A forum for neighbours



Surrey County Hall redevelopment

Summary of concerns regarding the planning application for Surrey County Hall:

These notes are for guidance only and should not be copied and pasted because duplicated responses tend to be discounted. It is also important that you state your name and address on your letter, which should be addressed to Barry Lomax development.management@kingston.gov.uk

RER has applied for planning permission to provide 341 flats that will be delivered through the reuse of Surrey County Hall (SCH), which is now a Grade 2* listed building, and the redevelopment of both the computer wing and the Surrey Club/tennis courts site. From reviewing the planning application, the RRA has the following major concerns:

• The current proposal is for 90% residential and fails to provide sufficient public benefit through a mixture of uses. There is no evidence that SCH has been fully marketed to determine a genuine mix of uses such as health, community, arts, leisure and further “good growth” commercial uses as defined by the Mayor of London. Are you happy with predominantly residential use?

• The replacement for computer building in The Bittoms is too tall and has no architectural merit. It is not modern nor in the same style as the neighbouring listed building; an inferior and inappropriate design compromise. Do you want something better?

• The proposed replacement building on the Surrey Club/tennis courts site (Block A) is a gross over-development and totally inappropriate. It fails to respect the context:

• The Grade 2* listed building – the proposal would be too close (just 11 metres away) and too tall (36.8 metres, which is over 9 metres taller than County Hall) and would dominate the listed building, both in terms of its closeness within the boundary, but also on Penrhyn Rd where the setting will be compromised by this massive building standing further forward. Then squeezing 8,6 & 4 storey blocks of mostly private residential so close to this magnificent Grade 2* former public building is inappropriate and unacceptable. Are you happy that the quality of this heritage asset is going to be spoiled to cram in masses of private flats?

• The existing neighbouring suburban homes – it is proposed to build 8,6&4 storey blocks right on the boundary with the neighbouring homes, looming over the existing gardens. At the end of the gardens of No 1,3,5 & 7 Woodbines a six storey tower is proposed within 1 meter of the boundary. This will to affect light and create unacceptable noise from the many new flats that will be in very close proximity. So as well as spoiling the setting of the heritage asset, this scheme will be unacceptably overbearing, dominant, oppressive and unneighbourly for the local residents. Are you happy with the proposed scale and the disruption which will result?

• Given the setting, the architectural quality of the replacement Surrey Club building needs to be exemplary, but the proposal certainly is an unremarkable ‘block’. It mimics the University Town House, but is a pastiche that lacks the depth and articulation of Town House. The design is not good enough to approve.

• There is a pressing need for family housing in Kingston, we know this. RER’s proposal is 85% one and two bed flats, and few 3+ bed homes. It will actually make the need for family housing all the more acute. The Surrey Club/tennis courts site could provide family housing with gardens if a more appropriate scale of development were considered.

• The proposal seeks to turn existing family housing at nos. 5 & 7 Milner Rd into small flats. We object to this because of the pressing need for family homes in Kingston. These must remain as family houses with gardens.

• The proposal seeks to reduce the length of the gardens of 5/7 Milner Rd and use this space to house some of the infrastructure requirements of the new build development – such as power and waste storage. The impact on no. 9 Milner is particularly concerning, living with a sub-station and waste compound immediately on their northern boundary, as well as having the flank wall of Block A rising to 8 storeys at the end of the garden, the impact on light, noise and the oppressive nature is totally unacceptable and is clear evidence that Block A is over-developed.

• The proportion and distribution of affordable homes within the proposal is unacceptable. Just 25% affordable is simply not enough (should be 50%), and the segregation proposed by locating them all in just two parts of the scheme would be socially divisive. The affordable housing should be integrated throughout the development.

• We are very concerned that the scheme provides insufficient outdoor amenity space, the courtyards and pocket park will not provide sufficient for the circa 1,000 residents that the proposal could generate.

