LIVE: Who will win #RichmondPark?

LIVE: Who will win #RichmondPark?

by 1st December 2016 0 comments

Welcome to the live Richmond Park byelection count. Tonight we will be bringing you news, gossip and results from your votes.

Stay tuned for updates throughout the night.

Send us your thoughts by tweeting #richmondpark or email j.giles@coombemonthly.co.uk

14.20

Sarah Olney won Richmond Park by c.1900 votes.

Here’s our writeup:   Christian Lib Dems pull off shock victory in Richmond Park by-election as Zac is thrown out   

01.38

We’re handing over to our live stream now, as we’re expecting a result very shortly… Follow it here:

https://livestream.com/accounts/12898419/events/6710063

01.35

More and more Liberal Democrats saying Zac has lost. Christian Wolmar is expected to arrive shortly.

01.34

Here’s the latest…
– Zac and Sarah are on their way to the count
– A result is due within 20 minutes
– Lib Dems look likely to pull off a surprise victory
– Some boxes are being recounted as the tallies don’t match.

01.17

Result is due pretty soon – Mayor of Richmond has just arrived in the building. #RichmondPark

01.13

From the Twittersphere…

01.11

From the Twittersphere…

01.10

Zac’s team aren’t looking too happy right now in the hall. #RichmondPark

01.10

01.08

We’re due a result within an hour or so. #RichmondPark

01.08

From the Twittersphere…

01.07

The BBC have just predicted a >2000 win for the Liberal Democrats here tonight. #RichmondPark.

01.06

A number of Liberal Democrats at the count seem to think that the Monster Raving Loony Party will end up 4th tonight!? #RichmondPark

00.59

00.58

00.55

Loonies in the house…

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00.54

00.51

Lord True, Leader of Richmond Council, accidentally almost wandered into one of the Loony photographs… I asked him if he was defecting – ‘certainly not!’ was the response!

00.49

Howling Laud Hope is in the building!

00.44

Some criticism of Zac’s campaign here…

Send in your thoughts using #RichmondPark!

00.42

00.42

From the Twittersphere….

00.41

From the Twittersphere….

00.40

We’ve had a really varied response to the candidates depending on what part of the constituency you’re in.

Here’s a selection of the latest from the count…

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00.36

We’ve been speaking to Alastair Carmichael, Lib Dem MP for Orkney and Shetland: “This is an extremely strong message coming from Richmond Park tonight straight to 10 Downing Street.”

00.30

Shockingly low turnout this evening…

53.7% turnout – that’s 41,367 votes.

00.21

Lib Dem source: “I think we’ve won.” #RichmondPark.

00.18

It’s looking like we could be on track to a Liberal Democrat victory here in #RichmondPark.

00.17

The sorting is just beginning over this end of the hall…

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00.16

Here’s Gareth Roberts, Sarah Olney’s election agent, with a Labour sampler…

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00.15

Here’s some of Zac’s team eagerly watching the sorting of votes…

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00.13

Andy Slaughter (right) is here tonight for Christian Wolmar’s team.

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00.12

Here’s Ben Mallet and Lord True from Zac’s team, sampling alongside a member of the Labour Party and Councillor Liz Green (LD).

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00.10

Plenty of sorting boxes around the hall as sorting officially begins…

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00.04

Verification now appears to be complete – now votes are being sorted into their respective piles. Turnout figure expected soon.

00.03

00.02

It’s midnight – verification is still well underway! #RichmondPark.

00.01

More predictions from the Twittersphere…

00.00

Labour source: “Zac’s f***ed up big time.”

23.58

and more from the Twittersphere…

23.58

Apologies for the intermittent service over the last 20 mins or so – we’ve had website issues… All now resolved!

23.35

Other voters complain about the sheer volume of Lib Dem literature through the doors…

23.34

Will this ‘support’ for Zac’s campaign work against his ‘independent’ status?

23.33

Lord True, leader of Richmond Council, has arrived to help sample for Zac Goldsmith’s campaign.

23.23

23.22

More from the Twittersphere…

23.20

Yet more boxes now emerging to be verified at the Richmond Park count.

23.20

Some unhappy with Labour’s presence at this by-election:

Others see it as offering alternative to austerity… Here’s Christian Wolmar’s view on the Lib Dems and a ‘progressive alliance’…

#WolmarforRichmond: Liberal Democrats are no champions of the anti-Tory vote

23.17

23.17

We’ve just spoken with Andy Slaughter MP who has told us that ‘up until this weekend, non-Tory voters were undecided, but today a number have said ‘we’re not going to vote Lib Dem’ which is testament to what a great candidate Christian is.’

23.09

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23.08

Samplers for various candidates are busy sampling the votes and gathering data to provide predictions and models…

We’ve got samplers from the Lib Dems, Zac Goldsmith, Labour and, rather surprisingly, the Christian People’s Alliance.

23.06

Zac’s agent has just arrived – Sarah Olney’s agent has been busy sampling!

23.02

Verification is well and truly underway – with some teams now awaiting more boxes!

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23.01

22.59

The Twittersphere is alive with rumour that Labour has lost its deposit…

22.57

The Lib Dems today had activists flocking into Richmond Park from as far away as Budapest! That’s dedication!

22.54

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Here’s a few more thoughts from the Twittersphere…

22.52

Lib Dem source tells us they think it’ll be close but they are within grasp of victory.

22.51

Samplers for @ZacGoldsmith have just arrived at the count.

22.50

22.48

A Lib Dem source has just told us that they think the rumour that Labour have lost their deposit is ‘probably true’. Labour activists don’t seem to be too happy in the room.

22.40

Keep sending in your tweets with #Richmond Park:

22.38

Rumours circulating that @richmondclp have lost their deposit… One Labour activist tells me that they feel they’ve had a ‘good response’

22.37

A Lib Dem councillor has told us that they couldn’t call it either way and they predict ‘no more than a few thousand’ votes in it.

22.36

Thimbles are in high demand tonight…

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22.30

Lots of busy counting staff now verifying votes as ballot boxes arrive thick and fast.

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22.30

More reports coming in from Lib Dem sources, some of whom are getting ever more confident of a victory tonight.

22.26

Keith Taylor MEP has spoken this evening about the Green’s role in the by-election…

22.25

The first ballot box has arrived in #RichmondPark for the count.

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22.24

We’re hearing rumours from Liberal Democrat sources who have told us they would be ‘amazed’ if turnout exceeded 50%.

22.14

We’re having reports in that turnout is less than 50% – far lower than previous elections in #RichmondPark…

22.13

One thing’s for sure, this race will be close.

22.13

Many tweeting away using #RichmondPark – do send in your views!

Kevin hopes that a third party may scrape through amidst infighting with Zac and Sarah:

Other voters are concerned about Brexit:

Others expecting a Zac victory and low turnout:

22.09

Who will it be tonight? Here are some election stats from 2015:
In 2015 Zac held on to his seat and became the MP with the biggest increased majority on 2010.

Zac had a 38.9% majority and in total there was a 76.5% turnout.

Liberal Democrats secured: 11,389 votes (19.3 per cent of the vote)
Conservatives (Zac) secured: 34,404 votes (58.2 per cent of the vote)
Labour secured: 7,296 votes (12.3 per cent of the vote)
Others secured: c.6,000 votes (10.2 per cent of the vote)

22.03

Can’t see any candidates at the count yet but lots of eager samplers and counting staff…

22.01

05.12

That’s all from Yvonne Tracey and I (James Giles) here at the King’s Centre. We hope you enjoyed tonight’s coverage. Now for some sleep!

05.11

05.11

BREAKING: KINGSTON VOTES TO REMAIN IN EUROPEAN UNION 61%-39%

05.10

There we are ladies and gents, #Kingstonvotes to REMAIN in the European Union.

Full breakdown:
REMAIN: 52,533
LEAVE: 32,737
REJECT: 60
TOTAL: 85330

04.38

We’re going to move over to that live-stream now for when the result goes live. Stay with us and when the result is announced the stream will give you the option to play. Sit tight – won’t be long now.

04.36

04.33

04.30

We’re still waiting on that result! Come on #KingstonVotes!

04.13

Hmm… That ‘4am declaration’ isn’t quite going to plan. Still, we’re looking forward to the result shortly. All we can do now is wait.

04.07

We’re still awaiting a result here at the King’s Centre – stacks are now being checked once more to ensure figures are correct.

03.59

We’ll be live-streaming the result as it is declared.

Follow the stream here (it will only activate when the result is declared):

03.56

We’re expecting a result in the next 15 minutes, so I’m reliably informed.

03.39

Meanwhile Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith has boasted about Richmond’s high turnout.

03.37

03.37

03.33

The votes here in Kingston are being checked and double checked before the result here will be announced. We’re expecting a result in half an hour.

03.19

Adjudication now well and truly underway…
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03.18

We’ve reached the adjudication stage. This is where both sides agree on votes that have been considered ‘doubtful’ as to their intention. #KingstonVotes

03.11

Just a reminder of the overall turnout in Kingston:

03.07

We’ve just spoken to a Labour analyst from the ‘In for Britain’ campaign, who has told us that form their sampling, they predict a 61%-39% win for Remain. Results are due in around 4am. Until then, the count continues.

03.06

And more fun from @RBKingston:

In, out, in, out Shake it all about You can do the hokey-cokie if EURef

02.51

02.46

Sorry for the lack of updates – not much has changed here in Kingston. The count is continuing and the counting staff have a fantastic power to stay awake and focus on getting the count right.

Soon we’re going to be speaking to Vic Bellamy, Chair of Kingston UKIP and we also hope to speak to a Labour ‘IN’ representative.

We’ll bring you all the latest as we have it.

02.26

Fun Fact from @RBKingston: The highest voting turnout since the war was 83.9% in 1950. The lowest was 59.4 per cent in 2001

02.24

02.24

The count seems to be running very smoothly here in Kingston – we’re told to expect a result around 4am.

