For many years I’ve been campaigning for a better Vauxhall: a place that is nice to live, where people want to come to work and boost our local economy, and where families choose to visit or friends meet. For too long Vauxhall has been missing out as people stop only to catch another bus, tube or train. In the meantime pedestrians battle to cross the dangerous, noisy gyratory and cyclists risk their lives.
Now, TfL is consulting on an option which enables Vauxhall to be the thriving riverside town centre we want it to be. This represents a £50 million investment and could mean work starts in 2018.
Despite some short-term pain and disruption, I think it’s obvious that removing the Vauxhall Cross gyratory will make Vauxhall better and that most local residents and businesses agree – no one wants a six-lane motorway with 1000s of cars and lorries speeding through their town centre, especially given the growth of this area as a business district.
I would urge all residents, employees and visitors who want to see a better Vauxhall to have their say by filling out the TfL consultation. There isn't much time - it closes on 17 January 2016.
The proposals will make the area better for pedestrians. Traffic will be slower and the number of lanes will be reduced. Eight extra crossings will make it easier to get around whether you are from Wyvil and want to enjoy Vauxhall City Farm or go from Ashmole Estate (where I live) to the river.
Thanks to suggestions from Kennington Oval Vauxhall Forum (KOVF) we have been able to push TfL to close an extra lane of traffic on South Lambeth Road and reclaim it for wider pavements. There will be a new ‘interchange square’ without traffic, linking bus stops, the tube and the overground station. Albert Embankment will be widened and planted for a much nicer public space.
The bus stops will remain together, which was something local councillors and communities were concerned about in the early days. This has been achieved by TfL and many of the bus routes will have shorter journeys. You can check out what your regular route will look like here.
It’s also better for cyclists. Segregated cycle lanes on South Lambeth Road and Wandsworth Road would reduce conflict with pedestrians. It also adds cycling routes from and to CS5 from South Lambeth Road down Miles Street. Added to the slowed traffic and introduction of two-way working, Vauxhall will no longer be a death-trap for cyclists.
Of course there are many for whom it doesn’t go far enough, or compromises on their specific issue or their specific geography. I know some who would love to see cars removed entirely, or for their side of the gyratory to be closed at the expense of more lanes on the other sides.
But as a local Councillor representing the whole of Oval and Vauxhall, the need to balance out and accommodate as many needs as possible has to be my goal. And ultimately it is TfL’s scheme and they are the ones who are going to have to implement it and ensure that such significant changes to the inner ring road do not adversely impact on the wider London road network. No one wants gridlock.
Of course change is incremental: it happens over time and at different paces. My Labour colleagues and I will certainly be fighting for more improvements going forward as well as making sure that the implementation of this scheme is done in the right way and provides what is promised. We will be pushing TfL hard on a few things:
- Making sure the junctions and crossings really work for pedestrians, especially around the Royal Vauxhall Tavern and where Parry Street meets South Lambeth Road.
- Making sure local roads aren’t negatively impacted by extra traffic and that they don’t become rat runs. TfL will need to continually monitor and put necessary measures in place to prevent this.
- Revisiting, when the time is right, the removal of the Kennington Lane and Harleyford Road one-way system.
- Providing a better bus station with modern, state of the art facilities - look out for the detailed proposals later in the year.
Finally, we are committed to ensuring that the phasing and timing of construction is planned and communicated with residents, commuters, workers and businesses to minimise disruption.
For now, getting this scheme approved and seeing some very positive things happening in Vauxhall is something I will be proud to fight for.
Cllr Jack Hopkins, Cabinet Member for Jobs & Growth