• In London, town centre development, as this is, is supposed to be car free, and we object to the 70 spaces proposed. . We are very concerned that the new residents will find ways round permit restrictions and will overload the on-street parking on Milner/Woodbines. This scheme must have zero parking and zero permits.

• Are you concerned about the pressure on local services, particularly health and schools? Getting school places and doctors’ appointments is only going to get more difficult. These services could be provided as part of the scheme.

• A scheme of this size will cause massive pollution from noise and light. And endless heavy construction and service vehicles for years to come in our peaceful neighbourhood.

We and many other residents raised these concerns at the developers consultations, but they we summarily ignored.

The planning application is on the RBK planning portal here But the most useful and easily understood documents are the Design and Access Statements, and we have combined the seven separate PDFs into one document here (this is a large file – 222 pages – and will take a few seconds to load) and it can be downloaded to your own computer for convenience.

f you are concerned by the proposal you should write a letter/email of objection to the Council giving your reasons for objecting and why the Council should refuse to grant planning permission by Friday 4th February. More detail about the Residents Association (including who to contact should you need to) and our comments in response to the RER scheme consultation can be viewed here:

Planning application has been validated and is awaiting council decision

The 297 (!) document planning application is on the RBK planning portal here

The most useful and easily understood documents are the Design and Access Statements, and we have combined the seven separate PDFs into one document here (this is a large file – 222 pages – and will take a few seconds to load) and it can be downloaded to your pwn computer for convenience. Any problems contact Tony Lancaster on committee@riversideresidents.org.uk

The RRA committee is due to meet with our local councillors on 20th January – please let us know if you have questions you would like asked.

Second public consultation brings some clarity but still major concerns

The second consultation proposals are available to view on-line at the project website www.formersurreycchq.co.uk (or you can access the exhibition boards here if that link stops working) It is clear despite our earlier feedback the developers intend to press on with entirely inappropriate tall buildings directly adjacent to the gardens in Woodbines Avenue but we are pleased they have dropped the entirely inappropriate proposal of ‘pods’ on the cobbled car park in Milner Road.

We have submitted our comments as below: (or download as a Word document here)

(Illustrations: left – view from Penrhyn Road, Below views from path between former Surrey Club (staff canteen) and tennis Courts

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with your concerns and comments. (chair@riversideresidents.org.uk)


This feedback is submitted by Riverside Residents Association (RRA) following member discussions in response to the Presentation of outline development proposals for the County Hall site by the new owners RER at the end of October 2021.

The RRA represents residents in the area bounded by:  South and East Lane to the north, Portsmouth Road to the west, Milner Road/County Hall to the East, Woodbines Avenue to the south and east, including The Bittoms, Oaklea Passage, and Avante Court.  The RRA is a community group that looks to help shape our locality for the benefit of all residents.

We welcome the opportunity to respond to your proposals that have been presented through this latest round of engagement.  We note that the views expressed through these rounds of engagement are taken into consideration by LPAs, Inspectors as well as the developers hosting the engagement.  We note that the cross-sections to illustrate views to the rear of the block proposed for the Surrey Club and tennis courts that was promised by RER have not materialised, and we therefore reserve the right to comment on these if/when they are provided.

Our comments in the main focus on two matters, firstly a matter of principle – the uses proposed for the County Hall building, and secondly our response to the proposals for the Surrey Club/tennis courts site. The tennis courts are the established lawful use on this site given that SCC never applied for or received planning permission to change the use to a car park.  SCC in their more community spirited days allowed local residents to use the tennis courts for recreational use, and a number of existing RRA members benefited in this way.

We do also briefly comment on other matters such as the quite frankly ludicrous idea of ‘pavilions’ on the Milner Road frontage that has now been quietly dropped.  Unfortunately, their inclusion in the first place rather undermines our confidence in RER’s development team.

Uses proposed for the Listed Building
RER is a residential developer, and its focus is clearly on maximising the residential content of the scheme.  While we are pleased to see commercial use proposed through The Trampery managed workspace, this being confined to the ‘difficult’ elements of the building and no other uses proposed smacks of tokenism.