02.22

As you can see from our earlier chat with Patrick Wylde, Vote Leave seems to have conceded defeat here in Kingston, but seem more confident about their chances nationally.

02.19

We’ve now just spoken to David Randall, who has been campaigning in Kingston to ‘remain’ in the EU. He told us: “For certain Kingston will be strongly remain. It’ll be somewhere between 58-65% remain.”

02.09

We’ve just spoken to Patrick Wylde, the local ‘Vote Leave’ organiser for Kingston upon Thames, who told us: “In Kingston I predict a 58%-42% win for remain. However nationally I’m far more optimistic and think we’ll win 54%-46% overall and will leave the European Union.”

02.03

We’ve just spoken to an ‘Remain’ analyst who tells us he predicts a 60-40 remain win here in #KingstonVotes.

01.58

In just a moment we’re going to be speaking with the local ‘Leave’ organiser. We’ll let you know his views on the #EURef.

01.57

01.56

Let the count begin!

01.56

01.55

JUST IN: FINAL Turnout: 78.38% – Postal Vote turnout was 88%.

01.54

Counting staff nearly all back now, they should start again ‘very briefly’. #KingstonVotes

01.53

This is the longest 15 minute break I’ve ever had! Count staff are now slowly making their way back in for the count to start.

01.20

It’s all become eerily quiet here while the counters are on break…

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01.17

Around the King’s Centre, boxes have been laid out on the tables for ballot papers – will Kingston vote to remain or leave?

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01.16

Verification is now complete. The turnout should be announced shortly.

Counters will now have a fifteen minute break before the counting commences… This is where the fun begins. #KingstonVotes

01.00

The counters here at the King’s Centre are doing a fantastic job – I think we’ve got two boxes left unverified now so we should (fingers crossed) be on to the count soon.

00.55

We’ve just spoken to a ‘remain’ analyst in Kingston, who predicts a result in the borough of roughly 60-40 to remain. #KingstonVotes

00.52

Nothing has changed here in the last fifteen minutes – votes are still being verified, and with a postal turnout at 88%, we’re expecting a very high turnout from today too, even despite the torrential weather conditions.

00.39

Tonight’s count in Kingston is split into ten counting sections. We’re getting reports now that some of these are nearing the end of verification. Soon we should be able to start the count. #KingstonVotes

00.34

Devon Way polling station earlier this morning:

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00.32

Nationally, #VoteLeave have now taken the lead courtesy of Sunderland with a strong result for Leave, in contrast to the first results showing a #Remain win in those areas. We’ll wait and see the result Kingston holds. What we do know is postal vote turnout is 88%.

00.25

It is most certainly worth noting that voters in Old Malden and Chessington this morning had difficulty in voting as the Shiraz Mirza Hall and Devon Way youth centres flooded in the overnight torrential weather.

READ: EU referendum voters wade through water as floods hit Kingston

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Above: Devon Way this morning

Alternate polling stations were set up, but it will be interesting to see the effect this could have in Kingston… #KingstonVotes

00.23

A fair few boxes still to be verified before the count can begin in #Kingston, but I’d say we’re roughly 2/3rds through verification.

00.19

Fun Fact 7: The 1975 EEC was the country’s first nationwide referendum

00.18

THIS JUST IN: Postal turnout in Kingston is 88%, normally mid to low 70s. #EUref #kingstonvotes

00.18

…the counters don’t have time for that! #KingstonVotes

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00.16

Some counting agents for the ‘remain’ and ‘leave’ camps are taking a break in the wonderful King’s Centre café…

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00.07

Theres a heck of a lot of ballot papers to be counted and verified tonight…

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00.07

00.06

We’ve been told the results won’t be available on a ward-by-ward breakdown basis when they are announced in Kingston. #KingstonVotes

00.05

Sorry for that downtime folks – fingers crossed we’re back online now.

Turnout is expected to be high in Kingston – I understand these are the boxes still left to be verified!

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23.47

There’s a real mix here tonight at the King’s Centre. Nobody knows from either camp which way the vote will go. It’s going to be close. #KingstonVotes

23.46

Apologies for the extended downtime. You haven’t missed much – all votes are still being verified and the count is yet to begin.

23.14

Fun fact 6: The average house price in Kingston as of March 2016 was £461,587. 12% of residents live in social accommodation. #KingstonVotes

23.04

Fun fact 5: The largest ethnic groups in Kingston are British (63%), Asian (16%) and other white (10%) with Korean, Indian and Tamil the main ethnicities making up the Asian group. #KingstonVotes

23.00

While the counters are busy at work verifying votes, we’ll provide key Kingston facts to this vote. — Yvonne

22.53

Count agents are now working in a process called ‘sampling’, where they will try and calculate how Kingston has voted.

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22.49

Fun fact 3: Kingston is the second least deprived borough in London #KingstonVotes

22.48

Fun fact 2: There are 87 polling stations across 53 venues in Kingston #KingstonVotes

22.47

Fun fact: There are around 109,000 people entitled to vote in the Kingston EU referendum #KingstonVotes

22.46

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Boxes are coming in thick and fast now and verification is underway.

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22.19

The counting team are busy at work…

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The first boxes of ballots from today are due in shortly, these being from Chessington.

22.17

More batches of postal votes are being handed in to the counting team – we predict a high turnout tonight if postal votes are anything to go by.

22.12

22.09

A YouGov poll prediction has just been released based on the national picture, suggesting a 52%-48% win for Remain.

22.09

Polls have closed and ballots will soon be arriving. Postal ballots are the first to be verified. Thimbles are in high demand tonight!

21.56

Polls remain open in Kingston for four more minutes, at which time polls will close.

Our live blog begins at 10:10pm.

21.21

#EDENWALK HAS BEEN PASSED.

21.21

The application was approved with all Conservatives and Malcolm Self voting for the application. All other Liberal Democrats voting against.

Thanks for following tonight.

21.19

Vote now.

21.19

21.19

Councillor Glasspool is minded to approve the application.

21.18

21.14

21.14

“I’ve actually been quite impressed by the scheme” says Councillor Glasspool

21.13

Councillor Glasspool is now speaking – I’d expect him to be in favour of this scheme.

21.12

Cllr Cheetham will be approving this application – no surprises there whatsoever.

21.11

Cllr Cheetham thinks this is a “great thing for Kingston” – no surprises there.

21.10

So far, unofficially it seems to be:

FOR: Cllr Malcolm Self ( he is ‘98% sure’ he will approve)

AGAINST: Cllrs Rebekah Moll, Lorraine Rolfe

STILL UNDECIDED: Cllr Patricia Bamford

21.07

Councillors are now making their closing remarks.

21.07

20.56

A 3 mile radius would take you as far north as Twickenham and as far south as Long Ditton – as far west as East Molesey and as far east as New Malden

20.50

Residents are now attempting to pick out discrepancies in officer report and what is now being said:


20.49

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“Eden Walk would generate a need for 27 secondary school places.” — Nicola Smith

20.46

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20.41

Members of the public are not happy with the presentation from Nicola Smith this evening.

20.40

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Leader of the Opposition, Liz Green, has tweeted over the development:

20.30

20.29

It is worth noting that the supermarket, J Sainsbury, have written in objecting to the redevelopment of Eden Walk

20.28

Planning officer Nicola Smith is now summing up before questions from councillors come to the officers.

20.27

20.24

20.24

Councillors Jon Tolley and Phil Doyle are coming forward to speak on behalf of their ward residents.

Phil Doyle: “THe aim of this development is to improve the retail offering in Kingston. I think we have actually heard this this evening. It is a site that is ready for development. It also offers almost 400 homes and more homes are needed in Kingston. This LA has a poor record of building new homes in the past 10 years. It will create new jobs both in the building of it and in the long term and will create income that will be spent by the council in other areas. These are the positives.

But i am asking you to refuse the application in its present form as it does not pass the Kingston test. I am suggesting that it can do better than this. I am suggesting that it has to be better than this to be good enough for Kingston. There have been some improvements but they do not go far enough. The heights and mass are such that it will certainly dominate the skyline. It will not so much dominate the town centre, but will become the town centre.

Historic England states it is not sustainable development and they do not support it. Many residents object to this development in its present form and this committee is the custodian of historic Kingston and its future is in your hands.”

Large applause from the gallery.

20.21

20.20

“There will be far more smaller shopfronts, and there will be far more shop frontage than there currently is. I think we end up with somewhere in the region of 100m more of shop frontage.” — Developer

20.20

Cllr Self next.
“There is reference in the report and the objectors have made reference to the change in retail floor space. Could you comment on this in relation to the change in retail frontage as opposed to just floorspace?”

20.18

20.18

View from the gallery:


20.18

20.17

Does Vice-Chair Roy Arora have a conflict of interest in sitting on Development Control Committee? coombemonthly.co.uk/edenwalk-confl…

20.17

Firstly Mike Head. “Access to the current development of Eden Walk is though M&S. Given we are attracting more shoppers, there is still only one entrance and in peak times we do face bottlenecks. How will this be tackled?”

“There’s a couple of things that we can demonstrate that mitigate that. Firstly, this is tight-knit into town centre. This is a very highly used pedestrian area and so the number of car trips we’re looking to generate are less than are there at the moment.” — Developer

20.15

No members of the committee have questions for the objectors, but a number for the applicants.

20.10

20.09

The applicants are now speaking.

20.09

“Due to the harm of the historic environment that we have identified in our letter, we do not consider the scheme represents sustainable development and therefore do not support it.” — This was a letter from Historic England sent on the 20th May clarifying their position.

George Rome-Innes, local resident, closes saying: You are not the experts, we are not the experts, they are the experts. Please, listen to the experts.

20.07

Anthony Evans speaking on behalf of the Kingston Society. “It will have a devastating impact on the impact of the town centre. Historic England uses the word harm on ten occasions in their letter objection.

