On 2nd June, we attempted to present this in the short time given. Here is the Full Text version.
Admirable parts of the proposal include saving and revitalizing the listed buildings on the site. We pay tribute to the work of TOPO and St George for plans inside the listed buildings - but we share the views of many notable objectors including Historic England; the Design Review Panel; and The Victorian society on what is proposed on the outside.
We welcome putting this unloved site to good use and acknowledge the dire need for more housing in the borough. However as we saw past the gloss of the public consultation brochures we realised that this was way beyond what could be acceptable. Our group came about over this development - we're all kinds of people from all sorts of backgrounds with this one shared concern. Its a David and Goliath situation: some 4300 submission pages, no budget, no workforce. Our hope is that the Council and St George will listen and take heed of the deeply held belief of thousands of residents - that this proposal as it stands - should be refused.
At the Kingston Town Neighbourhood Committee meeting on 14th we laid out 9 points which we are not going to repeat but where we highlighted the many and significant policy contraventions that we believe weigh conclusively against the proposal in its current form. We ask that you duely consider these points, copies of which are now in your possession.
Today I wish to briefly speak about the impact of this proposal on the site and context, then we have other speakers who will address
2. Affordable housing
3. Urban design
4. Aesthetic design
5. Density & Infrastructure
6. What could be acceptable & conclusion
The overall scale of the project is alien to Kingston and will have an extremely negative impact on its particularly fine surrounding historic fabric.
At 61.6m high and 19 storeys, Tower J breaches current tall building heights in the vicinity. About double the height of Unilever house at 35m, and about a third higher than Kingston college at around 44m. It contravenes the London Plans requirement for "particular consideration" for tall buildings in sensitive places.
The 13 storey tower on Ashdown rd will compromise the site to the north and dramatically overshadow and restrict daylight. Unbelievably both towers are proposed at approximately double the height guidelines of the Eden Quarter Development brief.
Not only will the overall massing of the new buildings totally crush the listed buildings on the site: Especially the old Post Office, a valuable local landmark - and its proposed square. The taller sections will also inevitably be seen from many miles away, greatly intruding in many quiet, small scale residential streets and leisure settings that have survived through the centuries. These tall buildings will have a significant visual impact on our Primary landmarks: All Saints Church, the Guildhall and Kingston Bridge - all of which Policy 7.7 of the area action plan requires to be protected, along with the important views and vista. "Protection should be through sensitive control of height and massing of any new development" The view from the Market Square is a clear infringement with the tower clearly rising above the historic skyline.
We encourage the Committee to take heed of Historic England's 11 page response. We agree with it, and with their statement, that " the development would detract from the setting of the Kingston Old Town conservation area and the Fairfield /Knights Park conservation Areas, failing to meet the statutory test to preserve and enhance the character and appearance of locally and nationally designated heritage assets"
If built, this development will overbear and dominate the area with its generic "commercial-mediocre" looks. It will destroy the very environment we are proud of: "Welcome to Anywhere". Kingston has a unique identity and this site deserves a unique design solution.
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