Just over a year ago I went to a public meeting on the future of the site of the former prison at Latchmere House that straddles the Kingston/Richmond border and now the application has come in. Or rather two have as the developers have submitted two similar schemes with one slightly larger than the other and with a higher proportion of affordable housing.
Frankly, they are very disappointing plans. I was worried that we might get something dull and that is exactly what is proposed.
These are my thoughts on the various aspects of the schemes working from best to worst.
There is one good point to the schemes and that is their permeability. Good pedestrian and cycle access is proposed through the site with access points in each corner. This was proposed in the original planning brief and I am glad that the developers have taken this idea on board.
The design of the housing takes bland to a new level and this a good opportunity to do something imaginative seriously missed.
The current site has lots of green space beyond the prison walls, particularly along Latchmere Lane, and most of this will be lost to housing under both schemes. While I appreciate that developers need to make profits I do feel that they are often too greedy and build more in to the space available than suits the area. There are open green spaces on the other side of the road too and it would be a shame to lose them on this side.
The larger scheme is the more controversial as it proposes building an additional exit on to Latchmere Lane. There are several things wrong with this idea. The traffic report says that the new housing will generate less peak-time traffic than the prison did so there is no need for any additional road capacity. If another exit was required then joining on to Garth Road (which is planned to be passable to pedestrians and cyclists anyway) is a better than option than taking even more green space for another road which would join Latchmere Lane where it bends and narrows.
For reasons that I fail to understand, these views are not shared by some of my colleagues on the Kingston upon Thames Committee and it is possible that we will be supporting the larger scheme with the additional road. Obviously I am doing what I can to stop this.