We want to see uses in the building that bring public benefit.  RER will expect to provide a substantial element of public benefit in the building as they bought a building that not only is listed (and its listing is as much about its former civic/community function as it is about its fine form), but is also allocated in the adopted statutory Borough Plan for public benefit uses – civic and educational.  So, we most certainly expect to see, and expect the Council in its development management capacity to encourage RER to deliver uses in accordance with the Development Plan – educational and civic uses. These uses should continue to be the priority for the listed building, but we as a major representative group within the local community would also support community uses that bring public benefit, and then in a hierarchy of uses we would then favour commercial uses that bring jobs, and we turn to this below, but firstly we consider the opportunities for educational use.

It was notable that the RER presentations were silent on discussions with KU, and indeed silent on whether discussions had taken place with other educational institutions / providers, yet this is the main use we residents and the Council through its adopted statutory local plan wish to see promoted on this site.  RER will have known this from the word go, but the silence on pursuing any educational option is hugely disappointing.  The opportunity and benefit for the University, our town and RER from consolidation of the University campus either side of Penrhyn Road is obvious, and must be pursued.  Working with the University (largest employer in the Borough) so that it can grow and flourish is a Council objective and providing the opportunity for the University to take space in County Hall is confirmed through allocation in the adopted Local Plan.  This is what the Local Plan and this Residents’ Association want to see in the reuse of County Hall.  Instead from RER there has been a deafening silence.

County Hall is a large building, and we also want to see uses in the building that deliver public benefits, maintaining public access, and the building returned to being a public asset for the residents and visitors to the Borough.  Community infrastructure is universally under-provided in this Borough and across London, and this building is an opportunity to provide and help address the under-provision.  We would like to see the local history rooms and the registrar relocate to County Hall.  We would like to see health facilities considered in the building as part of the public benefit; it is increasingly difficult to get a dental or doctor’s appointment locally.

Moving down the uses hierarchy we would like to suggest exploring the option of a boutique hotel for the 1893 element, and much more in the way of commercial space in other parts of the building than RER currently propose.  In this respect we note that Castleforge Partners ongoing redevelopment of the former Bromley Town Hall will provide 70,000 sq ft of work space (and a boutique hotel).  What works in Bromley (albeit with grant funding) will work even better in a more prestigious building opposite one of the best arts, design and creative Universities in Europe. We also point to Hornsey Town Hall another Grade 2* listed landmark building currently undergoing repurposing by Ardmore to provide a range of community accessible uses including a new performance arts centre, co-working and flexible workspaces, restaurants, cafés and versatile event spaces plus an hotel.  Both the Hornsey and Bromley examples demonstrate the type of opportunity Kingston’s County Hall represents.  We urge RBK to work with RER to explore the opportunity to provide a hugely exciting mix of community accessible spaces that would be of major benefit to the town centre, the University and residents.

Kingston University has a strong entrepreneurial tradition with business start-ups particularly strong in the arts, design and other creative activities, but the Borough lacks space for emerging and budding businesses, and has not been able to accommodate these entrepreneurs, and businesses reluctantly start-up elsewhere.  Kingston needs space for fledgling businesses to start-up, to grow-on and to flourish – start-up / incubator / grow-on workspace that could come forward as a creative industries hub in County Hall – a prominent prestigious building located next to the main University site; this is a really exciting prospect.

A public benefit use that is well worth exploring is the potential for the building’s uses to include art gallery and/or museum space.  RER must explore the potential to use Kingston University’s strengths in art and design to  attract an extension of a London gallery / museum, many of which have no space to expand on their central sites, and may be looking for opportunities to extend their collections to gallery space in locations such as our magnificent Grade 2* Listed County Hall.  Such a use within this public building would be very fitting, bringing the sort of public benefit that would deliver a wonderful legacy for residents and visitors to enjoy. This idea is not ‘pie in the sky’, as Kingston First will tell you that Kingston town centre is visited by around 20 million visitors annually, many of whom come for the leisure experience.  Kingston town centre needs more attractions and to diversify and raise its offer, especially to attract those with more spending power – a gallery / museum in such a well located and prestigious building as County Hall would go a long way in helping attract more affluent visitors and help the town centre as a whole raise its offer.

