Having read through the Head of Planning and Transport’s report for the Development Control Committee next Tuesday on the above planning application, I feel I must write to register my grave concerns as a resident of Knight’s Park.
The report begins by listing over 17 pages of comments received to consultation, the vast majority of which are negative. The report then goes on the address, over some 35 pages, of how the application responds to the Council’s various policies. However, it makes no further mention of the various objections raised in the 17 pages beforehand. The only direct response included is a verbatim regurgitation of the applicant’s response to Historic England. Therefore the report is, in my view, entirely biased and unfit for purpose.
As a local resident, who raised several objections to the proposed plans, I am left wondering who is representing my voice in this process? Mr Evans’ report tells me at para 200:
“The view from the residential parts of the Fairfield/ Knights Park conservation area would change significantly. Currently the site is a void, a gap in the urban fabric. It is noted that any development coming forward would occupy this void. The proposal for a high quality development in this void will make a positive contribution to the view from this location.”
I have to say I fundamentally disagree with his assessment. It would make an entirely negative contribution to the current pleasant evening view I enjoy of the open sky and sunset. It will impair that view with a high rise tower block. What is more disturbing, however, is that an entirely subjective and arbitrary view from a council officer can be presented in a report as some sort of reasoned professional opinion. It completely ignores the widely and strongly expressed views of the residents of my road.
Para 269 states in relation to the highest tower block that “given its demonstrated high quality design it would from many viewpoints be an asset to Kingston”. Another unsubstantiated subjective opinion, which is entirely contradicted by the view of the weight of public and professional opinion from the Design Review Panel to Historic England.
Following the previous committee meeting on 2 June, Mr Hudson released a press statement saying:
“This council is determined to introduce more transparency into the planning process and give local people the opportunity to get involved and help shape large scale proposals.”
Mr Evans’ report, which only addresses the application’s fit with Council policies, singularly fails to address the varied objections raised by many Kingston residents during consultation and on 2 June. In my view, it is simply a brazen attempt at advocacy for the applicant’s case. So where is the public involvement in this process?
The financial viability assessment, underpinning the pitiful number of affordable homes for local residents, has been hidden from the public view. I have separately requested this under the Freedom of Information Act, but have failed to receive a response from the Council. There is overriding public interest in this information being released into the public domain, given the applicant’s abject failure to meet the Council’s policy in this regard, and the Council has refused to do so. So where is the transparency in this process?
I sincerely hope that on the 23 June members of the committee will take due regard of the genuine concerns of the Kingston public at the scale and density of the proposed development, together with its many contraventions of Council policy, and add the appropriate counterweight to Mr Evans’ entirely unsatisfactory paper.
Grove Ward Resident