EDEN ‘CAMPUS’

A three towers cluster Eden ‘Campus’ development is proposed for the Surrey House Island Site, incorporating Lever House, the Hippodrome, Brook St Carpark and Surrey House. Comprising office & residential towers, one rising to a height similar to the Tolworth Tower, another matching the Royal Exchange’s signature tower. All three would breach planning guidance.

Initial reviews of the pre-submission proposals raise serious concerns which are not highlighted in the public consultation presentations. We want to draw attention to these key issues and show that there are more sensitive alternative approaches to developing this site. Our aim is not to obstruct but to steer towards the best possible outcome: a development which is less harmful to our beautiful historic town and respectful of our established planning framework.

All Residents and Councillors are urged to review the recent public consultation as well as this review and send their opinions to the developer at EdenCampus@communitycomms.co.uk

The news that Unilever is considering consolidating its HQ in Kingston is exciting positive news for the Town. However the proposals are for a tower almost as high as Tolworth Tower, with a second building almost matching the height of the new tower at Royal Exchange. All of these contravene clear planning guidelines. Together this cluster of tall buildings would overshadow important listed buildings, blight protected historic views and importantly cause significant harm to short range views and the related public realm by overbearing and dominating the surrounding streets and houses.

Eden Campus

THE KINGSTON SOCIETY HAS THIS TO SAY ABOUT THE PROPOSALS:

The Society’s view is that Covid or not this online presentation does not qualify as consultation. Consultation is where the views of the community and other stake holders are gathered prior to a proposal. Nor does the online chat system provide an adequate solution for proving feedback or receiving answers.

In particular our objections are:

• Nowhere in the existing SDP or other plans for Kingston is there the intention to build a very tall building on this plot. A 22 storey building would be the tallest in the town by some margin. Of course it is barely cynical to suggest this is a standard ploy – suggest a very tall building and ‘compromise’ on a tall building.

• The plan proposes a retail element, an extraordinary tone-deaf idea for a town with clear evidence of the trouble the retail sector is in.

• The site proposes a 350 space carpark. Surely the days of building carparks is an irrelevance, especially above ground?

• A 22 storey residential building is another example of developers claiming to honour the town’s heritage and its aspirations with no evidence whatsoever that either of those two objectives will be met. (at 80.5m this is half a metre shy of Tolworth Tower)

• The whole site in no way represents a cohesive idea for this large and important plot, every bit as much a gateway project as was The Old Post Office. It has been divided into four discrete sections with three functions: office, residential and parking instead of grasping the opportunity to make an integrated community asset that acknowledges how things are now.

• The justification for the 22 storey building is that it will enable affordable housing. Affordable housing is a bankrupt idea, that cannot be delivered. The Old Post Office apartments, for example, range from £712,500 – £1,000,000. A 30% reduction on the cheapest flat (to approx £500,00 is simply not affordable by a key worker or indeed many people – a mortgage this size would require an income of £100,000)

• We welcome the (planned) relocation of the international Unilever HQ to Kingston, with the potential to create hundreds of new jobs but the trade off is not at any cost, certainly not at the cost of towns identity as an ancient market town.

• How is it that the design completely ignores the ideas encompassed in the Building Better Building Beautiful commission report?

About which The Housing Minister said on January 30th “The three main aims that you’ve set out with great clarity and eloquence I think will help us get there….Firstly, to demand beauty – not just for exceptional schemes that win awards, or which are the preserve of the wealthy, but for the places everyone lives in and the places we pass by every day.

Second: That we as a society, as individuals and we, as a government, must have the confidence to say no to schemes which we know in our hearts are bad for the people destined to live in them and the surrounding community….

…So let’s build more, but build better and in turning to the report’s third aim, the need to promote the lost concept of stewardship – let’s ensure that all those with a stake in this agenda take a longer-term, sustainable view of communities as communities that are places that must grow but must evolve, that must adapt but which can do so in a way that works for people.”