On the same theme Kingston’s existing museum may also present a relocation opportunity given the impending redevelopment plans for the wider area, and there may be interest in expanding collections such as that of Eadweard Muybridge.  Kingston University may be interested in relocation its Stanley Picker gallery, this would certainly benefit from being relocated to a more prominent location, and potentially a hub of other such attractions.  These possibilities need to be explored before RER defaults to residential.

Finally, we return to the opportunity of providing more commercial workspace within the building. We think, and perhaps the Council’s as yet unpublished Employment Land Review will confirm this, that there is a need for more managed workspace than the Trampery alone can provide to meet demand in the general commercial market to accommodate a workforce that is increasingly entrepreneurial and focused on micro and small businesses, propelled in this direction by the pandemic.  County Hall is attractive, characterful and has a presence, it was last used for civic back-office functions, it is very well located in terms of public transport access (served by both Kingston and Surbiton rail stations / bus routes), and adjacent to Kingston University with all the research and resources contained therein.  We would like to see workspace on a more ambitious scale than that currently envisaged by RER, and involving the University. We would also like to see the University given the opportunity to centralise its campus here, administratively and/or teaching, which would give rise to opportunities to rationalise KU’s property assets elsewhere, many of which we think are appropriate for residential use.

Surrey Club
We are not at all impressed by RER’s 8, 6, 4 and 2 storey proposals for the Surrey Club site. Indeed, for the reasons that we set out below we want to see this scaled back to certainly no more (and indeed better still less) than the existing building footprint.  We the local residents who are here for the long haul consider your proposals to be of poor design and to fail to respond appropriately to the context particularly in terms of height/mass/appearance, separation and amenity – in short we see your proposals as being crass over-development and would certainly not create well designed homes and create the type of locality where residents old and new would find the quiet enjoyment that we all want from our homes.

It is also relevant to note in respect of the existing Surrey Club that had the G2* listing been in place in the 1970s then it is very unlikely that the scale and position of the Social Club would have gained planning permission due to its adverse impact on the listed setting. The redevelopment presents an opportunity to restore and enrich the listed building setting, which is cited by Historic England as a positive reason to adapt a listed building. A replacement building should sit further back from Penryn Road and from the Listed Building and be designed in scale to be subordinate to the adjacent G2* listed building, which will improve its setting and the views and progression along Penryn Road in both directions.

Height and massing/appearance
The building would need to be considered against London Plan Policy D9, and we fail to see how the planning decision-makers could possibly consider this location to be appropriate for a tall building. You may argue Town House, to which we would say the context is Reg Bailey and the Milner / Woodbines / Bittoms residential immediately to the rear.

Good design in locations such as this is about transitioning sensitively (as required by London Plan Policy D9C), and not having high rise high density development abutting the boundaries of the suburban residential – such an approach cannot be considered sensitive transition.

We also take issue with the massing and appearance of the new build for the Surrey Club site, which is more akin to the look of a densely massed student halls of residence than the suburban detached and semi-detached residential that it meets to the south and west.

RER have failed to respect the local residential context.  Woodbines, Milner and the Bittoms are that context, located just outside of the town centre boundary and solidly suburban in context. Cramming 100 flats on the Surrey Club/ tennis courts and 350 in the Listed Building represents a huge density totally disproportionate to the context and again not providing a sensitive transition.

We understand that the separation distance frontage to frontage between our G2* Listed Building and the ‘town cramming’ on the Surrey Club / tennis courts would be some 10 metres.  This would be contrary to both Kingston and the Mayor of London’s minimum standards for visual separation as set out in their Housing SPG /Design SPD.  Indeed this distance is just half the minimum standard required to maintain privacy (the Mayor’s Housing SPG identifies 18-21 m (Standard 28) and the Council’s Design SPD identifies a distance of no less than 21 m (PG16)).  Thus what you propose is totally unacceptable.

