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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:

Chairman's Message

August 2017

I would like to welcome our new members, as well as those who have been loyal supporters of the Society for many years.

You will no doubt enjoy reading the tribute which Michael Davidson has written in the latest ediditon of our Newsletter to the sad passing of ‘Dougie’ Reynolds, one of the Society’s most loyal members. But I also wanted to reflect my own thoughts about this extraordinary man. At the recent memorial service held in All Saints Church, we were told that he always put others first, and was to all who knew him a man of steadfast principles, and the first Labour RBK Councillor to become Mayor. He was the embodiment of someone who spent much of his life trying to help others with no thoughts for himself. If you listened to the Full Council meeting last year, we were told that residents like many of us are going to have to become more involved in helping the Council in delivering some of its key services for no financial reward. Dougie Reynolds was somebody who had been doing so for at least the last 50 years of his life. Current Councillors would do well to remember that this idea is nothing new!   

Its becoming common practice that we are now regularly consulted by developers on various proposals before they go out to a wider public consultation. In the last few weeks we have been shown the redevelopment, with new flats and office space, for the Surrey House site on Eden Street to which we have already objected strongly on the grounds of it lacking clear detail, it being too high especially on the corner of Eden and Brook Streets, its complete lack of any meaningful public realm improvement, and the inability to remove the hideous multi storey car park which blights part of Brook Street, amongst many other points. 

We have been invited to meet in a few weeks’ time to have a detailed look at CNM Estate’s plans for the redevelopment of the Sitel building and the Canbury Park industrial area. As you may know CNM is already refurbishing the adjacent Regal Cinema and now want to build around 300 new flats, new offices and units for small “start-up” business, along with new landscaping and plans to repave/landscape some of Canbury Park Road. The existing NurserySchool on Cowleaze Road may be re-built elsewhere if CNM can find a suitable site. Otherwise it will remain. 

You read below an account of a Kingston Futures Conference held in the Rose Theatre on 27th June to which I was invited. In my opinion this was a fantastically expensive exercise with a normal ticket price of £350 (luckily the Society was given a free ticket!), which was attended by all of the usual players already building/developing in the Borough, e.g. Berkeley Homes, CNM etc, who don’t need any more persuasion to invest in the Borough. In the afternoon what promised to be an interesting discussion was cut short before I could challenge some of the discussion by a full scale fire drill, after which there was no time to re-start the debate. What horrified me was that the Council sent about 15 Officers (with all sorts of fancy and weird titles) on this exercise which seemed rather ‘over the top’. 

Your hard working Committee continues to ‘plug away’ at trying to get the best designs and outcomes from the real plethora of new developments that are facing residents. Most of them are predicated on the alleged increase in the population of Greater London in the next 15 years (for Kingston this will mean around 30% more residents than now) and the suggested building of Crossrail 2, again in the next 15/20 years’ time which will affect virtually all the stations and forever change the face of this Borough.

Anthony Evans


Kingston FUTURES Conference

The Kingston Futures Conference 2017 was held on 27th June at The Rose Theatre in Kingston.

Delegates from a number of different industries, all with a vested interest in Kingston, met to discuss the future of the borough. Charlie Adan, Chief Executive of the Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames, asked delegates to focus their thoughts on delivering “good growth” to Kingston in order to bring the prosperity, jobs, homes, and infrastructure required for the borough’s residents to lead fulfilled lives. She also asked delegates to consider the unique opportunities available in Kingston, and its unique place as a “crossroads between capital and countryside.” Many interesting points were made in the panel discussions that followed. -- “good growth” had to mean “appropriate growth,” pushing the idea that when making plans for Kingston’s future, delegates should first seek to understand Kingston and its unique character, rather than applying a general blueprint for growth that could be used anywhere. Councillor Kevin Davies (RBK) said that “reinvigorating” Kingston must “not mean it loses any of its character.” Another delegate emphasised the importance of civil engagement, saying that both talking and listening to the public was key, and that consultations should start at the very earliest stages of any project. 

