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.”