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Aside from our public meetings and responding to various major planning applications and other significant planning applications, here is what else has been happening at the Society:
 

Eden Street Mural


The mural can be found on the outside wall of the old British Home Stores [BHS] building in Eden Street, roughly opposite the Old Post Office. The mural was designed, modelled and installed by Maggie Humphrey, a ceramic artist from North Wales. It is a bas-relief, of 67 main pieces, made in glazed and fired stoneware clay. Its overall size is 2.75 m by 1.3 m [9 ft by 4.25 ft]. Commissioned by the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, it was unveiled by the Mayor, Councillor Frank Steptoe in November 1985. The top section shows Anglo-Saxon kings, of which two, and possibly seven, were crowned in Kingston. The middle section depicts the River Thames, an important part of Kingston’s history. The bottom panels show some of the buildings and characters of Eden Street, formally Heathen Street, described by George William Aylliffe in 1914, and based on contemporaneous articles in the Surrey Comet. More about two of the residents featured in the mural, John Slawson, a baker, and John Rowles, a chimney sweep, can be found in a history of Eden Street at www.kingstonhistoryresearch.co.uk The mural reminds us that Eden Street once had a much greater population, with far more diverse occupations, than today.

The old BHS building will be demolished in the redevelopment of Eden Walk. While the timescale for this is unclear, already some shops on the site are empty, and it is important that the new Council puts in place some plans carefully to transfer the mural elsewhere in the Royal Borough where it can continue to be enjoyed by the residents and visitors alike. The Old Post Office, currently being refurbished, has been suggested as a suitable place for relocation of the mural.

If you are concerned about the future of this public artwork, which is part of our heritage, please let Councillor Liz Green [Leader of the Council] and Councillor Malcolm Self [portfolio holder for Culture and Heritage] know this. Respectively, their email addresses are Liz.Green@kingston.gov.uk and Malcolm.Self@kingston.gov.uk 
I am grateful to Michael Davison for his help in preparing this article.

