1. Welcome. The meeting was opened by the Mayor, Councillor Maragaret Thompson, the ex officio President of the Society.
2. Apologies for absence. Anthony Evans, Michael Davison, David Kennedy and others
3. Minutes of the previous AGM. These were unanimously approved.
4. Updates to Constitution wording. These were unanimously approved.
5. The Chairman’s report.
With Anthony Evans being away on a well earned break, this report was delivered by Vice Chairman Keith Payne, as follows:
We have been very active in regularly commenting on a wide range of Planning Applications mainly those affecting the centre of the town but not exclusively so. The Borough continues to be besieged by developers who want to maximise their sites and provide the Borough with new homes which challenge the very nature and character of the place in which most of our members either live or work here. Of course all of this is encouraged by both the Mayor of London and the GLA, but also by the Council which under the previous administration agreed to declare that the Royal Borough would become a Development Opportunity Area” which has opened up the entire Borough to veritable flood of new Applications for intensive residential development.
I’ll mention just a few of those to which we have made objections to the Council in recent months.
An Application was submitted late in 2018 for the redevelopment of the Homebase and Prince of Wales pub on the Kingston Road near Dickerage Lane . The developer Fairview Estates has now got approval up plans for around 300 new flats in blocks ranging from 5 to 9 storeys high. Another formal public consultation was supposed to have taken place last November, following various changes which the Society and local residents wanted to see incorporated in new plans, which were promised after we held one of our public meetings last September , but these revisions never materialised and the Council approved them without any reference to our objections. This appears to be a breach of planning practice, which one of our Committee is researching in terms of what might be lawfully challenged.
You can appreciate that these things take a huge amount of time and effort all of which is done on a completely voluntary basis, and I must here thank again all of my Committee for what they do on such matters.
Following another consultation which was held about plans by the supermarket operator LIDL to build a new store on Manorgate Rd. on a vacant ex commercial. Many residents were very concerned about the traffic impact this might bring. An Application was subsequently refused in the Autumn on a few issues but not on those which we raised, so we wait to see what Lidl will do, either giving up the whole idea or coming up with another scheme…?
We can take real encouragement from the outcome of the Surrey House Inquiry held in the summer, during which we supported our local authority as a witness. The inspector overturned the appeal and in his decision, stated that less than substantial harm does not mean less than substantial objection. This was on the back of some recent case law that really does strengthen our hand when an application threatens to cause harm to a historic asset.
The Kingsgate Road skyscraper application is nearing a decision. This is the 25 storey scheme we strongly opposed due to its height and far reaching harmful impact. It is one to watch out for in the coming month or so.
In 2018 the incoming council administration promised major rounds of consultation and “Conversation” exercises to engage with groups of residents and other interest groups about – amongst many other issues – the emerging new Local Plan for the Borough.
It expects to find 1360 large and small sites every year for the next 20 years!! This reflects and is in parallel with the draft London Plan which has been going through a Public Examination for most of the past year. This Plan is the long document to which our Society along with many local residents and other organisations have continually objected and challenged. As a result I understand that the GLA has been asked to reconsider the level of housing being proposed by RBK and some other outer London Boroughs, so we watch this issue.
With monthly public meetings and activities, we have had a strong year in 2019. We were very lucky to have had some very good speakers on some very pertinent topics, I would like to thank our speakers who generously came and talked to us, in order of appearance:
- Peter Karpinski
- Mark Curthoys
- Elliot Newton
- Tony Lanacster
- Diane Watling
- Andy Reid
- Nicholas Boys Smith
- Ian Harvey
And to thank George Rome Innes for not one but two guided walks in the East End.
We are still unfortunately working on the programme for this year, and I hope you will share your ideas on potential topics and speakers a little later.
