9 December 2013

Kingston upon Thames Society Committee: December 2013

December's Meeting of the Kingston upon Thames Committee had several significant planning applications to consider as well as other business.

Business matters and updates

We were still worried about the large number of applications for student accommodation. Some of the schemes are good but we are concerned that some were not well placed and some were of a low standard and would become slums.

Similarly there was a tide of applications to turn town-centre offices in to residential. Again it was not individual schemes that we objected to but the overall impact of all of the changes. A significant change to residential would be good for the towns in the evenings and at weekends but the reduction in office workers would reduce the spending during the week.

The brick box in Canbury a Gardens which was there for the district heating system (nothing wrong with that) was uglier than it needed to be. Probably.

The Place and Sustainability Committee on11 February was due to receive a report on heritage in Kingston. The Society was keen to ensure that the work that the Society does in this, notably HODs and Coombe Conduit, was noted and supported.

Learning the lesson from Penny School, we wanted to be more proactive and to identify buildings that were worth protecting before they were threatened. RBK should have had several list that would be a useful start for this and the first step was to find out what they are and what state they were in.

RBK were also looking for sites for plaques. These would be less formal that the Blue Plaque scheme and would include people who were still alive. The emphasis seemed to be current, or recent, celebrities.

The Thames Landscape Strategy had not been able to do some of the projects that it wanted in Kingston due to a lack of funding from the Council.

Engagement and publicity

We spend some time discussing how we could involve our members more in our deliberations on planning applications and also inform the public about what we are doing.

The process will change but the plan is to email members once a week (at most) with the significant applications that we would like their input on. This would be a collection of views rather than of votes, the Committee would still make the final decision on each application but members' views would be useful, especially if they had local knowledge.

The other thing we plan to do is to write a colloquial summary of our Committee meetings and the decisions that we make there that we can share with our members via email and the website. We will also send it to the press (it will be in the public domain anyway via our website) with the aim of keeping Society in the public's awareness and to encourage more of them to join us.

Planning applications


Redevelopment of site to provide a part three, part four, part five, part six storey building comprising 140 units of student accommodation (Sui Generis) and 388 sq m of flexible commercial floorspace (A1/A2/A3/B1) (retail, financial & professional services, restaurant or cafe, business).

We agreed to support this application.

We liked the way that it both fitted in with its neighbouring buildings and also had an interesting.


Erection of new detached 4 bedroom residential dwelling house on the vacant side plot.

We agreed to object to this on the grounds of over development.


Erection of three-storey residential building to rear of Nos. 36 to 42 Leatherhead Road to provide 10 x 2-bedroom flats with 11 car and 20 cycle parking spaces accessed from new crossover located to rear of Nos. 40 to 42 Leatherhead Road leading onto Fengate Close.

We agreed to object to this as it garden grabbing and that is something that the Society has consistently opposed.


Change of use to provide Class A3, B1, D1 and D1 uses inc cinema,restaurant, children's play centre and business centre incubator, erection of rear extension to provide B1 and C1 use inc office and serviced apartments; erection of 3 floors to provide 14 residential units and associate ancillary use inc basement car park, and playground at Educare Small School.

We had been anticipating the planning application for the former Gala Bingo Hall and were very pleased with the results. A lot of the internal art deco features were being retained and the new flats on the top of the building were in character.

This was a building that had a turbulent recent history, including a fire, and we were very pleased to see it come through only slightly damaged in some areas and enhanced in others.

Development Control Committee

Two applications were going to Development Control on Thursday 12th that we had objected to but which were being recommended for approval by officers. We decided to write to the Councillors on the committee to summarise our objections.


  1. Interesting Matt, I was on the W & P BC planning committee for 6 years including 1 year as Chair. It was undoubtedly one of the most interesting and satisfying aspects of being a councillor. Supporting a piece of good design can be more satisfying than turning down a potential horror.


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