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“A pound shop offering and a one-finger salute to the residents of Kingston” says resident as TOPO development debated at Council

James Giles

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Tensions were high at a meeting of the Kingston Development Control Committee, which saw developers Saint George go against the Kingston Residents Alliance in a continuing battle over the future of the Old Post Office site.

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Over 200 residents attended the meeting, wherein the public gallery had to be extended to three rooms and police were eventually called to turn people away, as an additional 25 people were forced to stand outside the meeting room. Children as young as eight came to oppose the plans.

One local resident, who was forced to stand outside the meeting room, told Coombe Monthly:

‘People are standing up for themselves. We made our way in, in the name of democracy and our rights! My son is 17, and I have seen children as young as eight and ten here tonight.’

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Those in the public gallery opposing the plans included Dame Jacqueline Wilson and local resident and Love Kingston ambassador Tessa Kind, who has been one of the lead campaigners against the proposed development.

Developers described the current site as being ‘an eyesore for far too long, and it is quite frankly embarrassing.’, going on to say that the proposals would ‘reconnect a long-lost piece of the puzzle to Kingston’s Town Centre’.

Ros Morgan, CEO of KingstonFirst, also spoke in favour of the development, saying:

‘There’s no doubt that Kingston is a great place, but this is not enough… Kingston First is supportive of the principles of the Post Office plans. The plans offer the opportunity to invigorate this part of the town, which is long overdue.’

However the Kingston Residents Alliance, which has the backing of 20 organisations who oppose the proposals, including our neighbouring borough of Richmond, spoke fiercely against the proposals.

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Resident after resident sat down in front of the committee and spoke about why they opposed the plans; key points raised by the opposition were affordable housing, the public realm and the sunlight/shade impact.

One resident told the committee:

‘Architecture should be of merit when over 9 stories and should not disrupt view. St George has failed to represent the real concerns of Kingston residents. The revised proposals are insulting. To put it simply, too much is being asked of this site in this proposal.’

The closing statement of one resident received the largest applause and cheer of the evening from the gallery. He told the committee:

‘I’m appalled and saddened that this pound shop offering has been put before the council. It is called a gateway, to what? West Croydon? The development offers nothing than a ‘one finger salute to the residents of Kingston.’

You can catch our full summary of events, live as it happened, here: http://coombemonthlycouk.ipage.com/live-kingston-development-control-committee/

Later today, Coombe Monthly will also be publishing our photographs taken of the model developers have been moving around town during the consultation.

James Giles is the Editor of the Kingston Enquirer, covering local news and events in Kingston, New Malden, Surbiton, Tolworth and Chessington.

Kingston Town

Lib Dems in CHAOS after 2000 sign petition on parking charges… but refuse to back down

James Giles

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Kingston Lib Dems are in chaos after refusing to back down on controversial changes to parking permits in the borough, instead announcing an amended scheme which has been blasted by residents as ‘hap-dash and ill-thought-out’.

The proposals would have resulted in a 350% hike in the cost of a parking permit for some residents in the borough, whilst newly purchased Teslas would get to park for free.

Instead, amended proposals announced today mean that cars will, this year, face a cost of up to £245, up from the current £90, but down from the proposed £465.

In a press release explaining the rationale for the latest amendment, Councillor Hilary Gander said: “I believe that differential parking is one measure that will go towards achieving [cleaner air in Kingston].

“It seems, however, we may have moved too fast and not fully explained our approach.”

The ruling Lib Dem administration has, refused to rule out increasing the charges again next year, and have not announced how they are plugging the £525,000 gap this will leave in their budget for this financial year.

New Malden resident Angie, who lives in Queens Road, said: “It’s clear to me from what the Lib Dems have written that they fully intend to increase permit costs again next year – it’s not a case of ‘moving too fast’, it’s a case of these charges being discriminatory and unfair.

“How on earth can the Council practically halve these figures on a whim. It just proves that this is not really about tackling the issue of air quality, it’s about making a quick buck.”

Campaigners who set up a group to attempt to halt these proposals say that this latest amendment will not reduce local opposition to the plans, and are urging residents affected to attend Full Council at the Guildhall next Wednesday, starting at 7:30pm, where they have forced the Council to debate the issue by raising a community motion.

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