A massive new mixed development on the site of Kingsgate Road and Canbury Place Car Park north of Kingston Town Centre is nearing the end of its consultation phase. 

The initial application by the developers, Kingston Gate Property Ltd, in September 2019 was handed from Kingston council to the Mayor of London, whose team rejected the plan over concerns that the development would appear too bulky in the townscape and would not provide enough affordable housing. Amendments were made by the developers in June 2020 and March 2021 which lowered the height of the development from 25 to 17 stories and slightly increased levels of affordable housing. 

The current proposal involves two phases. Phase 1 is the larger of the two, with two 17 storey high buildings containing a total of 316 flats, office space, a gym and a nursery. It would be built on the council-owned Canbury Place car park and privately-owned 12-52 Kingsgate Road, which is currently lying derelict following the demolition of Kingsgate Business Centre in 2016. Phase 2 would see the demolition of the parade of shops from 13-43 Richmond Road and would be replaced by a 6 storey building with shops on the ground floor and 73 flats above. All property would be rented. The development would also result in the permanent closure of Kingsgate Road with traffic diverted along Seven Kings Way and a new left-hand turn off Sopwith Way.

Despite rejecting the initial application, the principle of the development is ‘strongly supported’ by the Mayor of London. The Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames was identified as an Opportunity Area in the 2016 London Plan by the Mayor with ‘scope for significant change’. The plan sets a target for Kingston borough of around 9000 new homes in the next 15 years with an annual target of 643 homes per year. Thus there is support at City Hall for high density residential developments as proposed at Kingsgate Road if they reach the necessary 30% affordable threshold, which this development still falls short of by 5%.

However local residents continue to feel that the current proposal is out of place. The opposition is being spearheaded by two groups, the Kingston-Upon-Thames Society (KTS) and North Kingston Neighbourhood Forum (NFNK). In an interview Diane Watling, chairperson of NFNK, stated the primary objection was the ‘intrusive’ height of the building which at 17 stories was higher than the maximum 12 stories allowed in the North Kingston Development Brief which Kingston council had produced in 2016 in conjunction with local residents. It would also be twice as tall as any existing building in the vicinity and as a result residents argue that it would debase the townscape from several key angles including the protected Richmond Park view. Moreover the view from the north towards the historic All Saints Church would be obscured. 

Another major concern is traffic issues caused by closing Kingsgate Road. Specifically should phase 2 not happen due to its smaller size (and thus profitability) as well as financial and legal complications from buying 14 freeholds in Richmond Road, the vital second route for traffic via Sopwith Way would not be built. 

In her interview, Watling was keen to stress that local residents were ‘not NIMBYs’ and recognised both the need for development and the potential of the derelict brownfield area. However it was their belief that the current proposals were nowhere near reaching the London Plan’s requirement of ‘exemplar design’ and ‘completely ignored’ the local Development Brief.

The status of the development is still ‘pending consideration’ according to Kingston council. The NFNK will be holding a meeting soon to produce a Neighbourhood Plan for the North Kingston area. Local residents may comment on the Kingston Council website in support or opposition until 22 April using the following link. https://publicaccess.kingston.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=makeComment&keyVal=PY2LSHNH00H00 

A list of all the documents submitted to the council concerning the project are here. https://publicaccess.kingston.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=documents&keyVal=PY2LSHNH00H00