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Planning Applications: Major Schemes

See also : Minor Schemes 

We are trying to get the best designs and outcomes from the real plethora of new developments that are facing residents. Lately 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.

There are a few major planning consultations and applications that need a detailed review before we can submit our comments. The details vary each time but the sorts of things that we do to form our view are attend public exhibitions and meet with the developers. We also try to get input from our members and the public though the timescales for consultation do not give us as much time for this as we would like.
 

This is a summary of our position on the following current and recent major consultations and applications:
Kindly contact the editor if you see any errors or omissions: editor@kingstonuponthamessociety.co.uk 

The Major Schemes:

Tolworth Area Plan The Old Post Office - May 2017
Canbury Business Park The Old Post Office - May 2015
Surrey House The Old Post Office - Dec 2014
Cambridge Road Estate Town House, Kingston University
Tesco site Eden Quarter Development Brief
Eden walk Former Gala Bingo
Tolworth Towers HM Remand Centre
Lidl Headquarters Gas Works Site
   
   

Tolworth Area Plan

Oct 2017: Public Consultation

"The Tolworth Area Plan sets out a future vision for Tolworth to help inspire new development and initiatives capable of delivering physical, social and economic improvements. The document will therefore help to focus discussions around the form and type of future development, promoting coherence and consistency between individual projects."

Open for public consultation and comment, 9 Oct to 5 Nov 2017.
The design guidance from page 104 onwards is of particular interest:


A) Focus higher densities and taller buildings around Tolworth Station.
B) Intensify the workspace at Red Lion Road Business Park and Chessington Industrial Estate.
C) New landmark development to help deliver new public realm and improve the crossing of the A3 junction.
D) Introduce landmark building at the junction of Ewell Road and Tolworth Broadway to signify the northern entrance to the Broadway and create a distinctive local character. 
E) Deliver a landmark building at the station to provide a focal point for development south of the A3.
 

Canbury Business Park, Kingston  

Nov 2017:  Planning Application The current closing date for comments on this application is 22-Nov-2017
July 2017: Public Consultation



Comprehensive redevelopment comprising: Demolition of all existing buildings; erection of part six/part seven storey building comprising 5,940spm office accommodation on ground,first, second & third floors, 21 residential apartments above; erection of part-four/part-five/part-six/part-seven/part-ten/part-14 storey building, comprising: 938 sqm of business incubator space, 318 sqm medical centre, 235 sqm of A3 space and 294 residential apartments; two levels of basement accommodation to provide centralised energy centre, car parking, cycle parking, plant and refuse storage; and associated landscaping treatments including new public pedestrian street, courtyard amenity areas and associated public realm improvements. There is a listed building present on this site (Download the Built Heritage Statement PDF here). 


Like others we attended presentations on this scheme in August and November. 
As the presentations did not include visual impact assessments, the following DRAFT is our updated response based on what we have seen and been told thus far.

This is a large development covering the entire block to the east of the Regal Site which CNM is already refurbishing. They now want to build over 300 new flats, new offices and units for small “start-up” business, along with new landscaping and plan to repave/landscape some of Canbury Park Road. 
The existing Nursery School on Cowleaze Road may be re-built elsewhere if CNM can find a suitable site. Otherwise it will take the place of the new Medical surgery shown on the plans. At the consultation meeting with CNM, the Society’s representatives learned that the scheme includes buildings with 14 storeys and about 22% flats for key workers with minimal on-site parking.

There are aspects of this scheme we can commend: the mix of residential types, a relatively generous 22% of flats to be at discounted rent for both public and private sector key workers, provision and mix of office space whilst not losing the current Sitel office space; site permeability with the proposed mews running through the site; clustering higher elements in the centre of the site; street elevations that are broken down into blocks rather than being monolithic; setting back the building line by 2 meters from the street; provision of an on-site medical center; a realistic quantity of active frontage opposite the existing residential areas. Unfortunately though “active frontage” can so easily be blanked off which could ruin an otherwise sensible idea.

We are not convinced that the 3 main street elevations respond to the current scale and character of the surroundings, simple detailing -yes- but much taller even with the current stepping in form towards the centre of the site: no. We don’t  agree there is a sympathy between the context of the tiny 2 storey cottages on Canbury Park Road versus the proposed 4 storey offices & flats opposite which we feel will dominate and overpower them. 

The comparatively narrow 12m wide mews through the site will be seriously compromised by the canyon of tall buildings that will flank it, throwing it into gloomy shade and possibly prone to winds, so we don’t think that it will be anything like as pleasant as the ‘artist impressions’ make out. The planters indicated appear to look overlarge for the space and may need to be rethought or reduced in size.

