Request for Environmental Impact Assessment Scoping Opinion
20/02462/EIASCO | Request for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Scoping Opinion for redevelopment to provide for a residential led masterplan, incorporating conversion of parts of the County Hall building, new build within its grounds and demolition and redevelopment of the Bittoms Multi-Storey Car Park. | Surrey County Hall Penrhyn Road Kingston Upon Thames KT1 2EA
What is an EIA? An EIA is prepared by a scheme’s promoter (alongside a planning application) to identify environmental issues, potential impacts and to identify actions that can be taken as part of a development to avoid/mitigate the impacts. The scoping request is the first stage in this process (promoter requesting an opinion from the Local Planning Authority as to whether an EIA is required), and as we see Surrey County Council (SCC) have already prepared a scoping report that identifies what they consider to be the environmental issues and sets the parameters for measuring impact. We think they have prepared the scoping report because the proposal is above the 150 dwelling threshold, and SCC feel they will need to consider all the issues when they come to submit the planning application.
Given this stage (the Scoping Report) considers the technicalities of how to identify and measure environmental issues, rather than the detail of the environmental assessment itself, we think it is best left to the specialists at the Environment Agency, Natural England, Heritage England
etc and the Borough planners to scope out the parameters.
On the policy position:
The Kingston Town Centre Area Action Plan (AAP) and Core Strategy plus the London Plan are the adopted development plan – and are helpful because the AAP specifically designates County Hall for civic or educational uses, within the civic/educational quarter.
The Direction of Travel (DoT) document (2016) says some helpful things on the Kingston Town Centre page (26/27) …Protection of the historic environment …new growth must be balanced with the unique heritage… Enhanced and improved higher educational facilities.
Clearly the thinking in the DoT remains aligned with the approach in the AAP. It’s helpful because it was prepared with the Mayor of London, and it is certainly not signalling a free for all or an ‘anything goes’ approach in terms of how change will be introduced.
The Local Plan (LP) [early engagement version – 2019] – reinforces the importance of educational uses amongst the employment and other uses in a town centre. But, does not refer to the site or area, and has little of specificity on any issue.
Call for sites (2019) – published at the same time as the LP early engagement. Includes County Hall (pg 92/3). We do not know, but need to find out who promoted it. It’s ‘proposal’ is ‘non-residential only’.