Breathing new life into Kingston town centre – the Kingfisher, Cattle Market and Guildhall sites

The Town Centre Development and Renewal Development Strategy was announced on 26th November 2020.Until a few days ago the Council had not broadcast any further official news about their plans for the disposal of these buildings but they broadcast a Webinar on 19th April with Matt Collyer  – the Council Officer leading this project – alongside Steve McIntrye from Faulkner Brown – the architects who have been employed to produce concept ideas as to how the Kingfisher Centre might be redeveloped.  It wasn’t clear from what he said whether the Kingfisher building would be demolished or not. Mr Collyer was very keen to stress that all ideas from residents and stakeholders would be considered. It appears that the feasibility assessment which was allocated some months back – with a cost of £914,000 to tax payers’ is funding this exercise.

 The following is taken from the Kingston Let’s Talk website. The online survey, mentioned below, closes 25th April:

Kingston Council is starting to work on plans to renew our historic town centre to make it even better for our residents, local businesses, students, and visitors. As part of this, we are proposing to deliver a brand-new, modern community leisure, well-being, and cultural destination on the site of the Kingfisher Leisure Centre which is accessible for all our residents and offers a range of facilities that benefit everyone.

We want to create a new cultural and leisure destination which also celebrates the neighbouring Kingston Library and Museum and provides outdoor spaces which are right for Kingston, our residents and visitors, significantly enhancing this part of Kingston.

We are also looking to make better use of our existing assets, including the transformation of the Guildhall campus from under-used council offices. With more of our staff working remotely during the pandemic we have been looking at the ways in which we operate as a council, and how we can move services closer to our residents. Our current offices need significant investment, are energy inefficient and are not easily accessible.

So, we are also thinking about how we can find new appropriate uses for our buildings and invest in Kingston’s future. The Guildhall is an iconic, historic building, which we want to respect and protect. This is also a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the Hogsmill River, creating a new public space for people to experience and enjoy.

We are still at the drawing board stage of these plans and want to hear from you about what you would like to see in the new community cultural, well-being and leisure destination, and how you think the Guildhall campus could better serve Kingston.

Question three from the on-line survey

How to share your views

We’re just starting to think about these plans and want to hear what is important to you.

We want to reach as many people as possible – all ages, backgrounds and parts of the community – and we will use the feedback we gather to develop our vision and early plans for the two sites.

You can share your views on our early proposals by:

What happens next?

This is just the first stage of our engagement with you. Over the next five weeks, we are asking for your initial thoughts about what you would like to see on these sites.

We will then use this feedback to inform our work with our architects to create early concept designs for what we might deliver here. We will hold more conversations with you to get your feedback on these early designs and show you how your suggestions in the initial engagement influenced them.

We will consider your feedback on the concept designs as we finalise our proposals before a final stage of engagement ahead of submitting a planning application to the Local Planning Authority later this year.

All the different stages of engagement will take place over several months and are committing to giving our residents every opportunity to engage with us and help shape the plans for the future of the Kingfisher, Cattle Market car park and Guildhall campus sites.