The ‘elephant in the room’ - as always - is the extent to which the site is densely packed with new buildings, & is again in our opinion over developed and too tall. As always these aspects were very much obscured in the presentation that we were shown. 12 storeys [plus a ground floor of another 2 storeys] making an actual total of 14 is excessive for this part of Kingston which is presently only between 2 & 4 storeys high, and competes with those sites designated as so called “landmarks” in the Eden quarter ie the TOPO & the Eden Walk development, never mind anything else on the Surrey House site. We are not aware of any such designation for this site, and would expect to see something far less dominating on the skyline. 

Given the importance of this site in Kingston’s aviation history, we would like to see references to this both inside and out to help tell the story to residents and visitors. This could be by way of display space, themed interiors, storyboards and sculptures, & we have suggested this to CNM for them to consider.

We sincerely hope that the developer won’t rely upon ‘desktop studies’ for wind impact and fire risk. We await the visual impact assessments of the scheme before we can finalise our response.
 

Some public feedback during consultation:

"Worried about the heigh and building behind causing canyon effect. Giving them parking permits for zone b will displace parking into local roads and affect local residents. Please make sure you put in the trees and green space you shou on the plans as illustrated."

"Height and scale is misleading from planning visuals. Max height should be 8 stories. Planning assumptions are misleading for traffic flow and need to be reconsidered. Fully supportive of office space in development." 

"I would like to see the School in Cowleaze Road kept as part of the development, firstly to break up the appearance and give it some identity and personality. Judging by the current plans the development is going to the typical flat, high and ugly mono-slab affair without any soul, and there are just too many of these types of developments around London. But more importantly to earmark this as an important aviation site, being this being first Sopwith Aircraft factory with this the last remaining building of period before becoming Hawker and moving up Canbury Park Road. Secondary I think 13 stores is far too high, this is not a big site and is surrounded by 2 story properties. Personally I would say no more than 2 stories above the current Gala development, so still a lot higher than the current 3 stories of Sitel House."

 

Surrey House, Eden Street, Kingston

July & Nov 2017: Public Consultation, no application yet.

2 storeys of retail with 270 residential units above, rising to 14 storeys at the Eden st / Brook st corner.

We attended presentations on this scheme in July and November. The following DRAFT is our updated response based on what have seen and been told thus far.

We hoped that this proposed development might be more modest and act as a transition from the low rise historic Market Place which contains many Listed buildings & is predominantly 2/3 storeys in height. However some kind of ‘landmark’ or ‘statement’ is proposed on the corner of Brook & Eden Streets, which the applicant has interpreted as a reason to build a very high tower of 14 storeys. Yet there is no approved design guidance to suggest any such thing - neither is it supported in the Area Action Plan nor the EQ SPD . Where is the logic or justification behind this?
The applicant says it “blends in with the approved future developments, both of which are taller at 16 storeys”. However this is contrary to the local plan. Buildings on this site should not be seeking to “blend” with those designated as so called “landmark buildings”. Doing so would simply compete with them. The proposed 14 storey height is, in the opinion of the Society,  too tall and indistinguishable from the other 16 storey buildings nearby, and would therefore compromise the other permitted developments. It would seriously harm & sustain damage to the setting of these two historic assets - the United Reformed Church and the Old Post Office. 14 storeys is far above the 6-8 storeys guidance in the EQ SPD for this site.

The professionally ‘rented’ model - instead of individual ownership of the flats- is an interesting concept & we very much hope that the ‘discounted rent’ flats [peppered throughout] will be sufficient, trackable, and the arrangement enduring as they will be the only form of affordable accommodation in this development. It remains to be seen whether these will be at a proper discount which will be secured through a totally binding legal Agreement. 

The Society notes the loss of the live music venue [the Hippodrome] resulting from this scheme. The developer is making a small conciliatory action by slightly extending its stay on the site, but we don’t think it is enough. Contrast this to the lengths CNM are going to in rehousing the school in their current Canbury Business Park application. When the Borough Council is at present formulating a new Cultural Strategy, with which to promote this Borough as the London Borough of Culture in 2020, the removal of this venue without another replacement seems rather short sighted.  

We also note changes to the multi storey car park building on Brook Street are planned under a separate application, and hope that its hideous appearance which blights part of Brook Street will be addressed.

The applicant has chamfered the building line at both corners of Eden St, giving slightly more space to the historic assets nearby and slightly better circulation nodes in the public realm, particularly at the western corner.However we were told that the building line along Eden St is only set back about half a metre, which is a great deal less than what we expect as is indicated in the EQ SPD. Contrast this with the permitted Old Post Office scheme, and with the current Canbury Business Park application where each is set back by about 2 metres. 