The lack of adequate separation / set back is also an issue for our G2* building, as is the height and massing of the proposed replacement building.  We assure you that the scale of Town House does not detract from County Hall because it is remote (on the other side of the road and set back from the highway).  The existing Surrey Club building does detract from the setting of the G2* building, and your proposal that would not only be just 10 metres from the building, but exceed County Hall in height could not possibly be considered to respect or be subservient to the G2* building.

We certainly cannot comprehend that Historic England, the Council or the Planning Inspectorate would consider a residential scheme such as that which RER propose would trigger the wholly exceptional circumstances required to justify the substantial harm wrought on the G2* building by developing in this way within the building’s setting / curtilage.

Separation, loss of privacy and avoiding overlooking issues are real concerns for residents with property boundaries abutting the Surrey Club and tennis courts.  We do not want to have flank walls of 6, 4, and 2 storey residential blocks close to our boundary, looming over our gardens, spaces where we have the right to peaceful enjoyment.  It is difficult to establish distances from the presentation drawings, and we remind RER that we were promised sections to illustrate views from the south and west, but these have not materialised.  What we do observe is that the Milner Road properties are just 14 metres from the boundary, and thus the flats on the western and southern flank of RER’s proposal are likely to need to be single aspect to avoid overlooking, loss of privacy and intrusion issues, which would be very poor and unacceptable design.

Amenity space
We note the amenity space standards in the Council’s Design SPD of 50 sq m plus up to 10 sq m per dwelling where private amenity is not provided, and point out that these are minimums and required to provide residents with space to relax and have quiet enjoyment.  We cannot see any dimensions on the courtyards, but given RER propose in the order of 100 flats we think they will be hard pressed to meet this minimum requirement in each of the courtyards proposed.

The irony is that the existing lawful use for a large part of the site is sports related – the tennis courts – that in recent times were used by SCC as a car park without the benefit of planning permission for change of use.  It is regrettable that RBK did not intervene and require SCC to restore the tennis courts. It is noted that the tennis court perimeter fence remains. The redevelopment presents an opportunity to correct this position and restore this land to its intended recreational use. This will provide an exciting, active recreational facility providing a public benefit for new and existing local residents, which is currently lacking in RER’s proposed scheme.

In summing up on RER’s proposals for the Surrey Club/tennis courts site, we consider our concerns to be fundamental issues that cannot be overcome by design changes to a proposal for dense flatted development.  These issues that you have not addressed require a fundamental rethink about the Surrey club / tennis courts site.  Added to which as RER know there is a restrictive covenant on the Surrey Club and tennis courts land that the Milner and Woodbines residents understandably fully intend to enforce to protect their assets.

We are encouraged that RER propose an element of public benefit in the scheme – the publicly accessible northern courtyard garden, but we do not support RER’s suggestion that was raised in discussion that this would need to be gated.  We support the Council’s opposition to gated communities (RBK Residential Design Guide SPD), as we know spaces that are overlooked and are active will police themselves with no need for gates.

Two points in regard to the Milner Road frontage:
·      Firstly, while not explicitly referred to on the RER presentation slides, we understand that it is RER’s intention to convert nos. 5-7 Milner Road into flats.  We note that the proposals for what RER refer to as the Staff canteen site would result in the gardens of nos. 5-7 being chopped in half.  We are totally against this proposal, and note that this would be another element of this proposal that is contrary to the adopted Kingston Development Plan, a Plan that this Residents’ Association helped create and a Plan we support. Please refer to Policies DM14 and KT1 of the Core Strategy that seek to protect dwellings such as 5-7, dwellings that are suitable to provide the small to medium sized family housing needed particularly in the Kingston Town neighbourhood (this includes Milner Road) because of the proliferation for many years of flats and apartment accommodation that is not suitable for families.  To provide choice and opportunity for families to find suitable housing in Kingston Town we do need to resist proposals such as RER’s for nos. 5-7 Milner Road.

