12 May 2014

Kingston upon Thames Society Committee: May 2014

May's Kingston upon Thames Society Committee Meeting got off to a bad start but it got better and in the end we reached one important decision constructively and took positive steps to improve the way that we make decisions in the future.


The meeting got off to an odd start with me being criticised for using Twitter during the meetings much to the bemusement of the other Committee members who either had no idea how Twitter works or who could not see any problem with what I was doing. The upshot of all that was that nothing changed and we lost twenty minutes.

The Public Meeting that we had held a couple of weeks previously had suggested that we make greater use of social media to engage with our members and clearly there is a lot of work to do to make this happen.

Latchmere House

This had first come up two months previously but we had missed the opportunity to discuss it at that or the subsequent Committee Meeting and the attempt to consider the matter by email generated a lot of heat but not much consensus. Therefore it was good to be able to discuss it openly this time.

Once the bluster cleared it was obvious that there was more consensus than disagreement and we were also able to reach agreement on the contentious issue of the additional access road.

It was agree that we would write to RBK stating:
  • We agreed that the site should be converted to residential use
  • We thought the design of the buildings was a little unimaginative
  • We liked the permeability of the site for pedestrians and cyclists
  • We liked the retention and refurbishment of Latchmere House
  • We were disappointed in the proportion of affordable houses in the smaller scheme
  • We were against the additional road included in the larger scheme
  • On balance, the smaller scheme had our support.
Hopefully next time we get an application like this the decision making will be easier!

A framework for decision making

The Latchmere House discussion and the Public Meeting on "What Matters to the Society?" led to another discussion on how we describe what it is that we do.

It was proposed (not by me!) that we revisit an outline presentation that I had prepared a few weeks earlier. This attempted to show what it is that we care about (appearance, amenity value, impact on residents, etc.) and to give some guidance on what we consider to be good and bad in each case, accepting that many decisions are subjective and so some of these guidelines would have to be quite loose.

It was also agreed that the framework should cover the development of planning policies as well as individual applications.

Previous Townscape Award winners could be used as examples of what we consider to be good design.

One of the other Committee members had already sent me some comments on the draft presentation and I agreed to consider these before issuing it again for discussion at a future meeting.

Heritage Open Days (HODs)

Good progress was being made with several sites agreeing to take part after missing out in recent years. These included Pizza Express and, hopefully, Warren House.

We were also working with Kingstonfirst on things to do with the Market Place.

Things for me to do

I agreed to circulate the list of protected buildings that I had from RBK and to chase for any additional lists they may have.

I will also circulate the statistics section of the last Development Control Committee Report.

We agreed that we wanted an elected member of RBK to be our Council representative and I said that I would write to RBK to confirm that.

I need to beef-up the "why join the Society" section of the website and the associated application form.

If possible, I should but the leaflet about the Kingstonians in Australia on our Facebook page and/or website.

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