Fire boss talks tough about 15-year Albert Embankment debacle

The London Fire Commissioner has admitted in the 15-year saga of the redevelopment of the brigade's former headquarters on Albert Embankment represents "over 10 years of planning failure" and a lack of understanding of the needs of nearby residents.

Fire boss talks tough about 15-year Albert Embankment debacle

We reported last autumn that the fire brigade was embarking on its third attempt in 15 years to redevelop the site at 8 Albert Embankment – which includes Lambeth Fire Station.

At a meeting of the London Assembly's Fire, Resilience and Emergency Planning Committee at City Hall earlier this month, Conservative member Tony Devenish asked London Fire Commissioner Andy Roe for an update on the Albert Embankment scheme.

Mr Roe gave a plain-speaking response, and made clear the importance of upgrading Lambeth Fire Station to provide fire cover in a key central London location.

He said: "We're at a point where – as far as I'm concerned as London Fire Commissioner – we're at the end of the road.

"I inherited a situation where we had over 10 years of planning failure. That's the only way I can describe it. Part of that is about local interest, I think: schemes that were poorly conceived in terms of understanding local opposition and needs.

"We've got proposals now sitting with a developer. I'm getting good support from colleagues within the Greater London Authority around recognising that fire stations – like housing – are a community asset.

"So whilst we need housing, and I don't want to negatively impact the need for Londoners' housing, actually from my point of view I just need a fire station there.

"It is probably the most strategically important fire station in London. It protects the Houses of Parliament, all of the central government security zone, and thousands and thousands of very, very vulnerable residents back into Lambeth, one of the most populated places on earth.

"So my priority is actually to get the fire station rebuilt and I'm beginning to be a bit more overt about my demands around that.

"I respect the need to build the right number of houses in that space, but it cannot be done, I'm afraid, at the cost of a fire station, because I need the fire station."

Tags: Lambeth, Planning & Development, London Fire Brigade

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