They say “We believe that the current proposals cause harm to the historic environment that has not been adequately justified.”

The officers report does not fairly represent the views of Historic England.”

20.06

Objectors have given eleven valid grounds for refusal which would be valid in the case the proposal was refused. Keith Payne of KRA is currently speaking.

20.05

Objectors are speaking now.

20.01

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19.48

19.47

Nicola Smith is continuing to set out the plans, which can be viewed from our live stream above.

19.39

The officer is reading through the site as it stands – “a poor shopping arrangement with poor accessibility to parking and dated office space”. Officers are recommending this council approves the plans tonight.

19.38

Get in touch via Twitter!

19.37

View from the gallery:

19.36

The site is now being explained by the planning officer, Nicola Smith.

19.35

A letter of support has just been read out by the officer Nicola Smith – why hasn’t a late letter of objection also received today also been read out?

19.33

In the unlikely event that our site does go down, you can continue to watch the livestream at our backup link of https://livestream.com/accounts/12898419/events/5466005

19.32

The meeting has now begun and introductory remarks are being made.

19.25

Live blog begins here at 7:30pm.

22.33

Right – that’s all for tonight folks with the live blog.

Just for reference – the proposals passed 7 votes to 6. All Lib Dems and Labour voted against, all Conservatives for.

The amendment was also defeated.

We’re going to be piecing together the video which covers everything up to now and publishing it tomorrow. We apologise for the outage in service. It was sketchy. The feed should be more revealing when published.

Thanks for following.

21.46

Apologies – we’re out of battery! We’re still filming separately and will publish in due course.

21.37

Live stream briefly went down – now back up.

21.35

“If AfC can’t do it, it is this committee moving a recommendation that the council does it.” — Liz Green

21.33

“I’m not sure if officers actually have the power and authority to do what they are suggesting they do.” — Cllr Eric Humphrey

21.32

Cllr Liz Green: “What is being said is not that the AfC can not move towards the model they have described tonight, we’re not saying they can’t start to do that. We’re saying Searchlight needs to stay open and also that Barnfield and Devon Way should remain open until future provision is secured for the area.”

21.29

A fair bit of confusion now over this amendment. Cllr Humphrey, Chair, is concerned over how officers will interpret this amendment.

21.28

“Barnfield and Devon Way will remain open until future provision for the users is secured” is the final part of the amendment proposed by the Lib Dems. This will ensure the youth centres stay open until the newer service is finalised.

21.27

“The Searchlight youth centre will remain open until such time as the Cambridge Road Estate regeneration scheme is agreed and future provision for Barnfield and Devon Way users is secured.”

Liberal Democrats and Labour are supporting this.

21.26

Councillor Cottington is now proposing an amendment that would keep Searchlight open for an extended period of time and also future provision for the two other centres be secured. This will in effect cancel out the planned closure of youth centres.

 

21.19

“You must remember that authoritative figures, particularly in Norbiton, are not looked proudly upon.” — CRE Residents’ Assoc. Chair

21.18

The Chair of the Cambridge Road Estate Residents’ Association is speaking now.

“Back before AfC, Searchlight served the largest-density population, the most deprived estate in our borough. The hard to reach youth aren’t in school. How are you meant to reach hard-to-reach youth if they are not there?”

21.17

“You’re political pointscoring out of this. You had 15 years to stop Searchlight decaying. You’re jumping on the political anti-closure bandwagon.” — Cllr Chris Hayes

Cllr Liz Green: “15 years ago it was Conservative led Chris, we had 12 years. You say on one had it is not about the buildings, but on the other hand you said . If you feel we didn’t invest enough in Searchlight, change that. You can invest in Searchlight. Then absolutely blame us for not investing in it if we didn’t. But don’t say that we didn’t invest in it and then your administration votes to close it. It’s the wrong way around.”

21.14

“We’re not closing all the youth centres. We’re effectively looking at three – in each case we’re looking at alternate arrangements. This is about increasing the amount of targeted work with young people.

There are four key challenges:

  • There is a clear message about the value that young people have in regards to universal and open access centres for youth centres to do that initial work.
  • 62% of young people access non-AfC services. Young people are out there using so many services that aren’t council run, and we need to make sure we have a robust approach to ensure this voluntary sector work goes alongside council services
  • If we do make decisions around youth services, young people should help shape the future provision in their area
  • There is not a massive evidence base out there about what really works – we need to have a really clear review service to ensure what we are doing is actually working and improving the life chances of young people.”

21.10

Cllr Hayes is speaking now. “I’ll be brief. Thank you for bringing the paper to committee (to AfC). These aren’t easy decisions that we have to make, but it is important to flag up why we’re doing this. This isn’t about the finances – there’s little to gain financially by doing this. This is all about doing what works, and increasing the face-to-face time that workers have with young people.”

21.03

“How long has the administration known that there would not be £95,000 saving wouldn’t come this year? This paper must have been produced more than two weeks ago at Budget Council.” — Cllr Liz Green

“I am not the person who delivers the budget, so i will say all will be very apparent. All the decision here are expected to make a contribution to make a future contribution to the future of RBK. If the decision goes as recommended, the savings would be achieved.” — Cllr Eric Humphrey

“You’ve missed the point. You approved a paper that clearly states there will not be a saving within 16/17 yet you did not feel the need at Budget council or when your treasury portfolio holder spoke that the saving would not be made this year, when the young people came to speak about it? I found that appalling.” — Cllr Liz Green

21.00

“The proposals state “The proposed reduction in youth centre-based provision will not achieve any immediate financial savings for the council. There will be a cost associated with closing/maintaining the buildings until such time as an alternate use is found. What happened to the £95,000 saving?” – Cllr Liz Green

“In relation to the medium term financial plan, you’re right. There is a saving against the modernisation of the youth centres – this isn’t directly related to not using the youth centres, therefore the efficiency won’t be achieved this finance year but will be as a part of the longer term financial planning. Through the redesign of youth provision and resourcing will come the financial saving.” — Elizabeth B., AfC

20.57

“If we wanted other young people who weren’t using the youth centres to respond to the consultation, we could have reached out to parents of pupils at schools to get a wider selection of young people.” — Cllr Liz Green

20.54

Ivana Price from AfC responding. “A significant proportion of young people state they value the youth centres. A lot of the young people that engage in the survey are existing users, hence the preferences. We haven’t captured an equal proportion of young people who say don’t reach out to the youth centres. I would suggest exercising caution when looking at the responses given the cohort of people.”

20.52

Cllr Liz Green now. She is not happy to decide the ‘permanent future’ of service for these young people without knowing first whether the buildings will be available for use by other groups after AfC leave. Cllr Green suggests this to be deferred to Growth Committee to decide on this first.

20.48

Ivana Price from AfC: “AfC is not in the right place to respond – it’s the council. In terms of the consultation. We’ve consulted with the age group of the young people that we work with. We’re not proposing to change the play facilities. We have gone through a significant exercise with the officers, elected members and young people to test out the consultation design to make it as user friendly as we can. I appreciate it doesn’t work for all but it isn’t something we have taken lightly. We have also offered a lot of support, so apart from consultation published on the website, we’ve actually taken the consultation to schools and youth centres.”

20.46

“40-80 young carers per week use Barnfield – that is not mentioned in some ways cynically. Barnfield is a great place, full of young people. Where will we deliver these services when Barnfield goes? We still need settings.” — Cllr Diane White

20.45

“You’re asking us to agree and telling us that change is going to happen – you’re not giving much detail on what these changes are. I have an issue with that.” — Cllr White

20.44

“The consultation doesn’t seem to feed in much to the report.” — Cllr Diane White

20.43

Cllr Cottington wants to raise an amendment to the proposals, but will do so after questioning from councillors.

20.43

“Note that there is one non-councillor on this committee who wants to speak. Cllr Linsey Cottington first.”

20.42

“Secondly, I take your point about targeted youth work – many young people have said that young people are not out on the streets. I’m concerned that successful youth work will be out on the streets – you are right. Young people need somewhere to go to feel safe and secure. It is not a one-size-fits-all policy. Some want a building, some don’t. We also need to remember that those kinds of provision that are very specific for different groups of young people (e.g. SEN) are kept open for them.” — Cllr Margaret Thompson

20.40

“Can we have assurance that the rates will not be raised above the ability for other community groups at the centres being able to pay?” — Cllr Margaret Thompson

20.40

Questions from councillors now.

20.39

“Is there any suggestion you could make to making the future provision safe?” — AfC

“Perhaps keep Searchlight open?” — Molly, young Searchlight user

Large applause from the gallery

20.37

We’ve had 60 people following along so far tonight – greetings to you all.

20.37

“In the Winter, yes, it will mean you may have to walk through in the dark, but we will work with parents to ensure this is safe.” — AfC

20.36

Molly Barrell is speaking now. “I attend Searchlight – you’re saying about the distance between Searchlight and Dickerage. I understand you want us to perhaps go on to Dickerage… It’s quite close, but you have to go through an alley. I don’t like alleyways, especially in the wintertime. You’re suggesting I then have to walk the other way, which in turn adds the miles up.”

Ivana is speaking now. “I appreciate that will be a different experience for users of Searchlight who will come to Dickerage in terms of the way they walk and who they walk with. In terms of making it safe, we will work with local PCSOs and our volunteers to make sure we can improve on safety and if it is a matter of timing of provision, we can look at that too.”

20.33

Nicola: “Have you actually been to Dickerage in the last two years? I attend Dickerage with the smaller children, and in the last two years Dickerage has deteriorated. I don’t see how you can run youth services for 8-11 year olds at Dickerage. I attend in the summertime with younger children whilst others are at Searchlight. Those with SEN would require gates to be closed, at detriment to those wanted to play in the playground.”

