23 April 2014

Unwanted Towering Heights in North Kingston

Kingston is changing a lot and nowhere more than the corner formed between the river on the west and the railway line on the south.

Two large towers, Kingston Riverside, are already blighting Canbury Gardens and two more have been approved for Vicarage Road. While these are both exceptionally tall and unwelcome developments they are least have the advantage of being right on the edge of Kingston, by the river, and so do not impinge much on the main residential areas of North Kingston.

That is now likely to change with a new proposal for a site that had a gas holder until recently. The proposal is to build a large block of flats of up to eleven stories.

I do not like it one bit.

Even the plans submitted by the developer indicate that the building would be much taller than anything near it. What the plans do not show is that North Kingston is predominately two storey Victorian houses with some of the buildings slightly higher but nothing like as tall as this. Most of central London is not this tall.

The north-side, shown above, is slightly shorter than the east/west sides and the south is about the same so this is a large solid block. There is just one small gap in the building towards the north-east corner and that makes the building relentlessly solid.

There is no path through the site so it will be a dead zone as far as the other residents are concerned. I greatly prefer areas that are permeable, i.e. it is easy to walk through in several directions, as these bring life in to the area. This will do just the opposite.

There is a courtyard inside for the residents of the development and a "linear park" around the outside for everybody else. These look reasonable on the plans until you realise that the tall buildings will greatly restrict the light that will not only make these not particularly pleasant places to be in but will also restrict the growth of the plants.

Several residents' groups locally are fighting against the scheme, including the imaginatively named Towering Heights in North Kingston (THINK). I wish them well.

Sadly the Kingston upon Thames Society is in favour of the scheme. I do not know why.

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