Yesterday evening, North Kingston Liberal Democrats submitted our response to the plans to development Canbury Business Park.
In summary, we support the need for housing in Kingston, however we can not support the plans currently set out by the application as they are unsuitable and out of keeping with the prevailing character of the area.
Our full response can be found below.
Re: Redevelopment of Canbury Business Park – Ref 17/12877/FUL
We write to formally object to the above-mentioned planning application.
Whilst we support the need for housing in London and that the Borough of Kingston will be required to contribute towards this, we feel that the proposed development is unsuitable and out of keeping with the prevailing character of the area, while key elements of the proposal are premature and have not been fully worked through and the application has been submitted without proper and meaningful engagement with the local community.
In particular we would raise the following concerns;
At the centre of this site is a 14-storey tower, which we consider to be fundamentally out of scale and character with the prevailing low rise residential nature of the surrounding streets. Moreover, the site is located outside of the “Key Area of Change” as identified in the Kingston Local Plan. However, the applicant is seeking to use consented and proposed developments within the “Key Area of Change” as precedent for the excessive height.
The applicant is also seeking to exceed the 12 storeys that were identified as a maximum height within the North Kingston Development Brief (Oct 2016). If an absolute maximum of 12 storeys were considered acceptable for an “area of change”, then the 14 storeys are completely unacceptable in an area which is predominantly made up of 2 storey housing.
We accept that the site can accommodate higher densities, but feel strongly that these cannot be sensibly achieved through the creation of unacceptably tall high-rise towers, and that there should therefore be a gradual stepping down in height from the adjacent Regal Cinema towards the lower height existing residential areas to the east of the site.
2. Affordable Housing Provision
The proposed development fails to meet the London Mayors new affordable housing target of 35% affordable housing and is well short of the Kingston Borough Council target of 50%.
This is particularly so in the context of the recent article in the The Guardian newspaper which highlighted that Kingston council spent £54m on commercial property development while only delivering one council house.
3. Community Consultation
The proposal has caused great concern in the local community. The applicant claims to have carried out extensive meetings with the local Community but in reality this consisted of a one of exhibition of proposed plans rather than a meaningful process of working collaboratively and consultatively with the local community.
We believe that a much more sustainable and inclusive design could be achieved if the applicant committed to working with the local community through design charrettes and meaningful dialogue. We ask that the current application be withdrawn so that this proper process can take place, which is more likely to result in a proposal that the local community supports and welcomes.
4. Community Facilities
We are concerned about the threat to community facilities both existing and proposed. The applicant is not clear what is to happen to the existing school located on the site and it is clear that agreement has not been reached with this existing owner. This application is therefore substantially premature and poorly thought-through, and is extremely concerning to both the school owners as well as the parents and children who attend.
Again, likewise, the proposal includes a new health care facility, but the application provides no clarity as to who will take over the new facility and whether funding is in place. The concern is that, should planning permission be secured and then no funding be available, the health facility will be lost and converted to other uses. We believe that this application is significantly premature until both these issues have been properly and satisfactorily resolved and sufficient clarity can be provided.
Whilst we note that the parking spaces provided comply with the maximum standards set out in the London Plan, we are still concerned that there is insufficient provision for the number of units being proposed. We believe that the proposed development will put unacceptable pressure on the surrounding residential streets.
6. Local employment
The site in question is currently a business park said to employ over a 1,000 people in high-quality local employment, which the proposed development is extremely unlikely even to begin to replace, and we would ask what a local employment impact assessment has been carried out by either the applicant or yourselves.
7. Applicant reliability & tender process
We note that the applicant, CNM Estates and its associates, has proved an unreliable partner in the past, and specifically so in the case of the adjacent development on the former Bingo Hall site, which is still not completed and in fact is said to be subject to financial difficulties by the contractor CNM Estates.
We are concerned that this needs to be taken fully into account in your assessment of the suitability of not only the application, but the potential fitness or otherwise of the applicant themselves. In this context, we would ask for details of the related tendering process for this application to be shared with us and/or publicly.
In summary, we formally object to the above-mentioned planning application for the reasons set out above, and would look forward to your halting the application pending an appropriate and proper public consultation and consideration of the alternatives.
North Kingston Liberal Democrats
21 Berrylands Road
Surbiton KT5 8QX
Tel: 020 3637 8327