Ivana: “There has always been an offer of youth provision at Dickerage. In terms of the decline, do you mean in numbers or quality? The numbers have been steady at Dickerage – we’re not proposing to relocate SEN provision to Dickerage and are very mindful to ensure the venue is suitable and ensure they don’t infringe on other users of the provision.”

20.31

Nicola coming up next. “You have asked past young offenders their opinions, and you say they would rather have had 1-2-1 work rather than youth centres. For one, my children will not go out and meet your workers on the street. I like to know where my children are. They like their centres. If these children here are put out on the streets, like the previous criminals you have already asked, that were out on the streets when they caused these crimes. They will have no safe environment to go to. Kingston Police are always saying they try to remove children from the streets, but what you’re saying is you want them on the streets to do youth work with them.”

Ivana from AfC: “Perhaps we didn’t convey our message clearly in our outline. We’re looking to take provision to schools, and are proposing to use local community venues where we don’t access currently. We also have a mobile youth provision, so we are not proposing that we will throw young people on the streets. We’re recognising there are a large number of youths on the street that choose to be outside and we are proposing we reach out to those young people as well as to the rest of the youth population.”

Nicola “So what about these children that go to youth centres that won’t be able to be out on the street?”

Ivana: “We feel a lot of the provision can be relocated to Dickerage, providing a safe place for them to go to. It’s a change, and we will want to work with those young people – we want to ensure this is done safely.”

20.26

“We are very keen to work with you in shaping the future of youth provision. This is not the end of the road, but rather the start.” — Elizabeth B., AfC

20.24

“This is the start of the journey deciding how outreach works in your community. It is not the end of the journey in any way, shape or form.” — Elizabeth B., AfC

20.20

“The youth service in Kingston and Richmond is the best in London.” — Ivana Price, AfC

20.19

“Has the council given any thought to what they will do one they hand the building back?” — Director of Oxygen

“No, there is no immediate thought, and it wouldn’t necessarily be a matter decided by this particular committee. We’re also on about only removing AfC prison from these youth centres.” — Cllr Eric Humphrey

20.18

Director of Oxygen is speaking next. “There is some research out which raises a question about universal work. It’s been conducted by a youth offender worker in Surrey. It suggests that a universal provision often works better than a targeted provision and doesn’t institutionalise them at a very young age.”

20.11

Before that, Cllr Mary Clark is coming back on points raised by AfC.

20.09

I’m going to talk next. Follow the live stream for that.

20.08

“It would be up to AfC…” — Cllr Eric Humphrey

“We are confident we will not see a reduction in youth provision.” — Ivana Price, AfC

20.08

Cllr Mary Clark is speaking now.

“On the impact assessment – you say that you will monitor the changes to youth provision after 6 months and again after 12 months.

If after this, you find a significant decline in membership, do you have a Plan B to rectify this situation? If so, what?”

20.06

20.03

Susan Chandler is now speaking. “We currently have two buses worth going in to Hampton Youth from here (Kingston) on a Sunday night. This is because the services match the ages of the children. Searchlight users go there as opposed to Dickerage because of the age ranges.”

Ivana Price from AfC: “We’re not suggesting moving the youth services to move out of the borough…”

20.00

Cllr Pickering is now asking Marcus a question. “I listened to what you’ve actually said – thank you for all you’ve done. I understand what the AfC officer has said too. I’m listening to the evidence, but also the petition. There’s a lot of signatures on the petition, but this doesn’t link in to the consultation. Obviously the numbers are greater than the users. Why isn’t this translated in the consultation?”

19.59

We’ve had a few tech issues here. Live blogging will now resume.

19.53

Marcus, a local young resident, is speaking now. “We are here tonight to discuss the future of the youth services. I’d like to support with Searchlight’s most attended group – the junior group. Apart from Kingsnypton, we are the only youth centre to provide support for children this age.

The number of attendees with SEN as their primary need is higher than national figures. Over 50% of respondents to our survey would rather have youth centre activity than ‘days out’.

Because of their needs, they want more centre-based activities. AfC want to get rid of half of their youth services, but Searchlight is so important in Norbiton that they have gone and started a petition gathering many signatures, and the AfC internet survey was filled out by 80 out of the 84 registered members of searchlight.

If you would like to get rid of the building, give it to groups such as Kingston Mencap, or give it as a community building and we could get it up to scratch to provide youth services.”

19.50

“Through these proposals I suggest these proposals create a better youth service in terms of reach, relevance and range. We would welcome any questions.” — AfC

19.49

Here are the proposals for the youth service in Kingston:

  • Halve the number of youth centres in Kingston from eight to four
  • ‘Refocus’ youth provision to increase the range of vulnerable young people accessing local youth services
  • Recommission some youth provision to local voluntary groups
  • Increase access to a ‘broader range of high quality youth activities’ for young people

“Most of the feedback before the general public support the proposals this evening.” says an Achieving for Children spokesperson.

19.45

Live stream should now be back up.

19.42

We’re now moving on to the ‘modernisation of youth facilities’.

19.38

Cllr Sushilla Abraham isn’t here tonight. Cllr Liz Green is substitute for Cllr Abraham.

Cllr David Fraser will be late tonight.

19.35

Pleased that everyone in the gallery is happy to be filmed this evening for our live stream. We’ll begin here shortly – opening proceedings currently going on.

19.32

Tonight’s meeting will be live blogged from here shortly.

21.06

That’s all folks!

21.05

That’s all for questioning of officers. That’s the end of the meeting for tonight. Join us again on 23rd March for the decision DCC at Guildhall, as usual at 7:30pm.

166 have been following tonight.

21.04

Some residents calling for Viv Evans, Head of Planning, with the impression that Nicola Smith isn’t answering as thoroughly as Viv.

21.03

21.02

21.02

Nicola Smith: ‘Yes, this is one thing that our urban designers look at.’

21.01

Rebekah Moll on the ‘new central space’… ‘The space between the seats and glass atrium, when looking at the photographs, I’m concerned that if you were sitting with a buggy and someone else walking with a buggy, would there be room?’

20.59

You can of course catch the latest in questioning of officers above in the live stream.

20.57

20.56

157 people have been following tonight, based on statistics so far.

20.56

20.54

“I live and work in Eden Street – where I eat my dinner is closer to this development than my own back yard. There is a need to give life to that area, and a need to make it a bit more like what we should be having in 2016. Public consultations have been good. But, there are genuine concerns, which include density and scale, impact on heritage, infrastructure support, the impact on the homeless in Kingston and the height of the buildings.

Whilst the number of objections is quite high, I do think it would be higher if it weren’t for ‘development fatigue’ – it is becoming hard to see one development from another.

One of my main criticisms is the lack of affordable housing – continually the response is ‘it is not viable – the figures don’t work’. But, in this case, there has been full transparency on viability assessments – we should welcome this, and it’d be great if we could have a public commitment from developers tonight on transparency of assessments. We need to try and encourage this with other developers. This is a good point. I welcome transparency.” — Cllr Jon Tolley

20.51

Jon Tolley is going to be speaking on behalf of Grove Residents tonight.

20.48

Councillors are now questioning officers.

20.47

“We have these pre-decision meetings – this is a massive application and we are limited to a time for questions that is not adequate for a development of this size.” — Cllr Self

“That’s the system we have at the moment, anyway, questions for officers now” — Cllr Hudson

20.47

20.46

Cllr Tricia Bamford now – “On playspace – I’m particularly interested in this, given the madness of free schools in office buildings. Where is the playspace for children living in these developments?”

“The way in which we develop each buildings – they each have their own private inner courtyard, with their own playspace. This is in accordance with the London Plan.” — British Land/USS

20.45

“Zip Car (Car Club) have said they would only want one space in our car park” — British Land/USS

20.41

20.40

“The 171 spaces in the basement will not end up being sold with the flats – they will likely be available for rent, be it an annual or monthly basis. There is provision for disabled parking in that car park.” — British Land/USS

20.39

(from Cllr Self)

20.39

“On disabled parking – one of the hypothetical new residents’ aunts of poor mobility, although not a blue badge holder, comes to visit. Where does she park to visit her family?”

20.38

“There will be a resident concierge with a manned reception for delivery space. Residents will use this as delivery space and get their deliveries later.”

20.37

Councillor Malcolm Self first.

“On parking – the report makes clear what parking for residents is. Firstly, a resident in one of the new flats, not withstanding the fact it is a town centre location, I’d say a good proportion will order online goods and food shopping online – when they go online, what instructions would they leave to delivery companies as to how to get their goods delivered?”

20.36

Councillors are now questioning applicants.

20.35

20.33

View from residents…

20.33

Having a few technical difficulties with Council Wifi tonight – live stream now back up. Questions now from councillors to objectors.

20.31

“Historic England says ‘that protection should be through sensitive control of height and massing through any new development’. I think we must have been reading a different report to that which developers were reading. ‘We believe that the current proposals cause harm to the historic environment, which has not been justified. We cannot support them.’ says Historic England. The developers have shown a lack of any respect for the fabric of our town – this is simply unacceptable.” — Kingston Society

20.28

“This development is even taller than the monstrous Premier Inn and Travelodge opposite the library. Buildings are far taller than the development brief – this is in direct contravention to the council’s own adopted policy.

The applicant states ‘The assessment concludes that there is a minor neutral impact on Grade II listed United Reformed Church'”. This is a ludicrous claim given the development which will dwarf this listed building.

Heritage England says ‘busy facades would over-run these historic buildings’.” — George, Kingston Society

20.27

“We wonder if flats are fit for purpose – the GLA has raised concerns with accessibly deep flats, with only 9% three bedroom or more. This Eden Walk scheme would be the largest in the borough for decades, but at what cost for its history and heritage? In five years, will we simply get a new mecca for shoppers, with less community feel? We urge you, the Council, to reject this proposal and come back with a better and improved scheme.” — Tony Lancaster, Riverside Residents Assoc.