·      Secondly, now that RER has dropped the Milner Road ‘pavilions’, we would like to see more climate change mitigating tree planting and soft landscaping on the cobbled Milner Road former car park area. Indeed we are hopeful that RBK and the GLA will pursue London Plan car parking standards, and insist on a car free development given that County Hall is located within a Metropolitan town centre and has a PTAL rating of 6a. Thus, there will be plenty of room for soft landscaping for the benefit of any new and existing residents and the environment.  As mentioned by residents at your engagement event, Surrey County Council cemented the cobbles in place a few years ago leaving us with a legacy of a large area of impervious surface and water run off issues.  Addressing this would help you deliver some public benefit.

Mary Webb

Surrey County Hall redevelopment


The initial consultation proposals are available to view on-line at the project website www.formersurreycchq.co.uk along with a link for feedback. (or you can access the exhibition boards here if that link stops working) The deadline for feedback to be submitted is 31st July. Following this the developers will be considering all the comments and then holding further public consultation in early September. It is clear despite our earlier feedback the developers intend to press on with entirely inappropriate tall buildings directly adjacent to the gardens in Woodbines Avenue and ‘pods’ (houses!) on the grade 11* listed cobbles on Milner Road.

We have submitted our comments here (opens Pdf in browser window)

Proposed Project Timeline

  • Feedback deadline: 31st July 2021
  • Second Public Exhibition: Early September 2021
  • Application submission: Autumn 2021
  • Determination: Spring 2022

Please make every effort to comment on the proposals, it is very important that the developers can see our community activity at work.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with your concerns and comments. (chair@riversideresidents.org.uk)


Due to the foresight, persistence and hard work of Tony Sharples of Woodbines Avenue (RRA planning and development subgroup member), Historic England have amended the listing of County Hall from a Grade 11 Listed building to a Grade 11* listed building. The impact on the developer is speculative at this stage as we just don’t know (1) what they will propose (2) how Kingston planning/Historic England will react and what they will allow. We expect the preservation of Surrey County Hall as a national historic asset will carry greater weight in any planning decisions due to its enhanced Grade II* listing.

Please follow the link below to download a copy of Historic England’s advice report, which gives the principal reasons for this decision. The List entry for this building, together with a map, has now been published on the National Heritage List for England, and is available for public access. This List can be accessed through Historic England’s website here.

Listing helps Historic England to mark a building’s significance and celebrate its special architectural and historic interest. It brings specific protection so that its special interest can be properly considered in managing its future.

Please be aware that the listing of the building took effect on the day that the List entry was published on the National Heritage List for England.

Great work Tony!

You should have received a notification from the developers of County Hall to view their proposals. Details attached, in case you have not seen them. Here are the dates and with COVID restrictions easing, this will take place in a marquee alongside Penrhyn Road.

Public drop in event 1
Wednesday 21st July 5 pm – 8 pm

Public drop in event 2
Thursday 22nd July 2 pm – 6 pm

The initial proposals are also available to view on-line at the project website www.formersurreycchq.co.uk from Wednesday 21st July. There will also be an online feedback form. The deadline for feedback to be submitted is 31st July. Following this the developers will be considering all the comments and then holding further public consultation in early September.

Please make every effort to attend and comment on the proposals, it is very important that the developers can see our community activity at work.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with your concerns and comments. (chair@riversideresidents.org.uk)


Now that County Hall has been sold, the RRA committee asked to meet with the purchasers (RER) at an early date in the development process which we duly did last Tuesday evening. (4th May)

They are in the beginning of the planning procedure and shown left is the key screenshot of their presentation. (Full presentation PDF here) It seemed to us that much is as it was in Surrey County Council’s proposal but with the inclusion of townhouses on the Covid testing site (they called them pavilions!) and possibly slightly lower and more spaced out buildings on the south side but still backing onto the gardens in Milner/Woodbines.