We expected Eden Street to be widened enough to form a “Square” with a full uninterrupted view of the Old Post Office at its east end, as indicated in the EQ SPD, not just as seen from the United Reformed Church angle as they have pictured. They cannot truthfully say they are giving “clear views of the Old Post office along Eden street”, nor are they “allowing for the creation of Eden Square” as they claim. The guidance of the EQ SPD is completely clear & is therefore NOT being met. We are also concerned about a canyon like  effect being created on Eden Street.

The public realm at the Brook Street corner would be more effective were it not compromised by the columns and the new building towering above. As such it is not all in the public realm. The corner of the building above is slightly more open now that it is formed from balconies, but we would prefer to see it chamfered rather than the pointed corners at this corner.

The elevational treatments appear to be showing promise. The articulation of the frames and the constrained pallet of materials will, as far as we can tell, avoid the monolithic and kaleidoscopic materiality problems of the nearby permitted Eden Walk scheme.

We hope the choice of paving in the public realm will be very carefully considered, and will be more sympathetic and practical than the poor choice of granite used in the Ancient Market Place ( which the applicant  incorrectly referred to as the “Market Square” ).

The once planned ‘through route’ to the rear of the site is now lost, reducing the permeability if the site, which is lost opportunity.
We observed that the design does not include Office space nor a medical centre which, in contrast, are both included in CNM’s Canbury Business Park proposal. So there are no planned social or community contributions to new residents in this development. Anything of this sort will have to be sought via CIL contributions.   

This proposal is failing on :
1) Excessive height which is both harmful to the settings of the two grade 2 listed assets close by, and incompatible with the Area Plan
2) Improvements to the public realm will be much needed to support the greater numbers of residents and visitors which this development would add to. The proposed public realm improvements are insufficient & lacking.  
We find this scheme fails on all of the above points and would neither support nor enhance the the character of Kingston, its heritage and its walkable streets.

A formal application is awaited.
 

Cambridge Road Estate Regeneration

2017: Early stage, no application yet.

The Council is seeking a development partner as they "plan to regenerate the Cambridge Road Estate, which sits in the heart of Kingston. This 15-year project will deliver high quality homes and provide much needed additional housing to our Royal Borough. There are currently around 820 homes across 8.6 hectares of land, with the regeneration offering the opportunity to increase the number of homes, of mixed type and tenure, to around 2,000"

The Society awaites a scheme on which it can comment.
 

16/10482: Old Government Offices/Tesco site, Tolworth

Dec 2016: Planning application
The development in pictures
Dec 2016 ?: Public consultation PDF


Part detailed/ part outline application for a total of 950 residential dwellings and other uses comprising: 1) Detailed: Erection of 211 residential dwellings with associated ground floor uses including Class D1 (Nursery) and Community Uses; Restaurant/Café and 60 car parking spaces, bus layover and driver facilities; landscaping and ancillary works; 2) Outline: Erection of 739 residential units  with associated other ground floor uses  Doctor Surgery; Retail; Cycle Hub and 328 car parking spaces.

The former "Tower" scheme 
The Council refused the former application for an 18 storey "Tower" scheme but when it went to appeal they withdrew objections on advice. However two local residents, four RAOD members, two councillors and the former MP proceeded to defend the refusal at the hearing in April 2017. The Inspector recommended the appeal should be dismissed based on inadequate arrangements to contribute towards affordable housing and infrastructure.The appeal was formally dismissed by the Secretary of State in Sept 2017 (but the Council has to pay part of the costs). Details of the decision and the arguments made can be downloaded here: 7-09-12 DL+IR King Georges Gate 3159298.pdf. The Planning Inspectorate page can be seen here: APP/Z5630/W/16/3159298

This 'Mansion Block' scheme
As part of the appeal process, the developers illustrated that a greater density could be acheived at under 11 storeys across the site. Now only this 'Mansion Block' scheme remains for consideration in this long running saga.