20.25

“1364 sq.m office space, 30% less than current will be lost in the new development.”

20.24

“Like the bookend building in the Old Post Office, the end building has been submitted at 12 storeys, yet the brief states it should be 6-8 storeys. It’s bulk and height compromises the shopping area, blocking its view from Station Quarter.” — Tony Lancaster

20.23

Tony Lancaster speaking next, on behalf of Riverside Residents Assoc. “We now look at the street level view. The tall buildings create an unduly imposing wall onto Eden Street.”

20.19

“We have to consider the cumulative effect, if you include the Old Post Office. These developments provide 723 extra units – a lot of people to fit in to overcrowded trains, buses, roads, schools, doctors, dentists that Kingston already has.” — Andree Frieze

20.18

Andree Frieze, Green Party GLA candidate and local resident speaking now.

20.18


20.17

“Another major issue is the complete absence of affordable housing on site – starter homes are not affordable housing. Neither do we know if there will be any contribution to infrastructure, housing, education etc.” — Keith Payne of Fairfield West

20.16

“This proposal will cast a long shadow over Kingston – dwarfing the Old Post Office and All Saints Church – assets we are supposed to be cherishing.

The height guidance in this area is 1-5 and 6-8 storeys, with one landmark building. This development exceeds all height guides from the Eden Quarter Development Brief.”

20.14

“When this committee has refused applications in the past, they have come back better later on. this application should be refused – applicants should come back with something more appropriate. Starting with the consultation process: the applicants skilfully managed this. The proposals were shown to the public, with the images showing convincing artists impressions. The focus again was the inner courtyard, while tall buildings disappeared out of frame. The images shown at the consultations were partial – a true consultation must involve a clear and open understanding. As a result, many thought it was quite pleasing, and many dropped out of the process.

Then they submitted the application on Guy Fawkes Night, the same night as TOPO decision. Had TOPO not taken centre stage, this application would be even more shocking.” — KRA

Weight of opposition:

  • 160 letters of objection
  • Riverside Residents Assoc
  • CPRE
  • Friends of Bushy and Home Parks
  • Kingston Upon Thames Society
  • Kingston Residents’ Alliance
  • Kingston town Conservatory Advisory Commtitee
  • Historic England
  • Housing Services
  • Greater London Authortiy
  • CABE Design Panel

20.10

“There is a lot more to this development than the flattering inner courtyard visuals. We have now seen the eye levels from streets, local parks and bridges. We see flats rising far above Kingston. The developer team are very pleasant, but this does not make their development right. Does the development earn the right to be the tallest in town, even taller than the riverside development? And is it right to breach the Eden Quarter Development Brief by over 50%?

Can we accept so little coming back in regards to affordable housing, infrastructure and contribution to schools from this £400m scheme?

In reality, this is a massive overdevelopment of the site, with far too little give-back. We agree with Historic England, who cannot support this. They can’t support it, neither can we.?” — Kingston Residents Alliance

20.08

The objectors are now voicing their opinion on the Eden Walk Development.

20.08

20.07

Here’s a few more points from the developer’s presentation.

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 20.07.03

A few video clips have been shown this evening, which can be found on our live stream.

20.06

“We agree that it is vitally important that as decision makers, you are in possession of the full facts in respect of this scheme’s viability. That is why we were pleased to share the numbers that make up the viability assessment with members. Many shy away from disclosing such information, but right form the outset, we have been open and honest about what this scheme has the financial ability to offer.” — British Land/USS

20.01

“Some viewpoints may be challenging to some – we understand that and would like to explain how we have thought about, and evolved, the design to give what we think is an adequate response. Yes there is an increase in height and density, mass and volume. Eden Street becomes vibrant; there are shop fronts, a space for community use, a strong street edge – providing real benefits for the residents of Kingston.” — British Land / USS

 

19.57

“Our strategy has been very different to other developers”, British Land/USS claim. “When we have consulted, we have listened and responded. We are here for the long term and want to be the best neighbours we can be.” — British Land/USS (Applicants)

19.55

“Our development will generate hundreds of new jobs for Kingston.” — Developer

Eden Walk’s sky restaurant would be the highest public point in Kingston.

19.54

Matthew Secker from British Land and USS is speaking first.

“This long awaited regeneration scheme is an extremely important opportunity for the future of Kingston and the economy. Kingston town centre is a ‘retail powerhouse’ for its catchment. However, the future of the town centre is not guaranteed. It faces real challenges from competing centres and online shopping. Working together, we can address those changes.

“This strategically important, transformational, mixed use scheme, would be one of the largest investments ever made in Kingston and will be the catalyst for regeneration of Eden Quarter.”

19.50

19.49

Live stream back up!

19.44

“Our final consultation received nearly 80% support.”

19.39

“As this is a very complex scheme, we have produced an updated version of our fly view, available now on our livestream.”

19.39

The top of the development will be the “Highest view point in Kingston, and provide spectacular bushy views across to Bushy Park.”

19.38

“Our development will create hundreds of new jobs for Kingston and will also create 380 homes in the heart of the Eden Quarter, playing an important role in providing Kingston’s needs. These will range from studios to three bed units. Residential accommodation has an essential role to play in the viability of the scheme. Without it, the development will be unviable.” — Developer

19.35

Developers are presenting first.

19.34

Views on Eden Walk coming in on Social Media…

19.33

Paul Bedworth has declared an interest in this application, working for John Lewis.

19.32

We’re off with the opening proceedings.

19.30

Councillors are taking their seats for tonight’s DCC meeting.

19.16

Good evening! James Giles here bringing you all the latest from #EdenWalk DCC. Catch the latest tonight from 7:30pm.

21.15

Application refused! Thank you for following tonight. The meeting is hereby closed.

21.14

Councillor Richard Hudson pledges to continue work against the development, saying…

21.12

21.12

194 people have been following #TobyJug tonight @CoombeMonthly

21.11

21.11

Not one councillor was for the plans tonight. Reasons for refusal now been put together.

FOR: None

AGAINST: Councillors Andy Johnson Creek, Mike Head, Bill Brisbane, Lorraine Rolfe, Rebekah Moll and Malcolm Self

ABSTENTION: Councillor Hugh Scantlebury

21.10

REFUSED! 7 against, one abstention…

AGAINST:

21.07

I’m going to be taking our live stream camera closer to the front for the vote. Watch above ^^^
|||

21.06

Residents seem optimistic that this will be refused…

21.05

21.05

Cllr Malcolm Self will be voting to refuse this application.

21.04

Councillor Andy Johnson-Creek again making reference to Councillor Chris Hayes’ ‘passionate’ speech.

21.04

Cllr Andy Johnson-Creek next. “There is a housing shortage – supply in the market is a massive issue. This is definitely not it. There is too much mass and density here. 705 homes is grossly inappropriate.”

21.02

Cllr Rolfe up next: “As we’ve said, Tolworth roundabout is at at least 98% capacity, and with this, we will be far over capacity. Tolworth will be at a standstill. Residents have no desire however for a CPZ to be enforced upon them. Parking is the main thing for me – Hook Rise South and surrounding areas will become a standstill.”

21.00

Cllr Mike Head firstly. “I do support the Tolworth Tower site, believing it doesn’t make a huge difference to the skyline and appearance for Tolworth. I can’t say the same for this. I do have an issue with 2000 people being moved on to this site. We’re going from no housing on this site, no people, to 2000 people. I can see that at all times of the day, this will have significant impact on the roundabout, which is already at capacity.

We haven’t really spoken about visitors to this site. With 2000 people, we’re going to have lots of people coming and going. I’m not anti-development, I’ve lived around here for many years, and this site is screaming out for development, but we need more consideration for the local area.”

20.57

20.55

Cllr Brisbane: “We have to be considering a fair amount of family housing. The density of this development is 172 dwellings per hectare, which is marginally above the top of the range of the London Plan. We have to take account of the characteristics – this is a suburban area with open metropolitan land nearby.”

20.52

145 people are following tonight’s meeting from @CoombeMonthly’s #DemocracyLive feeds.

20.50

Cllr Rolfe’s points have been noted. Comments now.

20.49

Cllr Rolfe coming back to visuals, which “aren’t correct, creating a slant on this. They’ve obviously used a filter or something. They’re definitely not the correct size. Who took the photographs?”

Nicola Smith: “They were taken by a company on behalf of the applicants. The preciseness of the photographs can be verified for ‘precise-ness'”

20.47

20.46

20.46

Some residents are claiming to have been blocked by members of the DCC, and are unhappy about this…

20.45

c.13% affordable housing planned for #TobyJug

20.43

20.42

Cllr Scantlebury: “Is Tolworth roundabout at capacity already?”

Ian Price: “It depends on what time of day. In the evening, I would suggest Tolworth roundabout is at near or full capacity.”

20.41

There will only be one car club space in the Toby Jug plans!?

20.41

Let’s play catch up…

 

20.35

I’ll be back in a few moments.

20.35

20.34

“What are we committing to?” asks Cllr Cheetham

“Is it the height, or just whether or not there should be 700 units? To decide whether 700 homes could be placed on this site, given how close it is to the A3, I can’t believe we haven’t done more investigation into the traffic.”

20.32

Assuming this is Cllrs Austin and Wallooppillai, being the two Northern ward councillors absent.

20.31

Cllr Rolfe is concerned about the vision model – this shows how the planning application would look at various views in the local area. “I don’t know about you, but I don’t think Tolworth Tower has ever been that small!” she says.

20.29

One member of the public has stormed out, claiming the meeting is a ‘fix’. “It’s already gone through” he shouts to committee members.

