Archive for November 15th, 2008



The House of Commons had a debate on the expansion of Heathrow Airport on Tuesday.  Kate Hoey intervened briefly to raise the issue of noise in our area:

I am sure that the hon. Lady would agree that it is not just people who live near Heathrow who are affected by the flight patterns and by noise. Many of my constituents who live in Vauxhall, Oval and Stockwell write letter after letter trying to get something done about their early morning wake-up call. They have made it very clear indeed that they do not want another Heathrow runway until that problem has been sorted out, and that has certainly not been done yet.

It was a six hour debate – you can read the full blow by blow version or just watch the show.  If you don’t want to wade through all of that, there was a good summary in Wednesday’s Independent of the issues and where people stand on them.

Curiously, the proposed new runway might not make much difference to us:  most of the Heathrow traffic we see is because if you draw a straight line out from the current northerly runway, it goes pretty much through our back gardens – and many of the planes which are going to land on that runway are established on that line by the time they get to us.  The equivalent line from the southerly runway goes roughly over Clapham North station and that from the proposed third runway would go somewhere just north of Vauxhall Bridge.

There is a certain grim fascination in watching the paths flights actually take, which you can do on this site set up by BAA.  The picture at the top of this post shows the planes flying over us at 0909 on Wednesday this week

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Lambeth Council has produced a draft Vauxhall Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), which was published in July, and is open to consultation until 15 December.  It’s a long and detailed document covering the area from Lambeth Bridge in the north down to Wyvil Road in the south.  The plan is seeking to encourage significant redevelopment in the area, though recognising that this would add further pressure to already stretched transport services.

Draft Vauxhall SPD coverThere are some curious details – a photograph looking south along South Lambeth Road labelled as looking north, another of the Strand, which is gridlocked for much of the day, presented as an “example of a quality street not compromised by high traffic volumes”, enough typos to suggest that it was put together in slightly too much of a hurry, and quite a lot of repetition.  But there is also quite a lot of systematic thinking about how the area might develop, with a pragmatic realisation that implementation might take 15 years.

There is an online questionnaire which goes with the draft plan and which is worth answering even if you can’t quite face the 111 pages of the SPD itself – it’s pretty straightforward and should only take a few minutes to complete.  One or two of the questions have a pretty strong slant – the two options for answering a question on tall buildings are:

  • Tall buildings should form a cluster around Vauxhall Cross (Vauxhall Heart)
  • Tall buildings should be allowed anywhere in Vauxhall

Not having tall buildings is apparently not an option, despite the transport pressures and visual intrusion they would create, though to be be fair there is an “other” category which provides space for alternative answers.

There are public exhibitions about the plan in several locations over the next few weeks, with details on the consultation web page.

Thanks to Andrew Orange of the Tradescant Road & South Lambeth blog for spotting the documents on the Lambeth website.

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