The Society welcomes the submission of the above application as this site has lain dormant for too long and has been an eyesore endured by Tolworth residents and those who drive past it. The previous scheme, which was refused, was supported by the Society but the current one raises concerns. Instead of the various high rise blocks in the previous plans with decent amounts of space between the blocks, this scheme proposes a series of Mansion style blocks ranging up to 10 storeys in height. We are concerned with the monotonous appearance and almost institutional feel of these dominating blocks spread across the site. From what we have seen, the lack of vertical variation is oppressive and counter to the local character. The steep mansard roofs look plainly ridiculous and do not read as a residential aesthetic, nor is the tenuous link with the local character a creditable justification for them. The architects assert that there is more usable open/amenity space between the 12 blocks of flats but they are very limited in size & will clearly be overshadowed to some extent by the 10 storey blocks which face them on either side making them unattractive to enjoy. Also the longest & supposedly largest piece of open space contains the main spine road feeding the whole development which runs right along it so it can hardly be called enjoyable “amenity space”. With a density even higher than the last scheme, together with concern over the lack of useable public space, we believe that the scheme is not well balanced and would over develop the site. We urge the Council to refuse this application on the grounds of inappropriate design, poor layout & lack of properly useable amenity space.

Development Control Committee decision expected Sept / Oct 2017.
 

15/13063: Eden walk, Kingston

Dec 2016: Planning application approved
The development in pictures


The demolition and redevelopment of Eden Walk Shopping Centre, including Millennium House and Neville House to provide a mixed use development consisting of retail, offices and 385 residential units; public and residential car parking; refurbishment of the existing multi-storey car park including new access ramp, extension of basement; public realm works including pedestrian routes and public spaces, improvements to Memorial Gardens, and associated works. Listed Building Consent for the relocation of the War Memorial to a location in Memorial Gardens, and for works abutting the United Reformed Church.
Within the Kingston Old Town conservation area.


The Society strongly opposed this in March 2016. The scheme is excessively high for its surroundings taller than other buildings including the Premier Inn; Union Terrace would be 40% higher than specified in the Eden quarter Brief; Neville Yard Winter Garden is 50% higher than that specified in the Brief; Eden Crescent is 50% higher than the 9+ specified in the Brief and would have a detrimental impact on the Grade 2 Old Post Office and should be one of the many grounds for refusal; Union Terrace would have a similar effect on the United Reform Church; Most of the development would be seen from the Ancient Market Place Conservation Area and Grade 1 All Saints Church in contravention of the NPPF; The “high quality open space” is poor with only 2 hours of sun between September and March; No affordable housing and the profit share does not guarantee any affordable housing; The lack on any certain CIL payments means that new school places, highways and public transport improvements may be borne by the Council.

 

15/10383: Lidl Headquarters Jubilee Way, Chessington

Jul 2017: Planning application approved

Construction of Headquarters development comprising Office and associated and ancillary floorspace together with access from Jubilee Way, HGV access from Kingston Road, car-parking, landscaping and associated engineering works.

The site is apparently assigned for development by the Council and is included in a “strategy for change” within the ’Tolworth Regeneration Area’. The application proposes an attractive 5-storey building of classic, modern design in a landscaped setting. In addition to office space for the administration of the business the building is designed to accommodate staff training and “conference events”. A Travel Plan will include measures to encourage visiting staff to use sustainable modes of travel and the management of the car park for “essential car users” to ensure no over-spill parking on local streets.

The Society welcomes the prospects of a major company locating in the Borough. particularly when we have been critical of applications that have reduced employment opportunities locally. We are also pleased to support this design. As with other major developments in the area, we trust that the Council will work with the applicants to minimise the impact on local traffic flows and parking.

 

15/16356: Tolworth Towers

Jan 2016 ?: Planning application approved

Redevelopment and refurbishment of the Tolworth Tower complex comprising the part change of use of the existing Tower to create 68 Serviced Apartments on floors 7-10, and 108 residential units on floors 11 to 22 and the erection of new 5 storey, 12 storey, 15 storey and 19 storey buildings to provide 962sqm of commercial units at ground floor level with 200 residential units above with associated changes to parking, access, basement parking extension, covered service yard, public realm and landscaping.

This is a large scheme. The applicant states amongst its benefits: new private and affordable homes; replacement high quality office space; enhanced appearance and a high quality public realm, including a pocket park. Overall the objective is to “support and enhance the vitality and viability of the District Centre”.

A good mix of residential accommodation is planned that would meet and exceed the London Plan space standards. 5,000 sq.m of office space is provided to meet current requirements and street level retail space is increased to 962 sq.m. The application is accompanied by Travel Plans covering the commercial and residential elements of the development that promote sustainable transport and reduced vehicular movements to be secured by s106. Additionally there will be 100 fewer parking spaces on the site.

The application is also accompanied by a Daylight and Sunlight Assessment that concludes, “where neighbouring properties have obstructions opposite there would be no material difference between existing and proposed daylight / sunlight levels”. The development will be subject to CIL at a rate compliant with the Council’s charging schedule (currently in draft). The designs are by cjct-studios, a multi-discipline central London commercial practice with an impressive portfolio of high profile projects.