They anticipate providing 350 accommodation units in total. The plans will be submitted next spring/summer with an anticipated start time in winter 2022 with completion in 2024.

We asked a number of questions and emphasised a variety of points that we had made previously. We raised our concerns about the loss of the walk through from Milner Road to Penrhyn Road and the level of fencing around the perimeter of SCC. RER advised that it was a condition of their buildings insurance to prevent squatters and protect the historic and other assets. They also confirmed that the two houses in Milner Road owned by RER would be renovated (again!) and not be part of the development.

At this stage we do not think there is any action that any of us can take as we await further details of the plans. The RRA planning and development subgroup are monitoring things very keenly.

RER seemed to want to engage with the residents, which was encouraging and we will continue to ask to meet with them and keep you abreast of any further developments. Early days…

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with your concerns and comments. (chair@riversideresidents.org.uk)


The new owner of County Hall, is a new and seemingly very high end residential developer called RER. Recent projects include the conversion of a Grade II Listed Georgian building in Richmond (link).

The outline plan is vague, and stated on https://formersurreycchq.co.uk/ as “a high quality, residential led, mixed used development comprising residential units (including affordable housing) and commercial / community floorspace. Targeting submission of a detailed planning application Q3/Q4 2021 with detailed planning permission anticipated Q3/Q4 2022.”

17 Clifford Street, First Floor, Mayfair, London, W1S 3RQ
T 020 7099 1455 E contact@rer.uk.com

Useful websites
http://www.rer.uk.com/ Here, they list their recent developments
http://www.rer.uk.com/former-surrey-county-hall-hq – provides a scant outline for SCH with timeline for a detailed planning application Q3/Q4 2021 with detailed planning permission anticipated Q3/Q4 2022.

RER have set up a new company RER Kingston Limited purely to hold the County Hall development.

For clarity, the Bittoms car park was not included in the sale and this remains in the ownership of the County Council. We are in touch with the developer retained communications consultancy BECG (Built Environment Communications Group) and are arranging an online meeting with them, possibly week commencing 3rd May.

Covid test facility Milner Road

Dear Denise

I am writing on behalf of the Riverside Residents Association (RRA) to express some concerns about the testing centre:

  • Residents are fully aware of the need for testing centres and have little objection to County Hall being used.
  • However, we still think that the front of County Hall is a better site for access and visibility and remain unconvinced that access issues have prevented its use. Several pantechnicon lorries are often on the front of County Hall when filming is in progress as well as large food trucks and other vehicles. There are also two large open courtyards that might have been used and similar large vehicles drive in and out of them.
  • Milner Road is a very quiet residential road and we are concerned about the level of noise that the site will generate both from members of the public and from staff. Noise echoes from the hard surfaces of the buildings and staff arriving seven days a week in time to begin work at 8a.m. could well disturb residents. We have had long standing agreements with County Hall about start times for activity in the carpark and with delivery vehicles. We are also concerned about noise generated from those waiting to be tested.
  • By definition, members of the public will be feeling unwell when they come for tests and there have been no re-assurances that they will not be walking along the pavements in The Bittoms, Oaklea Passage, Milner Road and Woodbines Avenue. For example, if they (with symptoms) are coming from Portsmouth Road then they will be walking up Woodbines Avenue, down Milner Road and into the site.
  • There are a number of residents who shielded due to health conditions and there is concern about spread from members of the public to them.
  • There is no indication of how queueing will be managed – along Milner Road and Woodbines Avenue, in the Bittoms and Woodbines Avenue?
  • We are also concerned about litter. Across Kingston there has been a proliferation of discarded face masks, tissues, coffee cups which are therefore likely to occur in the car park – all potential health hazards for residents.

Lack of consultation with residents where these issues could have been raised and discussed is of serious concern, the expectation is that that there should have been dialogue to allay fears about spread to the residents as the host community.

