The Second part of our report on the Nine Elms – Vauxhall re-development deals with the section between Vauxhall Bridge and Lambeth Bridge, falling mainly in the Borough of Lambeth. We were given a presentation and guided tour by Chris Law, an architect and Director of Public Realm and Safety for this part of the project.
Firstly, the traffic hell that is the Vauxhall gyratory system is going to be redesigned, traffic calmed and made more pedestrian friendly. In fact the whole of Vauxhall Cross is going to become much more people-friendly, with a restored high street and a town square. This area is home to many bars and clubs, attracting a total of around 20,000 visitors a week and the project directors are keen to support this, not least because of its positive effect on the local economy. In fact local businesses are helping to fund this project by paying a levy of 1.5% on their business rates, so they obviously see it as a major boost to the area.
The park here, previously known as Spring Gardens, has gone back to its original name of ‘Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens’, an area that was popular with the Victorians for entertainment, and in one corner of the park a new art gallery will be built called the ‘Cabinet Gallery’. The linear park theme is continued from the Nine Elms end along this section of the development. In fact, there’s going to be a ‘Green Walkway’ running along the line of railway arches in Vauxhall Walk and Newport Street, joining the Pleasure Gardens with Pedlars Park and, at the far end, Archbishops Park, linking to the South Bank near County Hall. There was a competition for the best design of this walkway and we were shown some of the entries, including the winning one called ‘the Promenade of Curiosities’ – interesting! After so much walking we were glad to be able to rest up for tea and cake along the way at the Tea House Theatre, an interesting and unusual place which we’ll write about in the near future.
About half way along this walkway there is a huge building site and this place will no doubt become the main attraction of the whole area- the new Damien Hirst Gallery. Here, his private collection will be on display, including works by Francis Bacon, Jeff Koons, and Banksy among others. Three listed terraced houses have been refurbished and a new extension built on either side – projected visitor numbers are 300,000 per year! There’s no doubt that the Hirst Gallery can do for Vauxhall what the Tate did for Bankside. Incidentally, the Damien Hirst Retrospective opens at the Tate Modern on 4th April – got to see that diamond skull!
So watch this space for updates on openings and developments in this exciting project. It’s going to be an area where housing, culture and entertainment meet – if everything goes to plan the whole area is going to be transformed out of all recognition. SLB would like to thank Councillor Govindia of Wandsworth Council, Director, Chris Law and the project PR, Bea Bishop for giving us the inside track on this huge and ambitious regeneration project.