Friday, 12 March 2010

Whatever happened to Vauxhall pier? (or when will Boris Johnson notice South London?)

Today I received a response from London Assembly member, Cllr Pidgeon about the historical representations she made re. a Vauxhall pier (once proposed outside St George Wharf), and the re-zoning of Kennington tube.  The tube re-zoning was covered thoroughly yesterday and can be summed up by saying, "Boris will not rezone Kennington or Bermondsey because the gainers would be South Londoners, and the losers would be North Londoners".

However, the matter of a proposed pier at Vauxhall has been rather forgotten, and deserves further investigation:

First, remember what Boris said about river trail in July 2008, when he was visiting Merton and Wandsworth:

"I was very pleased to have able to see for myself the opportunities that river transport can provide. The Thames is a great alternative to the bus or the Tube and fits very well with my administration's desire to see many modes of transport used to travel about London."
Secondly, remember what Boris said about river travel in November 2009 when he was Oysterizing the river:

"Our aim is for the Thames to become an integral part of London's transport network, which is why we're also working to provide clearer signage to the piers and services that are available, in order to make using the river much easier for Londoners and visitors to the Capital."
Clearly, Boris' river strategy does not seem to include putting Vauxhall on the river just yet.

Back in September 2009, Cllr Pidgeon raised, as follows::

"The LDA in the River Thames Pier Plan has indicated that a pier near Vauxhall Station as part of the St. George's Wharf development would bring significant advantages to the local area... while simultaneously reducing pressure on local [transport] services. Can you disclose (a) what progress, if any, has been made on facilitating the eventual construction of a pier at Vauxhall, and (b) whether discussions between TfL River Services, the LDA, the London Borough of Lambeth and the developers of St. George's Wharf have taken place over this proposal?
In his response, Boris disagreed that the River Thames Pier Plan indicated that a pier near Vauxhall Station would bring advantages (which makes me wonder about Cllr Pidgeon's choice of this document).  Boris quoted the plan here (see appendix G) which says:

"It is clear that public transport access to this site is already very good. The provision of an additional travel choice, in the form of commuter river services, would therefore bring about limited benefits, and is unlikely to be attractive in comparison with the frequency and journey times of the range of other modes available at Vauxhall Cross Interchange. 
The role of the pier in serving the leisure market is considered to be limited due to the lack of major attractions in the Vauxhall area. Leisure visitors travelling to London by rail are also unlikely to access the river via Vauxhall, with Waterloo station forming the most likely gateway into central London. Based on these potentially limited benefits for commuters and leisure visitors, the Pier Plan does not therefore advocate a pier at this location."
BUT... I went back and checked the River Thames Pier Plan.  What Boris didn't quote in his appendix, even though it's on the end of one of the paragraphs in question is:

"However, the potential role of River transport in serving the development proposals which emerge from Battersea/Nine Elms/Vauxhall Opportunity Area Planning Framework should be reviewed."

I can see this one working out really well.  What's the likelihood that nobody can secure funding for the Northern Line Extension to Battersea? Instead, somebody will have the bright idea that if we place a pier at Vauxhall and one at Battersea, we can transport commuters from Battersea to Vauxhall by boat, and then they can use the already over-crowded Vauxhall Station!

The Mayor's Vauxhall Nine Elms Opportunity Planning document says...

p97, "New piers to be provided within the OA at appropriate locations i.e. at Battersea Power Station"

On p117 (and following), maps are provided with various pier locations on them, including Vauxhall.  However, suggestion for a pier at Vauxhall is nowhere explicitly stated in the document.

Waiting for the Nine Elms expansion is not satisfactory.  We're already looking at over-crowding at Vauxhall Underground station, which would indicate commuter demand is very high.  Additionally, the current expansion of residential developments on the Albert Embankment would mean that the pier proposed at Embankment Park Plaza Hotel could be built long before Nine Elms gets off the ground.  When is Boris Johnson going to notice South London?


Anonymous said...

it would be good if this blog attempted political impartiality. Obvious prejudice as demonstrated by the heading of this post is dull.

SE11 Lurker said...

Oh, I do /try/ political impartiality. I'm just not very good at it!

Mark L said...

I'd suspect if a mayor of any political colour was this hopeless, they'd come in for equal criticism :)

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