20.28

20.27

“Bar the eighteen storey building, I believe this application does fit in with the townscape” — Nicola Smith

20.26

20.23

Not all local residents have trust in planning officer, Nicola Smith, with one tweeting in…

20.22

20.22

Petition WAS handed in this time…

Credit Cllr Cheetham

Credit Cllr Cheetham

20.20

The doctors surgery which would be part of the plans “could cater for more than 2,300 patients” — Nicola Smith

20.18

20.18

20.17

He refers to Cllr Hayes

20.17

20.15

70 people are following our live blog and stream this evening. #LiveDemocracy

20.14

Leader of Liberal Democrat group Liz Green poses an interesting question…

20.13

Councillors are now questioning council officers.

20.13

Not all residents are against this development…

20.12

Cllr Hayes “The people of Tolworth will be heard tonight. We’re saying no to overdevelopment, no to high rises, no to high-density tower blocks. No, no, no! It isn’t what people want, it isn’t inevitable, it isn’t what has to be. I will not have Tolworth treated as a second class dumping ground for developments. I am proud to serve Tolworth, a great town with a soul. With the right regeneration it can be great. Stand up and fight for the residents for a better Tolworth and for a great Tolworth.”

Cllr Hayes receives a round of applause from the gallery.

20.09

Cllr Thayalan: “The same concerns have been raised about the Tolworth Tower site, however it was approved despite concerns from councillors and residents. It cannot be used as a precedent for this application.

If all of these developments are potentially approved and built, it will bring over 1000 cars, 3000 people and a vast increase in air pollution. Any further development in this area will add massively to the traffic and poor air quality. Tolworth deserves better.”

20.07

In addition, Cllrs Yoganathan, Ayles, Gander and Hudson are in the gallery.

“I urge you to reject the application, and would happily work to bring something together that is a bit more reasonable.” — Cllr George

20.05

A large number of ward councillors in attendance tonight. Cllr Tom Davies, Thay Thayalan, Ian Hayes and Ian George are speaking.

20.04

Cllr Head asks his question next. “Did it ever occur to you to look at the bowling alley and car park to look at the site as one complete site than a partial site?”

Response: “We can only deal with the land that is in our ownership. Yes, there are other pieces of land that could fit in with our site, but we can only deal with the land we have.”

Applicants say the bowling alley was not approached.

Cllr Head: “What is the expected population of occupancy for 705 homes? What are the demographics?”

Response: “A little over 2000 is the expected population. I don’t have detail on demographics on me.”

20.02

“There are a number of issues here around policy. This is a location which can accommodate high-density accommodation, and we believe this development can make a significant contribution to the housing requirements of this area.” — Applicant spokesperson

19.59

There are a number of questions for the applicant. Cllr Moll first.

“Could you clarify that when you say there are only 30% family units, that these are three-bedroom or more?”

Response: “They are in line with policy.”

Cllr Moll: “Are these 30% that have three-plus bedrooms?”

Response: “Correct.”

19.58

19.57

“A total of 356 onsite parking spaces will be provided, equating to just over 0.5 spaces per dwelling.” — Traffic consultant for applicant

19.57

“We have undertaken an extensive traffic modelling strategy. During morning and evening peak hours, there would only be a 2-3% increase in traffic.” — Traffic Consultant for applicant

19.56

“This contribution also includes community infrastructure. The total investment on community infrastructure is £5mn.”

19.55

“On density, the GLA considers this site to be urban. We are in the upper end of the London Plan for density, not over it… Going over it is not appropriate here.” — Spokespeople for Meyer Bergman

19.53

To clarify, we did seek prior permission to film tonight, contrary to what Cllr Scantlebury mentioned.

19.53

“A vote for this development is showing you hold up the values of companies such as Meyer Bergman. Voting for this development shows that you’re willing to sell out the residents of this borough for short term political gain.” — Objectors

19.50

“The 50% ratio of parking is ridiculous for residents. There will be an overspill into surrounding streets and estates. The artists impressions show a large number of double yellow lines. Any overspill will again go into surrounding roads and estates.” — Local resident speaking tonight

19.48

“There are at least nine policies that this application contravenes. If you go along with officer recommendation and approve this application, frankly you might just as well tear up your core strategy or use it as a doorstop, because that is the only use it will have.” — Vicki Harris

19.47

Vicki Harris, Honorary Alderman and resident in Hook Rise South up first. Ms Harris is pointing out a number of policies that this application contravenes.

19.46

Three members of the public are speaking tonight, including honorary alderman, Vicki Harris.

19.45

19.45

“Officers recommend to permit this application, subject to signing of a Section 106 agreement and to the GLA” — Nicola Smith

19.44

19.43

19.40

“A tall building is more obtrusive in short and long range views, but could be considered a local landmark building.” — Nicola Smith

19.39

“Heights range from 2-3 storeys at the far end (towards Hook) to 4-11 storeys around the railway station, with the possibility of a building up to 18 storeys.” – it is important to note this scheme is an outline.

19.38

We’ve got only eight members on committee tonight… 4 LD and 4 Con – a sign of things to come?

19.37

Tonight, we’re told that members are deciding an ‘outline application’. Nicola Smith said: “This evening, members are required to make a decision on whether 705 units can, in principle, be accommodated in the application size. Scale, height etc. are all reserved for future meetings.”

19.36

“This application would provide 705 homes, with retail stores, a cafe, GP surgery, day nursery and office space, along with car parking and a bus interchange.” Nicola Smith is presenting.

19.35

Apologies: Cllrs Hudson, Austin, Bedforth AND Walloopillai.

Cllr Johnson-Creek is substitute.

19.34

Nicola Smith siche planning officer for this case, who will be presenting the application shortly.

19.32

We’re set to begin. Hugh Scantlebury is chairing tonight, as Cllr Richard Hudson has declared in interest on this application as a result of his ‘Tolworth Deserves Better’ campaign.

19.29

Catch all the latest here from 7:30pm, where we will be following the Development Control Committee, deciding the fate of the Toby Jug site in Tolworth.

22.49

That’s all for tonight! Thanks for following. I can confirm we had 201 followers tonight online.

22.48

The council meeting continues with its final few points.

22.41

Vote on the budget, at long last!

FOR: ALL Conservatives – 26

AGAINST: ALL Liberal Democrats and Mary Clark – 19

ABSTAIN – Labour Councillors – 2

The motion is carried. Kingston’s budget is passed.

22.40

“This is a difficult budget in challenging times” says Cllr Glasspool. “This budget lays the groundwork for the future of the borough while minimising financial burdens on Kingston residents.”

22.38

Cllr Abraham – “Are you minded to ask residents to cut the grass verges and look after them? We are looking at grass verges, not the grass in my back garden.”

22.38

“I can’t resist the temptation to point out one more thing to you. The borough is a green space. It would take us 21 years to replace the trees Liberal Democrats cut down. Yet again, another crazy thing that went on, and you said that you were the Green Party – you really weren’t. It’s a disgrace. I urge you to vote blue and go green.” — Kevin Davis

22.36

“We’re now in real budget as opposed to planet nonsense which appeared to exist over [at the Lib Dem tables]” — Cllr Davis

22.34

Apologies for the scarcity of the blog over the last quarter of an hour, we’re all getting tired and ever more warm – councillors, gallery, press… debate continues on the Conservative budget plan.

22.25

We’re now on to the (hopefully) short debate on the actual budget, proposed by the Conservative administration.

22.24

Second amendment coming to a vote,

Same breakdown as before

19 For – All LDs and Mary Clark

27 Against – All Conservatives and Linsey Cottington

1 Abstain – Shiela Griffin

22.16

Lib Dems have now raised a second amendment, focussed on ‘community engagement at neighbourhood level’.

22.12

I think there was an abstention somewhere in that mix. Regardless, the motion is not carried.

22.11

Voting now on the amendment.

For: All Lib Dems (18), 1 Independent. 19 in total.

Against: All Conservatives (26), All Labour (2)

Interesting to note Labour vote against the amendments.

22.09

“Wake up and so some work! Don’t be so damn lazy!” says Kevin Davis in response to Cllr Green.

He says that Councillor Green’s Lib Dem councillors are paid an allowance to scrutinise with officers, and they should do so and not waste tax payers money.

22.08

“Do you know what? What I want to ask are a few things:

  • How long are you going to keep going back to our administration? You’ve had 18 months – start taking responsibility for your decisions! If you think we got something wrong, via Cocks Crescent, etc. – then do it better! You are not doing it any better! You’re cutting Searchlight, that’s the same thing. You’ve done no consultation whatsoever in regards to the home care charges. The other thing is, I genuinely thought you’d listen to some of it. I knew you wouldn’t vote for the amendment, that’s not the way it works.
  • Do you really think the IT budget should be £2.65mn? Do you really think we shouldn’t take £60,000 so Dysart children can attend their school?
  • You said Councillor Cunningham we haven’t been specific on Kingston Futures. It’s because we only got the information very late in the day from the wonderful finance officer over there – he’s been very helpful to us. We want to scrutinise the Kingston Futures budget, proper scrutiny, the kind we used to allow you to do when we were in the administration, you were the opposition. We would like to do that, and I ask Councillor Davis now, will you give a one off scrutiny meeting on Kingston Futures, looking at the budget and all the areas, and what the advantages of the areas are. If you have nothing to hide, you’d allow us to do that.
  • I’ll leave you with that thought. You won’t vote for the amendment. We will, because it surely makes sense.”

22.03

“I will not be supporting this amendment, as it is a pathetic amendment.” — Cllr Cunningham

22.01

“It is your policy, that was weak – your administration allowed offices to produce bland documents. That is why I am passionate about having a local plan that speaks for the whole of Kingston, so the people of Kingston have a say.” — Cllr Cunningham

22.00

“This amendment is a pathetic amendment. It is desperate, just to connect with the press just so they will pick up a few items.” — Cllr David Cunningham

21.58

Councillor Ken Smith: “Those of you who know me, know I don’t get up very often. Tonight is an exception. If only I could believe some of the comments made by the opposition tonight. Did not the last administration cut street cleaning from once a week to once every three weeks. Did [they] not let Cocks Crescent and the Causeway run into such disrepair that they had to be pulled down. The people of New Malden now have to travel miles to get those services. It isn’t a wonder that you lost every seat in Malden and Coombe. It is the way you behave. Look at the High Street and the mess you left behind.”