The Society welcomed the proposals to reinvigorate the Tolworth Tower complex and considered the planned mix of residential, office and retail appropriate.

We supported the improvements to the public realm and the overall quality of the scheme. However the intensification of uses on the site will significantly impact on the locality. We therefore trust that the Council’s CIL will be adequate and that it will be used to fund public services in the vicinity, sooner rather than later.

While reference is made to “affordable housing” we could find no reference to specific undertakings, we trust that the Council will secure full provision.

Residents are understandably, and justifiably, concerned about the impact on Tolworth of this and the King George’s Gate schemes, e.g. sunlight, wind and traffic, and we urge the Council to ensure that the applicant has fully addressed these concerns before giving approval to this proposal.
 

17/12378: The Old Post Office - May 2017

Apr 2017: Planning application

Developers St George applied to vary the approved planning application - to add 3 residences, change the residential mix and increase the height by less than 0.5 meters

The Society continued to oppose this in May 2017: On the 25th February The Planning Department should, in our view, on the basis of logic and consistency have recommended that the earlier application be refused. It had previously failed for three reasons and it was clear as day that it continued to fail for the same reasons. Representatives from this Society spoke at the meeting describing the serious harm that would be caused, but this argument was ignored by the Councillors on the Development Control Committee.
This was the fourth public version that had been fiercely opposed, with over 230 written responses and crowds of residents who turned up in person to the Guildhall. It is this application that the developers are hoping to amend.
We, English Heritage and local residents strongly opposed the serious harm that the scheme would inflict, in particular upon the setting of the Listed Old Post Office itself. The Square, which is put forward as key selling point of the whole scheme will be overshadowed, cold and windswept. The developer pictures sunlight from angles from which the sun will never shine.
With this latest amendment the setback to the southern edge of this Square would be moved forward, encroaching even further into the setting of the historic Old Post Office and will cast even more shade on to the proposed Square. This is fact, and the developer’s claims to the contrary are unproven and have no credibility.
It is with great regret that we are now looking at these proposed amendments. The developer should be working to mitigate the harm at this late stage, not adding to it. It is our belief that this application should be refused and the developer should return to something less harmful. We sincerely hope that you will recommend its refusal.
 

14/13247: The Old Post Office - May 2015 / 2016

Sep 2016: Planning application approved

Erection of new buildings of 4 to 16 storeys in height and part demolition, alterations and change of use of Former Post Office and Former Telephone Exchange listed buildings to provide 2,141 sqm of retail/ cafe/ restaurant uses and 638 sqm of flexible floorspace to be used for either retail/café/restaurant uses  or Office, 931 sqm of Office floorspace and 253 sqm of community/leisure and 319 residential units. 132 car parking spaces proposed with access from Ashdown Road and 610 cycle parking spaces. The revisions are accompanied by an Environmental Statement Addendum and updated Technical report Addendums.There is a listed building present on this site.

On 5th November 2015 the Development Control Committee unanimously REFUSED this application, but then APPROVED it on 25 February 2016 after the developers attempted to address the three reasons cited for the refusal, which were:
1) The proposed 12 storey element of the scheme located between the two onsite Grade II Listed Buildings would cause harm to the setting of the former Exchange Listed Building due to its height, incongruous and unsympathetic form and design in this sensitive location.
2) The proposed development does not provide a minimum of 30% of dwellings as 3 or more bedroom units and would not therefore provide an acceptable dwelling mix for the development. It has not been robustly demonstrated that it would be unsuitable or unviable to achieve this percentage on this site.
3) The proposed 16 storey element of the scheme would not relate well to the form, proportion, composition, scale and character of surrounding buildings.

The Society strongly opposed this scheme in its totality. There where however some aspects of the proposal that we fully supported: the proposed restoration of The Old Post Office and the Telephone Exchange, and the creation of a new public space and the intention to attract boutique shops that add to the range of retail outlets in Kingston will be a benefit to Kingston though not a significant one.

We are concerned that the public space will be gloomy most of the time (due to the tall buildings to the south of it) and will not be as attractive as the developer’s drawings suggest. We note that the original drawings for the public space showed the light shining from the North and while this has been corrected the sun is shown as low in the West which it will only be for a relatively few hours of the year. Most of the time the space will be in shade. We are also concerned the that there will be little public amenity in this public space, i.e. any seats will be tied to commercial premises and for use by their customers only.

We support the revision to the previous plans to accommodate the Mini-Holland scheme for Wheatfield Way and the more varied appearance given to that frontage with its mixture of heights and finishes. However, we do not like the unbroken frontage which means that the site if not permeable (not even an arcade running through it as there is in other developments nearby) and this helps to create an unpleasant barrier between the lanes of the town centre and the open space of the Fairfield.

