax payers, businesses, residents, and public transport users that Lambeth and TFL understand what’s needed and have our back?

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