21.55

Cllr Gander – “Bio-bags. Changes were made last month to the borough’s waste collection, as you know. Residents are telling us fortnightly collections will result in green boxes overflowing, an the oversized blue bin for paper and card meanwhile won’t be filled for several weeks. Now we have the line in the budget that the green bio-bags that people have got used to won’t be supplied free by the council. I’m sure there is a lecture coming back here somewhere from the opposite benches, the ‘people in power’, that tough decisions have to be made. How much would bio-bags cost the taxpayer? We reckon 26p for a months worth for one household, and what this does is make food waste recycling more pleasant for everyone.

“We don’t believe your changes will lead to an increased rate in recycling. It will have a detrimental affect on recycling rates. Once we get people not doing food waste recycling properly, landfill costs (£80 per ton) go up. Food is heavy, you do the sums.”

21.52

Cllr Terry Paton speaking. “The word hypocrisy comes to mind. Where’s the humanity in the utter destruction of our services in New Malden. Closing resource centres, arthritis clubs… We talk about green bio-bags – I have faith in our residents to continue to recycle and actually increase our recycling rates. The lack of investment from 12 years of Liberal administration… £1mn already spent on our roads under this administration… extra. Preventative maintenance is better…”

21.49

Cllr Thompson speaking now. “The closure of the helpdesk at Hook Library will add to the perception that the South of the Borough is the forgotten part of the borough.”

21.48

Some residents are ‘too fed up’ to attend any more Council meetings. Can understand why.

21.46

“As my colleague, the leader of the council has already said, it is quite unsurprising the Liberal Democrats bring forward this proposal about biobags. It’s something I’ve found they’re excellent at – gesture politics. I want to make two points about them.

Cllr Green said these proposals will have the effect of residents paying twice. That’s the opposite of the truth. The truth is that they are paying twice currently, as there is one size of bio-bag, but not one size of waste bin.

Other boroughs such as Bromley have never given out bio-bags.” — Cllr Doyle

21.44

“I think it is shameful that you speak of putting the humanity back into this council but don’t actually do it.” — Cllr Bamford, much calmer than the end to Kevin Davis’ speech.

21.42

Cllr Patricia Bamford – “I’ll start from a quote from Kevin Davis if I may – “The Council and the way we work must become more human.”

Where’s the humanity in closing youth centres? Where’s the humanity in increasing numbers of people in temporary accommodation farmed out across West London, struggling to get their children to school every day?”

21.41

“We get the best value for the pound, we don’t waste every pound.” — Cllr Davis

21.39

Cllr Davis speaking now. “I’ve never seen such piffle from the opposition. Where’s your suggestions for £12mn of cuts? And Kingston Futures – let’s get this out of the way…”

Cllr Davis really attacking the Liberal Democrats, calling Cllr Green a ‘disgrace’ for allowing ‘developers to run roughshod over this borough.’…

It’s going too fast for me to keep up!

21.36

“I can’t see the point of a Tolworth Area Plan when applications have already been approved!” — Cllr John Ayles

21.32

21.31

View from the public:

21.30

View from Cllr Tolley:

21.29

View from the public:

21.29

“Disabled adults deserve to keep their dignity. The appearance of grass verges is important to many residents. Road maintenance, as you have now recognised, is one of the most important tasks a council can make. We propose to remove the £400,000 cut going forward, not just for one year. Dysart desperately need to be able to transport their students safely to the new post-16 building.

The total cost of all proposals is £1.638mn, which will be met by… (see below)” — Cllr Liz Green

21.27

“Food waste recycling is important for both the environment and to keep landfill tax costs down. So we propose to keep the free provision of bio-bags for food waste containers to all residents to ensure maximum uptake of recycling. We don’t believe residents should have to pay for bags on top of Council Tax.

Road maintenance is recognised as one of the most important tasks a Council undertake, so we propose to remove the proposed 20% cut to this budget, so we can repair as many roads and footpaths as possible.

Youth centres help vulnerable and at risk children make the right life choices. They also provide a base for disabled and young carers groups. We propose not to close 4 youth centres in Kingston and instead to work on how the buildings can be properly utilised. Searchlight, Barnfield Doris Venner and Devon Way are all set to close.

Local charities and volunteer groups need small local grants and each Neighbourhood should have access to funding to undertake small local projects. We propose to keep very localised budgets and personnel to make this happen.

Disabled adults deserve to keep their dignity, so we propose to scrap the plan to take 100% of income into account in relation to Homecare charging policies.

Small businesses are vital employers, so we propose to keep the ring-fenced annual contribution to the Kingston Chamber of Commerce so small local businesses can get the help they need to continue to flourish.

The appearance of our suburban areas with grass verges is important. We propose to remove the saving that would see our verges only cut once every 3 weeks in the summer.

Dysart special school needs a vehicular access to safely deliver their disabled and vulnerable young people to its new 6th form building, so we propose adding this into the capital budget.

Kingston Conservatives want to sell off an ex care home that could be converted to temporary accommodation for homeless families. We propose to convert this building, helping local families and saving on the B&B budget. The total cost of these proposals is £1.638m

We must produce a balanced budget, so in order to pay for these we plan to remove from the proposed budget:

• Remove the money put aside as contingency against the planned delivery of savings in 2016/17. This does not affect the reserves that are for potential overspends in some council areas.

• Kingston Futures, the council’s planning policy and development section which promotes Kingston to developers, has a budget in 2016/17 of £4m. We propose to cut this budget by £600k.

• The Council’s ICT department has a budget of £2.65m for replacing end user devices and technology investment fund. We propose cutting this budget by £450k.

• The planned flood maintenance strategy is paid for from the moving traffic contraventions account (yellow box junction fines) rather than general council tax.”

21.26

“During our administration, we worked with Croydon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Sutton. Thank goodness we didn’t put all of our eggs in one basket. I’m pleased to see this budget will enable us to work more closely with Liberal Democrat Sutton. I’m pleased to see you continue our good work. It was the LD administration that established Achieving for Children. In conclusion, before I officially move our amendment, some of the things we’re asking for are relatively small amounts, although the total is quite large.

Despite the fact the council could find £250,000 in the wink of an eye to remove their Chief Executive…

That aside. We propose the following…” — Cllr Green

21.23

“It is hard to see how services will not be further scaled back for some of society’s most vulnerable. In this budget, Conservatives propose to tell residents to pay more for their home care. Last year, we saw cuts without consultation, residents thought it was a done deal – several botched consultations later, the idea was dropped. Here it is again, still no consultation.

This budget also carries huge risks. With the reduction of £1mn AfC budget, rising to £4mn over the next four years. Services supporting elderly and disabled are at breaking point right now.

It is clear, in the name of austerity measures, that the policy of the new Conservative Gvt is to starve councils of funding. Will this mean the introduction of another Osbourne tax? Surely the time has come for cuts to come from elsewhere.” — Cllr Green

21.19

“Onto this year’s settlement. The politics of it are quite clever, calling it a ‘Social Care Precept’ – it should be called an Osbourne Tax. Unlike the NHS, the Conservatives has not protected social care funding, and we all know the precept is no more than a sticking plaster. The truth is that residents are being asked to pay more council tax to offset the amount the council spends on social care. This is something that should be funded by central government.” — Cllr Green

21.18

“Your manifesto did not make reference to your growth agenda. Now, thanks to one vague question in the all-in-one survey, you now claim to have a mandate for your growth agenda. Residents are fighting back. Whilst growth was not mentioned, this budget breaks at least three promises that did make it to print.

Not only are you cutting youth centres, £1.5mn being taken out of adult social care.

What is so bitterly disappointing, and utterly predictable, is we heard from those young users tonight – there is clearly no plan to deliver those services which young people quite rightly told us they wanted. There isn’t consultation – you’re closing the funds before the proposal comes to committee.

There are other promises broken…

You’re cutting road maintenance by £1.2mn over three years – what was the point of putting a million in? Actually, you’re still, overall, going to be reducing the budget.

  • You’re forcing redisents to buy biobags, where they already pay enough Council Tax.
  • Removing neighbourhood grants
  • Cutting grass verge services

It’s now clear where your priorities lie – setting £4mn aside for Kingston Futures, for developers looking for Kingston as a place to develop.

Not to mention Cannes – yes, residents have noticed.

Tonight we will see Kingston Conservatives show their true colours. By the end of tonight, this administration hopes to vote for a 2% council tax rise. Now your Government has let you down with a settlement ‘worse than you could have expected’, they have left their colleagues forced to put council tax up. It is the truth. We mustn’t forget, until a few weeks ago, they wanted to increase it by a further 1.99%, intending to raise Council Tax by 4%.

Please listen to residents – they don’t want overdevelopment just to save you from the wrath of your Tory Government.

There is an uncertainty in Chancellor Osbourne’s four year statement – we’ve been told to expect additional responsibilities too, which we don’t know what they will be.

Back in 2010, this LD administration put forward a proposal to allow local authorities to retain part of its local business rates. Under Danny Alexander, this was taken up by the coalition government in the finance bill. Just before the 2015 GE, it was Danny Alexander who launched the widest review of business rates in a generation. It was set to report back to the budget in 2016 – it is good to see the Conservatives have not dropped that LD policy.”

21.09

“This budget shows why you can’t trust the Tories. This is the fifth successive year of cuts for Kingston. What this budget is actually doing is indiscriminately cutting services and selling off the family silver. Kingston does not have strong reserves, and families are seeing their services under threat.

