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London’s transformation by transport

Niki May Young
Monday 06 Oct 2008

VTI2 to transform lifeless Victoria Street in latest regeneration scheme

For several years, Transport for London have been undergoing a series of advancements in London’s famous underground system to ease congestion, particularly prevalent in central London, and to make travelling in Europe’s largest city as comfortable as possible. But surrounding the internal developments of the labyrinthine underground network are those cropping up more visibly in the streets of London. A landmark design for Blackfriars Station which will once again abridge the station at either side of the Thames was revealed in September, similarly other stations including Shepherd’s Bush have been remodelled to accommodate the ever increasing stream of travellers through the bustling city.

But the latest developments in London’s travel lifeline are issued not in transport itself but in a trend for regeneration through transport. Part of the London Plan, developed under former Mayor Ken Livingstone in 2001, is the encouragement of high density building around transport nodes in the city. The concept is to reduce further travel horizontally and instead encourage those working and living in the city to climb vertically in commercial and residential towers based around key central stations, developed to cope with capacity travel. The latest of these to be revealed is the Victoria Transport Interchange, aka VTI 2.

A development by investors Land Securities, VTI 2 will occupy a 2.5 hectare site close to Victoria Station, the capital’s busiest transport hub with approximately 115 million passengers each year. Upon planning approval, a development of six buildings with office space, private and affordable housing, retail and leisure units will be created.

Richard Coleman, townscape advisor for the project said it will be a massive transformation for an important area close to Victoria Station: “Currently the interior of the site is dormant and of no urban value. The existing streets are underused because they go nowhere. The recasting of the area, with streets following desire lines, and very high quality architecture will serve people’s needs and pave the way for redistributing the bus station uses presently cluttering up the forecourt of the station which has more people using it than heathrow airport. The heights of the buildings are very carefully calculated, in consultation with the city council, to respect the setting of Belgravia, Buckingham Palace and views from the Royal Parks.”

The plans represent a similar regeneration to those presented in Renzo Piano’s London Bridge Tower, aka Shard of Glass. These schemes offer particular regenerative efforts due to a legal agreement, Section 106, which is created to protect areas where larger developments are planned. It allows additional development to adjacent areas which may be affected by the larger scheme. This system runs side by side with the London Plan in encouraging regeneration of facilities creating a balance between public and corporate benefits.

The VTI 2 development is a collaboration between world-renowned Kohn Pedersen Fox and the less known Benson and Forsyth and Lynch Architects who will design the residential aspects of the project. If planning approval is granted construction could begin in 2010. Land Securities plans for Victoria will continue with the submission of plans for approval at Selborne House on Victoria Street and Wellington House in Buckingham Gate in the coming weeks.

Niki May Young
News Editor

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