I look forward to your urgent response as a letter has just arrived telling us that work will begin tomorrow.

Mary Webb
Vice Chair

Riverside Residents Association

Good afternoon Mary,

Thank you for your message and my apologies for the delay in coming back to you.

The rear car park of Surrey County Hall was one of three potential sites which were considered by the Department for Health and Social Care at the site survey last Thursday.

The car park in front of County Hall was also considered, and was Kingston Council’s preferred option. Unfortunately it does not have sufficient width to accommodate both staff and removal vehicles plus the testing pods in a safe way.

The testing facilities are all self enclosed units and should generate little noise, some will also have a flexible covering which will also help to reduce and absorb any noise from the site. Surrey County Hall operating hours are from 06:30 -18:30, with the building remaining open until 20:00, so the testing site will keep within the normal opening times. The entire site will be surrounded by fencing to make sure it is secure, and we hope to cover the fencing in artwork to make it look a little bit less clinical.

As it currently stands, each person attending the site will have registered and will be given a prearranged time slot for their test. Therefore, long queues are not anticipated, but to address any possible noise from those waiting, we can place signs reminding attendees to respect local residents and keep quiet.

Anyone attending the site will need to walk as there is no vehicular access. When an appointment is booked via the gov.uk booking platform the recipient of the test will be told that they must arrive by foot and wear a face covering. Anyone that does drive will be directed to the Bittoms car park. Access to the site is intended to be along the footpath of Milner Road opposite one of the fire exits from Surrey County Hall.

There will be 24/7 security to maintain an orderly site. In addition contractors will attend the site to clear waste. This will include cleaning of the toilets, clinical waste as well as general waste.

Residents who have been shielding or who are continuing to shield, should follow government guidance when out in public, wear a face covering, avoid close contact, wash your hands frequently. The Council also has a range of support for shielding residents and this can be accessed here.

I do hope this answers your concerns but please do get in touch if you need any more information and I will try to assist.


Denise Parry

Neighbourhood and Communities Manager – Kingston Town Healthy & Safe Communities, Communities Directorate

Dear Denise

I am writing on behalf of the Riverside Residents Association.

Thank you for your reply which has commented on some of the issues that I raised.

Your inbox this morning will contain emails from residents who have already been very greatly impacted by the site preparation, particularly in respect of noise and light pollution which is wholly unacceptable in a quiet residential area. I look forward to hearing your response to these concerns and for comprehensive plans to ameliorate the impact on residents. Perhaps you might consult us.

In respect of the other issues raised in my email:

  • Again, the siting of the testing centre at the rear of County Hall over the front or the courtyards is unconvincing. Both are larger and more accessible.
  • County Hall is open from 6.30 – 8p.m., people park their cars and enter so they are not in the car park for any length of time and not in any number and the longstanding arrangements with County Hall about start times for activity in the carpark and with delivery vehicles should have been considered.
  • You have not made it clear how people will access the site. Where will they enter Milner Road as other residential roads lead into it? Which fire exits from County Hall?
  • You say that long queues are not anticipated but with thousands of university students returning and thereby demands for testing dramatically increasing this could be a major problem. The rapid spread of CV19 among university students is becoming apparent. Queueing could take place down The Bittoms (alongside the Court), around the courtyards and then into the site thus keeping infected and potentially infected people away from residents as well as from the large number of other pedestrians who use the pavements of Woodbines Avenue, Milner Road, The Bittoms (residential part) to walk into Kingston and to exercise.
  • You appear to be lacking understanding of the fear that residents feel about the spread of the virus as you have not offered sufficient guarantees about the safe management of the testing centre.

To re-iterate, residents are not opposed to the siting of a centre in County Hall but the lack of consultation, reassurances and planning for it is highly unsatisfactory to say the least. Had there been dialogue with residents (Zoom is used by most people) what is now turning into a major issue could have been prevented.

I look forward to you specifically addressing these issues as a matter of urgency.

Mary Webb

Vice Chair
Riverside Residents Association

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