Welcome to the Kingston upon Thames Society

We serve the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, which includes Chessington, Coombe, the Maldens, Surbiton and Tolworth.
New members are always welcome.


Eden ‘Campus’ applicant reduces residential tower to 16 storeys… Read more here

In an unprecedented move the leader of the Council Caroline Kerr announced her role in an amended Eden ‘Campus’ application proposing the height of the residential tower at 16 storeys:

“We listened to feedback from residents and key stakeholders and asked for revised, more acceptable plans to be submitted for consultation. In terms of height and impact these changes are welcomed. However, we remain concerned that this means that affordable housing has now been removed from the plans.”

The cynical among us might wonder if there was perhaps an undisclosed agenda? Given the flawed pre-application advice is the council seduced by the dangling carrot of new jobs rather than good placemaking?

The site landowner NFU Mutual has chosen an aggressive stance, cynically dangling the prospect of largely illusory new jobs against a flagrant disregard for the planning failures of their proposals. Their previous application was overwhelmingly rejected by the planning inspectorate and yet those same non-compliances reappear in the current application brazenly green-lighted by our planning officers as if they were unaware of the previous scheme.

In particular we are extremely concerned that rather than alerting the promoter to the policy tests within the development plan and to national guidance, which would have encouraged them to think again, the pre-application advice ignored the statutory plan, ignored the guidance of the statutory heritage authority and did precisely the opposite of what it should have done, offering support and encouragement to the promoter for a scheme that runs counter to adopted policy. It is hardly a surprise that the consultation ignored all the feedback it received and that the architectural renders for the first and second consultations look the same. This application highlights one the many problems of the planning process where pre-app approval results in mere ‘tick-boxing’ consultation where the developer has no intention of responding to comments that do not align with their plans.

The NFU proposals which, had they engaged with key stakeholders, could have resulted in the full provision of affordable housing had they adopted something like the detailed suggestions we made. Using local architects and planning experts we proposed a scheme that put the carpark underground, where it should be and delivered the requirements of the landowners but without excessively high buildings that damage historic and protected assets: (https://edencampusviews-preapplication.carrd.co/#alternative-ways-forward) Affordable housing is calculated as a percentage so we see no reason why a reduced number of affordable homes is not viable. We were expecting a much better revision than this 16 storey residential tower which simply reconfirms NFU Mutual’s aggressive strategy which is very disappointing.

We will continue to work for the best overall result which should involve scrapping this poorly conceived application in favour of scheme that better meets the town’s needs and aspirations.

Our mission

The Kingston upon Thames Society exists to promote high standards of planning, conservation and design in the Royal Borough.

We are

The Kingston upon Thames Society, founded in 1962 and affiliated to the Civic Trust. We are Kingston’s major voluntary and independent organisation concerned with planning and conservation.

We do

  • Society representation on applications, consultations, meetings of local conservation and planning bodies

  • A monthly public meeting, with a guest speaker, on a topic of local interest

  • Co-ordination of the borough’s Heritage Open Days programme

  • Custodian of the Coombe Conduit ancient monument

  • A Newsletter for members every month

  • Townscape Awards for new buildings of distinction

  • Visits to buildings of interest, and outings to historic towns

  • Partnership with other groups in community projects

  • Leaflets and Booklets on subjects of local interest

Reviewing new planning proposals

A significant part of the Society’s activity is to review and comment on planning consultations and applications. Each week Kingston Council publishes a list of new Planning Applications, and we comment on those we think are most important,  enabling us to tackle planning problems at their source.

Our Major Schemes page covers the most significant planning applications, such as Tesco Tolworth and The Old Post Office site.

Our Minor Schemes page covers other applications that are on our radar or of concern to us.

Our Other Consutations page covers non application consultations, such as the formulation of the London Plan and Local Plans.

Celebrating some of the good things in the Borough

We organise Kingston’s Heritage Open Days where free entry is offered to interesting buildings that are normally closed to the public. England Heritage Open Days 2019 was 13-22 September and Open House London 2019 took place on 21-22 September.

We recognise good local architecture and design through our Townscape Awards. These were last awarded in October 2017.

We act as guardian of one of Kingston’s most important ancient monuments, Coombe Conduit,  built around 1540 as part of a system to collect fresh water from springs on Kingston Hill and channel it to Hampton Court Palace.

Monthly public meetings

The Society wants to increase and improve the debate on what the Royal Borough of Kingston is and what it could be. One way we do this is through our regular public meetings.

We are currently accepting guest speaker bookings for 2020 and have some interesting guests already scheduled  – please contact us for further details.

Full details of our public meetings, and guest speakers and talks are on the Coming Events page

Visits and Socials

The Society organises occasional visits to explore the good and the bad of architecture and design. In 2019 our popular Summer Guided walk started opposite the Whitechapel Art Gallery, Aldgate East to explore the EAST END.

Our Society Summer Picnic, returned again in 2019 which was enjoyed by all who could make it.

Details for upcoming visits and social events will be posted on the Coming Events page.

Major Schemes

We are trying to get the best designs and outcomes from the real plethora of new developments that are facing residents. Lately most of them are predicated on the alleged increase in the population of Greater London in the next 15 years (for Kingston this will mean around 30% more residents than now) and the suggested building of Crossrail 2, again in the next 15/20 years’ time which will affect virtually all the stations and forever change the face of this Borough.

Cromwell Road

Aroch Limited is preparing to submit a planning application for a residential led mixed-use development at 28- 46 Cromwell Road and John Bunyan Baptist Church

Eden ‘Campus’ campaign

This is an opportunistic over-development that the Council appears to be supporting despite the proposals ignoring ALL planning guides in place to protect Kingston’s unique heritage assets with HUGE implications that will impact the WHOLE TOWN

Kingston News

Become a member of the Kingston Upon Thames Society

Why you should join

If you share our interest in protecting, celebrating and enhancing our Royal Borough then you can join the Society to get more involved and to have more of a say on what the Society does.

We are open to new members

How to join

You can join online for as little as £10 per year, using the link below.

Join us now

Together we can help make Kingston better for all

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