10 July 2014

Consulting on the future of The Old Post Office site

The Old Post Office, and the Ashdown Road Car Park is another significant site in the centre of Kingston that is scheduled for redevelopment. It has only recently been bought by St George and they are already consulting on what they will do with the site.

The consultation included an exhibition in The Old Post Office (though a later addition to it) and I went along to see it. I was quite impressed in both the amount of work St George had done on the history of the site, I did not know that a prison was built on the site back in 1692, and the willingness of their staff to engage meaningfully with visitors.

I also liked their Design Principles. Not only is this the right way to do things (principles first and then the specifics) but the principles were good too.

Kingston needs more destinations and these need to be connected.

The basic plan was simple, almost to the point of being unimaginative, but that simplicity served its purpose. The Old Post Office would be restored and be the heart of a new public space while on the south of the site, next to the main road, would be the housing that would pay for it all.

The artists impression gives some idea of what could come and I approve. It reminded me of the little market house that I discovered in Brussels earlier in the year that was a vibrant and welcoming place.

The two caveats to watch out for were the possible height of the housing and the difficulty in connecting the site to the rest of the town when it is on the other side of the main bus route.

The planning application should be ready towards the end of the year and I am actually looking forward to it.

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