Our greatest effort in 2021 went into fighting the damaging proposals to build a ‘Campus’ for Unilever in the town centre with its fake promise of jobs and a deeply unecological parking proposal
“Eden Campus” is not a campus but the Surrey House site in Eden Street. The really poor and damaging applications were approved with 16 stories instead of the original 22.
We fought hard under the restrictions of Covid and the misrepresented promise of “jobs”. Unusually however, the fight wasn’t over yet: the Planning Inspectorate intervened, preventing the Council and GLA from issuing planning approval while the Secretary of State considered whether to call-in the applications and conduct a public enquiry.
This was, we are proud to say, due to our call-in request made in conjunction with the United Reformed Church. Our members worked behind the scenes crafting a very detailed and thorough case which we submitted to the Secretary of State just before the DCC meeting in March. The Planning Inspectorate put things on hold until the end of August when they decided not to call-in the application. Our campaign is over but we come away with strong opinions:
We strongly believe Council officers were wrong to have given such a positive endorsement of the against-policy scheme in the pre-application advice.
We question the capability and commitment of our decision making councillors. Our attempts to engage with them to seek a better solution regarding the core issue of parking fell on disinterested ears. They failed us by approving this first submission without a demand for amendments.
The GLA are a real menace with considerable influence over applications in more than 30 Greater London Local Authorities. They were proven completely wrong in their assessments of the previous scheme by the inspector at appeal. On these applications they failed to even apply their own policies on tall buildings and on parking. And in not doing so they also created a damaging precedent.
We repeat our incredulity that the Royal Borough of Kingston has for so long been one of the few London authorities that does not employ their own permanent Conservation Architect (we now have a one year Heritage & Conservation Lead). At the pre-advice meeting a properly appointed Conservation Architect could have negotiated for a MUCH better outcome. Employing consultants after the fact and on a very tight remit is just a costly back covering exercise.
Like the previous proposals The Society objects to this Application. The plans represent a gross over development of the site and will seriously damage Kingston, its heritage assets and the town environs