The Kingston Society response to the proposed consultation for the redevelopment of the land adjacent to Surbiton Station


The exhibition boards PDF is here and the online consultation form here


The Society has considered the consummation proposals. Here is our response:

Surbiton Station is the most imposing singular landmark element in the townscape of Surbiton. Surbiton is, arguably, one of the first railway commuter suburbs in the world. It was the station that made the town and the creator of the town, Thomas Pooley, gave the site of the present station to Surbiton to make it so. The layout of the town is all configured around the station. When James Robb Scott designed the new station building in 1937 for Southern Railway, his magnificent art deco design was a recognition of how important this particular station is. As the 20th Century Society says “his Art Deco masterpiece was Surbiton Station, in the heart of London’s commuter land” Building of the Month Feb 2017 (https://c20society.org.uk/building-of-the-month/surbiton-station-surrey)

As a listed building, the station must be treated with respect and not crowded out by inappropriate development from any of the lines of sight. As the heart of Surbiton, the case is even stronger to maintain this building as the salient singular landmark element in the townscape.

In the plans for the forecourt of the station on the Victoria Road side there is the opportunity to address what RBK’s Draft Improvement Strategy for Surbiton said back in 2009: “the initial impact [of the station] is marred by the quality of the station forecourt, the numbers of parked cars and waiting taxis” (page 10).

Our specific points on this consultation are as follows: –

  1. The function and purpose of Surbiton station and its car park for both the present day and the future need to be fully understood before any development is proposed in the car park. Some 20 years ago RB Kingston prepared a draft planning and urban design brief for the car park site when development of the site was previously suggested. That brief is almost certainly out of date given changes over the past 20 years in housing need, patterns of commuting and car parking standards for new developments amongst many other things. A new planning and urban design brief should accordingly be prepared for the site by RB Kingston and sent out for public consultation before any detailed development proposals are taken any further by Solum or any other potential developer.
  2. The development proposed by Solum appears to be generic rather than responding to the heritage and character of the local neighbourhood. In particular the proposed development does not respond adequately to either the scale of neighbouring development (no evidence of the principles of gentle density being applied are shown) nor to the specific art deco design of the existing listed station buildings, despite a number of illustrative art deco type facades being shown in the consultation document.
  3. Multi-storey car parks are particularly challenging when proposed in areas adjacent to heritage assets such as the Grade 2 listed station and the various conservation areas. Although there is a suggestion in the artist’s impressions and drawings shown in the document that the proposed car park building will be designed in an ‘art deco style’ it is not at all clear how this can be achieved satisfactorily with such a prominent massing located so close to the listed building. The residential building attached to the multi-storey car park appears to be devoid of any art deco features.
  4. The principle of developing part of the car park for affordable housing is supported but it is essential that adequate car parking is retained for station users and a high quality of public realm is provided on both sides of the station and a comprehensive approach is taken to the refurbishment and reuse of all parts of the statutorily listed buildings on the site as part of the overall development.
  5. The proposals for the station forecourt require much further thought. It is not clear that adequate provision is made for either taxis or rail replacement buses when they are needed. Experience of the Twickenham station development which requires passengers to access the station through a service yard and car park area at busy times does not bode well. Commitments need to be given as part of this development that a fully staffed booking office will be maintained. Landscaping and tree planting and enhanced biodiversity strategies need to be clearly set out.
  6. The proposed maximum height of 17 storeys exceeds both the draft Local Plan suggested maximum height of 6 storeys and the possible height set out in the more recent RBK Draft Tall Buildings Strategy which suggests that there are two locations on the site at the western and eastern ends of the car park where an indicative 12 storey height ‘may be explored’. The Kingston Society considers that the case for the heights proposed by Solum has not been justified.

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Last Updated on February 21, 2024 by Kingston Society