The South Bank Forum took place last night at Coin Street neighbourhood centre. The agenda covered a broad range of local issues including developments and bus routes.
The public meeting was chaired by Kate Hoey, MP for Vauxhall. She was joined on the panel by two Southwark councillors for Borough and Bankside, Adele Morris and David Noakes, and Lambeth councillor for Bishops ward, Kevin Craig. Neil Coyle, MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, sent his apologies.
Waterloo City Hub project update
This proposal by TfL and Lambeth Council to transform the Waterloo roundabout road area was first on the agenda. As the forum took place, TfL were holding the second of two drop-in events at St John’s church and cited this as a reason for not attending the forum. The drop-in events aimed to provide residents information of the changes TfL have made to the proposals since initial consultation in 2017.
Head of Area Regeneration for Waterloo and Streatham at Lambeth Council, Owain Jones, provided an update from the council’s perspective. He confirmed that TfL will not be submitting a planning application until the summer, allowing time for a full consultation. A point of contention has been the right turn into Stamford Street being banned under the proposals which has caused unrest amongst local residents. Mr Jones confirmed that traffic count data has been collated and will be deliberated between TfL and Lambeth Council to decide how best to proceed. In addition, local residents who are affected by the ban will be consulted with.
There was some unrest in the audience about the proposals and many felt that TfL are ignoring their concerns. Residents in the crowd commented on building disruption, pollution and traffic levels. Ms Hoey highlighted the importance of Lambeth Council in the process. She said the council are not only a conduit for raising residents’ concerns to TfL but also hold the power to ensure proposals only go ahead if residents are satisfied.
Future of the RV1 bus route
Mr Noakes gave an overview of the campaigns and petitions that have taken place to save the RV1. After reducing the service by half in 2018, TfL then announced it would be scrapped entirely. Residents rely on the eco-friendly hybrid bus that runs through Waterloo and the South Bank. He stated that data shows there has been an increase in passengers on the service in 2019 and despite TfL’s claims it a tourist bus, it is also a vital resource for locals. A TfL consultation into the future of the service (and many other London bus routes) closed in November 2018 and they are due to publish their next steps imminently.
South Bank Public Realm Framework and ‘Spine Walk’
Finally, Mr Jones updated on two key projects being undertaken by Lambeth Council. He confirmed the draft Waterloo and South Bank Public Realm Framework is now open for consultation until 6 May. This framework identifies investment and improvement priorities across Bishop’s Ward, Lambeth. Mr Jones outlined six principles the framework is based on and highlighted the need to meet the local, metropolitan and global usage of the ward. There are four priority projects in the framework including pedestrianising Sandell Street for which funding has already allocated. Mr Jones shared photos of this design and confirmed work should start later this year subject to public consultation.
The second point covered repairs and improvements to the South Bank’s ‘Spine Route’. Mr Jones confirmed that a tender is now out to source master plans. There was some concern from the audience that they just wanted the route repaired and Ms Morris pointed out that plans had been drawn up for this many years ago. Mr Jones confirmed previous plans did not have a suitable technical evidence base underpinning them and that using those plans to carry out the work would be a poor use of taxpayers’ money. There was back and forth between residents with some describing the situation as ‘outrageous’. Mr Jones ended the night positively and confirmed that £5 million has been allocated to the ‘Spine Route’ and that the Chief Executive of Lambeth Council has made repairing the route a key priority.
South Bank Forum is run by South Bank Employers’ Group (SBEG) on behalf of the South Bank Partnership. The Forum is for residents of Waterloo, Blackfriars and the South Bank and meets three or four times a year. The next meeting will be in June. You can follow the forum on twitter: @southbankforum