Surrey County Council (SCC) has taken the decision to vacate County Hall and are commencing local consultation on the redevelopment of the site ahead of making a planning application to Kingston Council in early 2021.
This is the SCC heritage statement from the first exhibition:
HERITAGE These proposals seek to preserve and enhance the historic heart of the Grade II Listed County Hall for the future. The original 1893 building as well as the 1930’s Vincent Harris wing and courtyard will sit at the heart of this new mixed use revitalised development. Many of the original large representative spaces will be retained for public accessible use. A detailed Heritage Impact Assessment reviewing alternative ways of repurposing this very special heritage asset was carried out and reviewed together with Historic England. They were very supportive of the approach outlined below. Retention of all important heritage elements The vast majority of the exterior of all the buildings built before 1963 will be retained. This includes the most important historic element including the clock tower and all the original 1893 County Hall building. New mansard roof & conversion of the 1938 block on Milner Road We are proposing two additional floors into a new mansard roof on the section fronting Milner Road. So the roof levels align on the western side. The block will also be converted to a residential usage. Refurbishment of the 1963 wing on Milner Road This element is believed to have ‘low heritage significance’ meaning that limited modifications can reasonably be pursued. Demolition of 1982 Computer wing The heritage assessment designated this building as having ‘limited to no heritage value’. We are proposing to demolish this section and build a more sensitive development.
In the second virtual consultation presentation Surrey County Council makes these claims for their proposals: (their words)
“The scheme will be heritage-led and deliver the following:
Approaching 500 new residential units
A new publicly accessible flexible use for the historic 1893 element of County Hall
Purpose built office space at the lower podium level of the new Bittoms development
Active retail / commercial space at street level along Oaklea Passage
A suitable amount of dedicated parking
There are a wide range of benefits that this project can deliver and the bullet points below are just a handful of the positive outcomes of this development:
Providing much-needed new homes The maximum viable affordable housing provision 7,500 sqm of commercial employment space A vastly improved public realm Safeguarding the long-term future the historic elements of County Hall”
Local residents groups are entirely unconvinced both by the proposals themselves and the quality of the consultation
The main points raised by local group Riverside Residents Association are summarised below:
The consultation process is inadequate and large numbers of residents were not informed about it.
There has been no initial community engagement, the Riverside Residents Association has worked with Surrey County Council previously so is aware of our existence.
The proposal is in conflict with the Local Development Plan that designates the County Hall site for Civic or Educational uses.
A convincing case for the need for 400/500 new build residential units (all flats) was not put forward.
The density of the proposed new build residential units is excessive.
The height and massing of the proposed new build residential units is hugely disproportionate.
The integrity of County Hall as a Grade 2 Listed landmark building in Kingston will be greatly compromised by the new builds.
There is a marked absence of green space in the plans.
Access, traffic and parking are of major concern.
Pressure on local services such as nurseries, schools, GP practices will be intensified.
Pressure on utilities such as local roads, water, power, sewers, broadband will be intensified.
There is no public benefit identified: such as recreational space, amenities for public use, etc.
Full details of their response are here on their website and the response by BECG (the communication consultants for SCC) are here