Kingston Heritage Open Days were run as part of Kingston’s Heritage Festival which included Open House London – as the dates overlapped. The Society and other local heritage organisations met with the Council several times to organise the event. As a result the Council took on a greater role than in recent years. Kingston First produced a programme booklet; a promotional stall was set up in the Ancient Market and all of the printed brochures were taken. Helped by favourable weather, the Heritage Festival was a great success and visitor numbers were good. A huge thanks to Julia and Matthew Reves for their dedication in coordinating this event and representing the Society once again.
One of the festival venues was of course the Coombe Conduit. Michael Davison reported a record attendance of 100. It was a rewarding experience and visitors were intrigued. Stewards on duty, led by David Kennedy, included Jennifer Butterworth, Carol Bilney, Michael Davison, and David’s son Mark. The Coombe Conduit had a strong year, with some fairly big crowds. Thank you to David and the host of volunteers who make it open and accessible. Do let us know if you would like to be one of them.
Townscape awards 2020 – Later under AOB, Brian will talk about this briefly
New website, big thank you to Tony Lancaster its creator. This is an important and beautiful step into the 21st century for the Society.
Another important modernisation step was the introduction of the new membership system. This does a lot of managing members details, renewals and mailing lists for us. People can now join the Society online.
Recently Keith Payne and I went along to a very useful meeting hosted and organised by the Wimbledon Society who invited around 8 other Civic Societies from across South West London to meet and discuss items of common interest hoping that we could share our various experiences. It was so useful to engage and hear what we are all doing and it has been agreed that we’ll meet again in a few months’ time hosted by a different Society.
Civic Voice will be coordinating a new members drive in the summer of 2020, it will be good for us to make use of this opportunity. We could do with planning some marketing and publicity leading up to it. Any takers?
In conclusion, I want to thank all of my fellow Committee members, especially the Vice Chair; and the Secretary James, who despite being very busy, makes an important contribution to the Society. We are grateful that he has taken this role and we look forward to seeing more of him in 2020!
I’m asking once again a very important request for any members who might be prepared to step up and take over a few of the posts which have been undertaken by some of us on a temporary basis, such as the Honorary Treasurer and a ‘Meetings Organiser’. If you or anyone you know might be interested in taking on any of either of these roles then please come and have a chat with any of the Committee after the meeting this evening.
6. The Treasurer’s report. Keith Payne presented the accounts for the financial year ending 31 August 2019. The report was unanimously approved.
7. Election of Officers and Committee Members for the year 2019.
- Chairman Anthony Evans
- Vice Chairman Keith Payne
- Treasurer No nomination received
- Secretary James Giles
- Planning Secretary No nomination received
- Independent Examiner No nomination received
Committee Members. Stephanie Leitch, Jennifer Butterworth, Phillip Ballard, Brian Godding, Marguerite Perkin, Terry Bowers and David Kennedy.
Meetings Sub-Committee Secretary: Tony Lancaster
The nominations were unanimously approved.
8. Suggestions from the membership for future activities. Peter Karpinski suggested that we open Coombe Conduit on National Civic Day on Saturday 20 June in addition to or instead of the 2nd Sunday of June (14th), try to recruit more members to the Society. We should also think about ways Civic Voice could support local civic societies if it is in a position to provide funding, e.g. by helping increase membership.
9. Address by the Chairman. The Mayor, a Kingston resident for 36 years, reviewed the various activities of the Society and stated her appreciation for the work done for the good of the Borough. She explained the difficult position council is in with the pressure to approve planning applications for homes, because if they don’t approve enough the planning decisions will be taken out of their hands. The Mayor wished the Society every success for 2020 and offered an invitation to visit the mayoral suite, complete with chocolate biscuits..
10. Any other business.
10.1 Brian spoke on the Townscape awards being held later this year, and called for nominations. He as received one so far.
10.2 There being no further business, the chairman closed the formal part of the meeting and Danielle Oshaugissey proceeded to give us a brief introduction to the work of Love Kingston. Afterwards all present were invited to retire for informal discussions over drinks and nibbles.