David A. Kennedy
 

Chairman's Message

AGM, January 2019

This is only my second full year in office as your Chairman & it has probably been one of the busiest that the Society has ever known.There has been an unprecedented number of things going on across much of the Borough -Tolworth, New Malden & especially Kingston town centre.   Not all of the work that my Committee discusses ,examines & comments upon is yet to be built or implemented. Some of it may never materialise, or it may change.. often in no small part to our influence at an early stage.
Firstly: several of our regular members have sadly passed away, & others find it too difficult  to come to our regular monthly meetings. The Society relies very heavily on its volunteers both inside and outside the Committee, which in turn defines what we have done in the past, can’t do, or continue to do. The Society -like the Borough- is changing rapidly, & we have had to make some significant changes.
To be more sustainable we are bringing in some changes which we hope you will support. The most noticeable so far is the way in which we communicate with our members. Our printed newsletter has now come to an end, to be replaced by the existing monthly emails which you may have noticed have more content in them now. For those not on email but who still want to keep in touch with what we are doing,  we will make something available in a printed format at our monthly meetings for you to take away. Clearly e-mailing our members is the way forward, but if you don’t have access to your own computer perhaps you have a friend or family member who is on email, & therefore it would be ideal if we could contact you through them. If you haven’t so far given us your e-mail address could you please let one of the committee have your updated e mail details if you can at the end of this meeting?.
As I said, the Borough is facing over the next few years what will undoubtedly be the biggest & most dramatic changes it has ever seen. By 2030 its population is expected to grow by around 33% [about 60,000 more residents] & evidence of the need to accommodate them can already be seen by the number of developments either coming out of the ground such as The Old Post Office site,& the so called “Queenshurst” in North Kingston, the conversion of the former Spillers’ office building in New Malden, the dismantling of Eden Walk, or the vast array of Applications which have either received consent or are waiting to be approved.
The Society has been involved in opposing many of these across the Borough not always with great success, but I think that it is a mark of the respect in which we are held, that we are nearly always consulted by the developers on our concerns & about our suggestions for improvement.
I could go into much more detail for the rest of the evening about many more of these proposals - which I won’t, but I should mention  the most recent & important are & in no particular order :
a scheme for around 340 new flats & a small element of commercial space on the HomeBase/Prince of Wales pub site on Kingston Road New Malden
the redevelopment of a site in Manorgate Road Kingston Hill for a large new Lidl supermarket [Application already in & being considered by the Council],
alterations   - so as to gain more flats - to an earlier scheme approved on Appeal for houses & flats on the site formerly occupied by the Hotel Antoinette in Beaufort & Fassett Roads, where we have been supporting a large group of local residents who are furious about what’s been going on!..
Regarding Tolworth town centre, we have consistently opposed many of the new developments - notwithstanding those already consented or indeed well advanced in construction - which are part of the Tolworth Area Plan. The Policies in this Plan promote around 1000 more new flats to be built in & around the centre of Tolworth.
Thanks to a last minute intervention by my Vice Chairman -Keith Payne - we were recently lucky in getting the Councillors to stall this plan for a 2nd reconsideration. Despite us having been on their radar for over 2 years, Officers filed to inform us that it was otherwise going to be approved on that night.
As an important aside here, the Council -both the new Administration & the previous one-  say that they want to get residents’ feedback on their concerns & suggestions There are 3 consultation events running at the moment, but personally I think that vast improvement is required.
I’ll give you a recent example : last week, sitting both as a local resident & as the representative of this Society, 5 other residents & myself [ all volunteers in various roles around the Borough ] were interviewed by the Local Government Association as part of what is called a “Peer review Panel”.The one consistent message that we all gave to the Panel is that: [1] the past & current Council was, & so far the new one as well, is very bad at communicating with its residents, [2]  trying to speak to or get replies from its Contact Centre is very frustrating, [3][ the current Website is not at all user friendly. So we all hope that this will change in the near future!
Finally I should mention that there is a new challenge being mounted by Caroline Shah a North Kingston resident. This is about whether a decision taken in 2016 & which was heavily supported by the Mayor of London & was agreed by the previous Conservative administration was legally allowed to promote the Borough to become a “Development Opportunity Area” under its so called “Direction of Travel” document?  She is as concerned as we are about the amount & nature of intense development facing the Borough’s residents in future; so she has mounted a petition against this idea. It is gathering momentum & I urge you all to read what this about.
Against this background we will go on assessing Planning Applications as they get submitted.
We also have Society representatives sitting on all 3 Conservation Area Advisory Committees & they too are facing difficulty in getting local people to step up to do the work of either Chairing the monthly meetings or being the Secretary of those bodies. This issue brings me to a couple of retirements within our own Committee: David Kennedy who has been our Honorary Secretary for many years & Terry Bowers who has been our Treasurer for about 14 yrs. We owe them both a huge debt of gratitude for all their hard work, so please give them a round of applause. We have had an offer from one of our younger members to step into the role of Hon Secretary, so we are hoping to co opt him & - if all goes well- he can start to take over from David very soon.   
And finally, some years ago when we needed someone to take on newsletter editor, after the sudden passing of Tony Leich, Marguerite Perkin stepped up, and produced her first issue of the Kingston News in December 2008, for which we were very grateful. and she has done so ever since. 

Anthony Evans

 

Tony Leitch Townscape Awards 2017

Our bi-annual Townscape Awards event in October was a great success.
You can read more about it here


 

An Urban Room For Kingston?

Photo: The New London Model at the NLA, The Building Centre © Agnese SanvitoThe New London Model at the NLA, The Building Centre © Agnese Sanvito

Members of the Kingston Society will be well aware of the unprecedented development pressures facing the borough. And yet there is no dedicated space where individual development schemes for Kingston or a strategic overview can be presented and communicated to the public. A neutral forum where residents can engage with planning proposals, and developers and the council can communicate and consult about their plans, seems desperately needed. This would ensure that residents can positively contribute to the changes to their neighbourhoods, and reduce the risk of bad developments happening. This is the role of an urban room; to provide a space where proposals can be discussed, ideas generated and plans developed. A model, virtual or actual, could help to give context and highlight possible linkages. Individual planning applications could be shown, with separate displays for large scale developments. It could also provide a rich educational resource for local schools and colleges. 

There are around twenty urban rooms in the UK both permanent and temporary, linked by the Place Alliance's Urban Room Network, www.urbanroomsnetwork.wordpress.com

The Kingston Residents Alliance and the Kingston upon Thames Society support the idea of an urban room for Kingston. Other potential supporters/partners are being approached, including the University of Kingston, with a view to setting up a working group to explore the feasibility of the proposal, and its aims and objectives, and what form a Kingston Urban Room might take. Those interested in helping to take forward a Kingston urban room are cordially invited to get in touch with Peter Karpinski at pkarpinski@blueyonder.co.uk