We note that the plans have also been modified to make more space around the two listed buildings, however, we would have liked more room given to the Telephone Exchange which looks rather hemmed in by the blocks either side of it. The tower that lies between the two listed buildings is particularly obtrusive as it divides and over powers them.

There are other parts of the proposal that we are unhappy with; the scheme is very dense, especially when compared the Victoria streets nearby, and the proposition of affordable housing is well below the Council’s guidelines.

There another aspect of the scheme that we find completely unacceptable and that is the height of the tallest tower. At 19 storeys it is considerably taller than anything else nearby. We think that this tower would have an unacceptable visual impact from several locations including Richmond Park (where it would protrude over the horizon) and the Fairfield. We also think that the height would set a dangerous precedent for other locations in Kingston, particularly Eden Walk.

We do not accept the argument that the tower would be an appropriate gateway building into Kingston because its location is wrong for this and because a gateway from the South will be provided by Country Hall and the new University Town House that is being built opposite.

The Kingston upon Thames Society was formed just over fifty years ago to fight the relief road that was proposed at the time and we see this development as just as big a threat to the historical town and we strongly oppose it.
 

14/13278: Town House, Kingston University, Kingston

Aug 2015: Planning application approved
Mar 2015: Planning application refused


15/12549: (APPROVED) Demolition of the existing Town House building and erection of a new teaching building (9,027 sqm GIA) for Kingston University, along with associated access, parking and landscaping works.Within the Grove Crescent conservation area.

14/13278: (REFUSED) Demolition of the existing Town House building and erection of a new teaching building (9,320 sqm GIA) for Kingston University, along with associated access, parking and landscaping works.Within the Grove Crescent conservation area.

The application follows the design we previously generally supported.

The A&D Statement states that as a result of public consultation the building is now one storey lower, representing a 13% reduction of floor space. While this reduction in height is welcome (although the building still seems massive when viewed along Penrhyn Road) the lost space is that previously identified for new “projects”, the loss of which is regrettable.

This has, however, resulted in better use of the space internally and a reduction of the over generous circulation space in the original design.

Regrettably the planning statement says the University already provides “training and support for small businesses…” therefore “…it is not considered a financial contribution is justified”.

The Society welcomes this application from the University to provide a building of some distinction on this most prominent site, opposite County Hall. We appreciate the reduction of the height of the building from that originally proposed but regret the loss of “project space”, potentially an important aspect of the University’s link with the community.

During the consultation the University undertook to provide community access but we note that no S106 or CIL contributions are now proposed. We trust, therefore, that measures will be agreed to compensate for this loss in a S106 agreement safeguarding public access and regulated community use of the building’s meeting spaces.
 

14/13247: The Old Post Office - Dec 2014

Nov 2015: Planning application refused

Erection of new buildings of 13 and 21 storeys in height and part demolition, alterations and change of use of Former Post Office and Former Telephone Exchange listed buildings to provide retail/ cafe/ restaurant uses and flexible floorspace to be used for either retail/café/restaurant uses or Office, Office floorspace and community/leisure and 380 residential units. Car parking spaces proposed with access from Ashdown Road and cycle parking spaces. 

In January 2015 the Society strongly opposed this. The Kingston upon Thames Society has put considerable effort into reviewing the redevelopment of The Old Post Office site including a meeting with the developers on Monday 19 January and then a discussion at our monthly meeting with our members on Wednesday 21 January, and these are our comments.

There are several aspects of the proposal that we fully support. We welcome the proposed restoration of The Old Post Office and the Telephone Exchange. We also welcome the creation of a new public space, the intention to attract boutique shops that add to the range of retail outlets in Kingston and the use of bricks to match the predominant style of the town.

We support the revision to the previous plans to accommodate the Mini-Holland scheme for Wheatfield Way and the more varied appearance given to that frontage with its mixture of heights and finishes.

We note that the plans have also been modified to make more space around the two listed buildings, however, we would have liked more room given to the Telephone Exchange which looks rather hemmed in by the blocks either side of it.

There are other aspects of the proposal that we are less happy with; the scheme is very dense, even more so now that the footprint of the blocks has been reduced, and the proposition of affordable housing at 15% is well below the Council’s guidelines.

There is one aspect of the scheme that we find completely unacceptable and that is the height of the tallest tower. At 21 storeys it is considerably taller than anything else nearby. We think that this tower would have an unacceptable visual impact from several locations including Richmond Park (where it would protrude over the horizon) and the Fairfield. We are concerned about the impact on other views, e.g. from Hampton Court, but we have been unable to make a proper assessment of these from the documentation provided.