-- Panellists were largely in agreement that so called “affordable housing” is not actually affordable at all. Lucy Owen (GLA) stated that 80% of market value is still not affordable to most people. Panellists agreed that more housing was the 7 solution, but that this would mean an increase in density of housing, which the public would need to be sold on. Councillor Davies said that this could be done by making the public realm offering “as magnificent as it can be.” 

-- Chris Curtis (Crossrail 2) described how the new rail ink would transform Kingston’s connectivity, bringing the borough closer to the core of London’s economy and opening up countless avenues of opportunity. Nine Crossrail 2 stations are planned within the borough, far more than anywhere else, and Kingston stands to benefit massively from the project...Crossrail 2 could be the answer “not just to the borough’s transport issues, but to its housing and economic issues also.” In a poll of delegates, 98.43% supported lobbying in favour of Crossrail 2. Panellists were also keen to point out that local travel is also critical to good growth. John Barry (TfL) stated that Crossrail 2 wouldn’t matter unless we can also deliver good car, bus, bike, and walking projects to go alongside it.

-- Kingston’s excellent retail offering was lauded, with the panellists agreeing that Kingston has everything in terms of shopping and just needed to get the message out a bit more. Robert O’Dowd (Rose Theatre) summarized this in saying Kingston was “Westfield without the roof” and needed to be promoted as such. 

-- Kingston’s rich cultural and historical heritage was also discussed, with Jo Skliton (BNP Paribas) saying it was good enough to deserve equal billing with the borough’s retail offering. Again, panellists asked for delegates to make more noise about what Kingston can offer. Kingston “has a lot of best kept secrets that shouldn’t be secrets.” 

-- Panellists agreed that what needed most attention was Kingston’s business offering, saying that the borough simply didn’t have enough office space and so would struggle to attract business from outside and keep those businesses already operating within Kingston...“affordable workspace” was paramount to building the attractiveness of the borough and building its brand. 

-- Darren Richards (GLA) spoke about how Kingston is a well positioned suburb which is “ripe for development” and how Crossrail 2 would be used as a springboard for this development. He also mentioned the need for new office space, noting that none had been built within the borough for over 20 years. 

-- Shabnam Ali (RBK) surveyed Kingston’s economic growth strategies in an effort to understand the thinking which will inform Kingston’s designs for good growth. She also said that Kingston University is a bastion of entrepreneurship, since the university has had more start-ups develop from its alumni over recent years than any other university in the UK, and how it was important to connect with these entrepreneurs and make every effort to keep their operations within the borough. 

-- there was a debate on Kingston’s business strategies and the tactics needed to provide a healthy mix of commerce, attract occupiers, and create new jobs. Bob Cattaneo (Cattaneo Commerical) stated that the low amount of office space in the borough was “a considerable problem.” Peter Johnston (Genuine Solutions) added that business could not grow properly in the borough without office space being built. 

-- Steven Spier (Kingston University) talked about how Kingston University was dedicated to “producing the high fliers of tomorrow” in order to “service tomorrow’s big businesses.” He also talked about how good the university’s design courses are, with many of them topping global lists of excellence, and how delegates might think about creating design focused work spaces in order to keep talent in the borough and stimulate good growth.

The Society meets RBK

KS Chair Anthony Evans and several members met with Kingston's Chief Executive, Charlie Adan, in June.

Those who attended thought it worthwhile and were encouraged by her enthusiasm. Among other things reported by Ms. Adan was RBK’s plan to increase the number of residential units on the Cambridge Estate from 1600 to 2000. Also, she seemed receptive to the idea of an urban room. It was agreed that Ms. Adan should be asked to make a presentation at one of the Society’s public meetings.

We found the discussion really refreshing and enlightening, and we hope that this can be the start of a regular dialogue with the Society. We agreed that we need to work with the Council in promoting the best for the life of the Borough. A letter of thanks was sent Ms Adan along with a copy of the history of the Kingston Society, published in 2012.


Heritage Map of Kingston

Kingston Council have produced an online map showing all of the Buildings of Townscape Merit, Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas in the Borough. You can find the map at