We also think that the height would set a dangerous precedent for other locations in Kingston, particularly Eden Walk.

 

Eden Quarter Development Brief Supplementary Planning Document

Mar 2015: Adopted
PDF download here


We welcome the brief as we welcome all efforts by the Council to manage the way that the Borough develops rather than leaving it to the whims of developers. The recent experience in North Kingston shows the need for area plans.

We would have liked to see this brief put into the greater context of the Borough. For example, if this area is to be predominantly retail then where in the Borough is there an emphasis on employment? It would also be helpful to see how this area connects to the rest of Kingston, e.g. routes from the station.

We are concerned that the first principle is "a competitive town centre" as we believe both that other changes will make this hard to achieve (e.g. Croydon Westfield and internet shopping) and that this is not a principle designed to benefit residents.

We appreciate the efforts of the Council and Kingston First to diversify and animate the town centre to be more attractive but the quantity of new retail space seems ambitious. We understand that the Council’s consultant GVA has concluded that there is sufficient demand for the >200,000sq ft proposed and would appreciate more information on this.

We welcome the proposal to retain and enhance the walkability of the are and we think that the general street plan will work well in connecting the areas east of Eden Street to the town centre. We would also like to see walking routes improved to/from the town centre. The proposals to reduce the traffic in the centre to create more space for people is also welcomed.

Apart from embryonic proposals to re-route bus services (subject to the conclusions of TfL’s current study) the plans do not appear to explain how access to the town centre will be enhanced; the SW Trains are already running to over capacity and the plan makes no significant proposals for additional capacity to address this. How will people get there? Access to and from Kingston at peak times is already difficult.

Should Eden Square be a pedestrian area this would be great advantage in reconnecting The Old Post Office site to the town. The Development Brief proposes the Eden Square should be a shared pedestrian and cycle space with restricted access for service vehicles, and we support this.

We welcome the intention to improve the settings of the Museum and Library and to improve access to them and to the Fairfield, however we oppose plans for further building on the Fairfield. Under no circumstances should any of the grassed area of Fairfield be paved over for use of a relocated Cattle Market.

In the report Fairfield is referred to as Fairfield Park, this it certainly is not, but it could well be improved by making it more accessible. The report suggests a gate at the north west corner by the library which would be an improvement, or we would suggest, more radically, by removing the railings all together, and laying some diagonal paths.. Having looked at the local maps Fairfield is larger then Richmond Green, which seems incredible, and like Richmond Green it has the potential to be connected to the town and to be a favoured destination for residents and visitors.

The Cattle Market has deteriorated over the years: it always had low budget stalls, which should remain, but it used to also have second hand jewellery and ‘antique’ stalls which gave the place more life and interest. As such it could be developed on its present site as part of a total redevelopment, in the manner of Spitalfields. The underground car parks could be rebuilt, at ground level a grand columned market hall could be erected, supporting the office/residential development above.

We are concerned that what generally looks a good plan on a map may be made considerably worse in reality if the building heights are not contained, both to protect current views and also to retain an open and attractive feel to the town. The consultation document states that important views should be “taken into account” (section 3.5), that is not strong enough: important views must be protected.

The excessive heights proposed by the developers seem to be the major problem. The Developers obviously want to go as high as they can get away with, stating that the developments are not viable unless they reach 12,14 or 16 storeys, which we are not in a position to argue with. We accept that some further high-rise buildings will be necessary but they should be the exception rather than the rule (we want Kingston to feel more like Richmond than Croydon) and should only be allowed when they are sympathetic to their surroundings.

We are appalled by the proposal to re-site Out of Order, to a place unknown, just to improve the view of the shops in Old London Road. This is now the most famous monument in Kingston and should stay where it is. Putting commerce above art in this way is a terrible indictment of the Council's policy toward the town.

The plans represent a huge expansion not only of retail space but also of 1,200 housing units, inevitably this will put additional pressure on existing services. How will this new population be supported? There are already desperate shortages of schools spaces, health facilities and other social infrastructure. Assurances that there is both the space and the funding to adequately serve the new population, as well of those of us already here, is essential. While we recognise that not all can be accommodated in the town centre a clear strategy is necessary.

While we have highlighted some serious concerns we are broadly sympathetic towards the plan and are glad that the Council have produced it. There is clearly still some work to do on the detail and to address the concerns raised by us and others. Given that substantial changes are likely to the brief, we would like to see a second round of consultation before the final document goes to committee for approval.
 

13/13017: Former Gala Bingo / Regal Site, Richmond Road, Kingston

Mar 2015: Planning application approved

Alterations, demolition & rebuilding of eastern annex to provide 7 storey extension for 15 serviced apartments/offices. Erection of 3 additional floors for 14 flats. Use of main building as non-residential institution/assembly/leisure use, bar/ restaurant, children's play centre, dance studio. Basement car park. Single storey addition to school.There is a listed building present on this site.

Revised plans for this site have been submitted and the Society has responded as follows.

The Kingston upon Thames Society recognises the importance of this site both for its historical features and also its prominent position on the relief road. We also recognise that it has been left to rot for some time and that this means that there is some urgency in bringing the building back in to use and also that some compromises are needed to provide the funding required.

We welcome the intention to restore the main façade on Richmond Road and to reinstate, as far as is possible, the art deco interior. We are pleased that in the revised application the developer is proposing retain the upper auditorium as a single coherent space and we think that this is an improvement on the previous proposal.

The restored cinema is a key feature of the proposal and we would like the Council to impose a condition on the developers to ensure that this is provided.

We believe that the proposed mixed uses for the building are appropriate for the area and are consistent with its previous uses as a cinema and bingo hall.

The roof extension is obviously the main point of contention in the design and while we would rather that it was not there we accept that the residential element is needed to make the scheme financially viable and so we can reluctantly accept this element. We note that the extension will be most obvious from along Sopwith Way and that this will be seen by many people visiting Kingston and passing through.

We are also pleased with the design of the apartments and we note that they are of a good size, i.e. significantly larger than the minimum design guidelines that some other developers keep to. For example, the two-bed apartments on the fifth floor are 165 sqm whereas similar flats in the proposed gas holder development are only 72 sqm.

The Society has not specifically considered the impact on residents of the additional traffic movements or of the building works and we trust that the Council will ensure that any adverse effects are kept to a minimum.

2017 Update: Plans for a cinema in the site have been dropped.

 

14/12144: HM Remand Centre, Latchmere Lane, Kingston

Mar 2015: Planning application approved

Erection of 31 dwellings 2/3 storeys high with access from Church Lane and Latchmere Lane, Ham as part of the creation of 89 dwelllings through the conversion and extension of Latchmere House to create 7 flats and the demolition of existing buildings and erection of 82 new dwellings in conjunction with application 14/0450/FUL in the London Borough of Richmond.

Planning Applications 14/12144 (Scheme 1) and 14/12146 (Scheme 2) HM REMAND CENTRE, LATCHMERE LANE, KT2 5NX

The Society supports the principle of redevelopment of this site for residential use and agree that the proposals are generally in scale and in character with the existing housing near by. While we are disappointed that the design of the new dwellings is not more inspiring we acknowledge the applicant's desire to reflect local styles.

We are pleased that Latchmere House will be refurbished as part of both sets of proposals and welcome the improved permeability of the schemes with the provision of pedestrian and cycle routes to and through the site.

While we consider both schemes to have some merit, we recognise the shortcomings of Scheme 2, which although offering more affordable housing, does propose an additional highway access into Latchmere Lane that raises significant concerns.

Therefore while Scheme 1 disappointingly proposes fewer affordable housing units, on balance we consider this to be the better proposal overall and wish to support it.

However we also note that a development of this size will impose significant additional pressure on local public services that are already over stretched.
 

14/12215: Gas Works Site, Kingston

Oct 2015: Planning application (amendment) approved
Nov 2014: Planning application approved 


15/12787: This application seeks amendments to the resubmission of part of gasholder site granted planning permission ref. 14/12215/FUL. 13 extra residential units now proposed to provide total of 328 units on whole gasholder site by amending south-eastern corner from five/ six/ seven storeys to two/ seven/ eight/ nine storeys. Main changes: Setback of seven and eight storey elements; provision of additional private amenity space; reduced extra units; increased size of units.

14/12215: Redevelopment of site comprising erection of building between 5 and 9 storeys in height to provide 315 residential units and 408 sq m of community, education and/or commercial space  on Sury Basin frontage; formation of new vehicular access off Seven Kings Way to serve basement carpark; provision of public open space and associated landscaping.

Having inspected this application the Society wishes to support it. We regard to be of high architectural quality and will make a distinguished contribution to the environment of that part of Kingston. We note that it contravenes the height restriction set out in the recently produced North Kingston Development Brief but the gradation of heights, culminating in one twelve storey block seems to us to be a perfectly acceptable solution. We also like the landscaping of the proposed walkway which will improve the environment of the area.