Of your eight outcomes, do you know which is the only one to have a greater budget in 16/17 than 15/16? It is outcome six – “A borough of choice and opportunity – breaking the mould to increase the availability of housing and jobs” – I think that says a lot.” — Cllr Liz Green

21.07

Key points so far:

Cllr Glasspool has outlined his budget proposals, some of which can be found in a press release from Kingston Council here: http://www.coombemonthly.co.uk/kingston-council-budget-becoming-a-more-human-council/

Cllr Liz Green is tabling an amendment to the budget, which can be found here: http://www.coombemonthly.co.uk/lib-dems-present-alternative-plans-for-kingstons-finances-ahead-of-budget-meeting-tonight/

21.06

The view from the public:

21.05

Cllr Liz Green is now speaking.

21.03

Rather than ‘salami slicing’ the budget, Kingston Council has adopted a new way of deciding the budget, which they describe as ‘outcome-based budgeting’.

The eight outcomes for Kingston in this budget are:

  1. People achieve wellbeing – independence and live healthy lives
  2. A place where people prosper – reaching their full potential with high quality education, skills and employment
  3. A safe and resilient community – everyone is welcome and supports the most vulnerable
  4. A network fo engaged communities – where everyone has a voice
  5. A borough that embraces growth – attracting investment for a stronger, more diverse economy
  6. A borough of choice and opportunity – breaking the mould to increase the availability of housing and jobs
  7. A sustainable borough – a diverse transport network and quality environment for all to enjoy
  8. A borough with an identity – rich in history, heritage, culture and creativity

21.00

View from the public:

20.59

“We will continue to lobby Government to get a better deal for Kingston.” — Cllr David Glasspool

20.58

“We have received transitional funding for the next two years, meaning we have been able to reduce our increase to 1.99% for the new adult social care precept.”

20.57

According to the administration, “Kingston is an innovative Council and is widely recognised as having led the way in many successful changes to Government policy. The savings that have been made have been done through the ground-breaking Outcome Based Budgeting approach. Rather than salami slicing services we have taken each service and matched it against the needs of the residents before deciding whether we should continue with it or close it down completely.”

20.57

Cllr David Glasspool:

“During the first two years since the local elections of 2014 Council Tax has remained frozen. Given the scale of the problem before us we have decided that it is best to let the main burden of the £14.8m savings fall on services and balance this with the minimum increase in Council Tax possible under the Government’s settlement.

“This increase will see a Band D taxpayer pay an extra £36 per annum and ensure that the most vulnerable in our community receive the care they need and expect.

“We will now be sharing our budget plans with the community at our forthcoming budget conversations, scheduled to take pace over the next few weeks. These conversations will help shape not just this budget but inform the outcomes against which we judge future budget proposals.”

20.55

“We are investing to shape the growth of the borough for the good of the residents.” — Cllr Glasspool

20.53

20.52

20.52

Sorry for the delay – we’ve had internet issues. Back online now.

20.44

We move on now to the budget proposals for the year ahead.

20.43

Cllr Davis finally. “Fundamentally, we’re talking about an improvement to the youth services. The service is not good enough. The building is not good enough. This is what was left to us by the last administration. It is crazy what was left to us. Now we’re doing something about it. That is what will happen. The budget has to come down, as does all of our budget. £12.5mn of our budget is coming down, and almost all of our budget will come down. That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be provision for Cambridge Road, there should be. We are having very productive discussions on this, and we hope to bring this up on 16th March. This petition is deferred until 16th March at Adults and Childrens Committee.”

Sixteen young people are in attendance tonight, many more than the usual one at council meetings.

20.39

Cllr Fraser now. “Firstly, it is very good we have this discussion today about this pending youth club closure. I’m very pleased about this discussion tonight.”

20.37

“You have told us this centre matters to you. We have to take that on board and into account.” — Cllr Scantlebury.

20.36

Cllr Scantlebury now. “Thank you again for coming out tonight. Thank you too for everyone who sat on Cllr Hitchcock’s wall making your point before the meeting – you made your points very clear. I would commend you all to try and come along on the 16th March, in terms of how we will shape things going forward in the future.”

20.35

Cllr Liz Green now. “Thank you for coming, not going to repeat all of that, you’ve heard it before. Let’s cut to the chase. On our budget is the removal of £95,000 which closes four youth centres, one of which is Searchlight. You say this will be decided on 16th March… You can’t take the budget away without discussing how you’re going to spend it. Let’s get this the right way around. I think Cllr Craig misheard what Cllr Tolley said. We don’t get this many young people in the gallery ever. Linsey said come and see democracy in action. Let’s see it now. Thank you for coming – it’s in our amendment to keep the budget for Searchlight. Closing the centre is not the same as looking at the building state.”

20.31

“We are committed to better youth provision as an administration. We deserve better, and you deserve better. As Chris Hayes said, we’re really happy to work with you to make sure what you get is better than what you have now. Thank you.” — Cllr Craig

20.30

“If provision isn’t great, why don’t we make them better? If attendance is down, why don’t we promote ways to improve it? That’s my initial reaction. I’d like to echo everyone has already said about the importance of protecting youth services this evening.” — Cllr Jon Tolley

20.29

This petition has gathered 1700 signatures, “many more than usual”, says Cllr Chris Hayes.

“As we move to a more community based model of work, it is critical we don’t lose universal, open access, provision. I do believe there are other ways on doing this than dated community centres. I will be honest when I say that I don’t think it is viable for AfC to continue to run services, but I invite young people to join myself, Cllr Humphrey, Cllr Craig and AfC as equal partners to shape the future provision for your area.”

20.27

“I urge AfC to defer the decision to close Searchlight until future provision has been decided for this area.” — Cllr Brisbane

20.25

Cllr Linsey Cottington is up now.

“I’d like to join Cllr Humphrey in saying thank you to the young people who have shown up to show their support for Searchlight this evening. While I support this petition, I will save the majority of my comments for the Adults and Childrens Committee later this month.

However, this centre has served generations of our community for over 30 years. Norbiton contains deep pockets of deprivation, and Searchlight provides a place for young people to go to help in this.

This proposed closure lacks foresight. There is an overriding need for facilities such as this on our council estates around Norbiton.

Young people are calling on elected councillors to support them this evening. I hope they will join us later this month where they can see democracy in action where this will be debated on.”

Cllr Bill Brisbane echoes the words of Cllr Linsey Cottington.

20.22

Cllr Eric Humphrey first. “AfC is the body which delivers youth services in Kingston, and their intention is very much to modernise the way in which the youth service is delivered. On the 16th of this month, there is an Adults and Childrens comm. raising the youth centre provision in this borough. I strongly invite them to join us and contribute to that meeting. This issue needs to be looked at in its totality.”

20.21

The final petition is on the potential closure of Searchlight Youth Club, being presented by Ella and Marcus, users of the Searchlight centre.

“Searchlight has been running for over 30 years and is very successful. Some of the reasons for closing Searchlight is that the club is underused and does not have as many facilities as other clubs.

“Recent statistics have shown attendance at Searchlight is 23, while Dickerage is 60. I’ve been to Dickerage and the statistics are nowhere near 60. I think that 23 is a good number, with a personal feel.

“AfC are categorising young people into groups of vulnerable and non-vulnerable. Youth centres are here to prevent young people becoming vulnerable. Closing Searchlight would leave many young people with nowhere to go.

“I’d also like to make a political point. In 1998, Searchlight was closed down under Conservative administration in Kingston. Between 2002 and 2014, Liberal Democrats were in control and maintained Searchlight. Now, in 2016, under Conservative rule again, Searchlight is once more under threat.”

20.17

Cllr Kevin Davis has grown a ‘Lent beard’…

Cllr_Davis__Leader_of_Kingston_Council__speaking_at_the_Kingston_Futures_Business_Breakfast_1920

Back to the petition:

“I’m determined to right this wrong…

“There is no way I can see at the moment the Council can pay for its own swimming pool with current resources.We will need to do it in partnership with someone. One way it could be delivered is in partnership with Kingston University, but there are other opportunities as well. We have a number of opportunities in Chessington that are appearing. There is also the development brief coming up in Cocks Crescent, New Malden…

“As a council leader, I feel it is wrong to build on our greenbelt, and should not be done.

“The summary is thank you very much. It will be referred to the Growth Committee for consideration.”

20.12

Cllr Tom Davies: “I’m pretty shocked hearing how low we are in the rankings for provision on this – it’s shocking and something that does need to be addressed. I’m very happy to hear lots of the things that you’ve said here, it’s great. I hope to work with you with this. I hope we can right this wrong and help with this.”

20.11

Cllr Andrea Craig: “This petition is an important one and I welcome it. When I first met Julian, I suggested this would be a good thing to debate, just to make sure we’re all on the same page. Whilst other neighbouring boroughs put their hands in their pockets to provide better facilities, Kingston has become run down. We are going to right this wrong. I want us to aim high – some may say an Olympic pool may not be achievable, I say let’s go for it. This administration is committed to building a new swimming pool, and are currently assessing what provision is needed and where. Kingston Sport and Leisure works closely with Kingston Royals, and we also commissioned them to manage Kingston swimming teams at the London Youth Games which we are very grateful for. With the help of Kingston Royals, we’ve also been able to enter water polo for the first time. They are a great asset to this borough, they are brilliant. So thank you for the work you do. We would really like to create community sports hubs across the borough. We very much hope to be able to achieve this in the future.”

20.07

“I’m very much behind the petition for a new swimming pool in Kingston.” — Cllr Self.

Cllr Mary Clark now.

20.05

“Our current pools are not really fit for purpose, even for training. I totally agree that the borough needs a competitive swimming pool.” — Cllr Malcolm Self

20.04

“I hope that we can see this will be rectified at some point in the future.” – Cllr Bass feels that it is unacceptable students are having to travel to Streatham, Guildford and beyond for competitive swimming competitions.

Cllr Self echoes these words.

20.01

Views already coming in on the looming budget:

20.01

Next up is a petition from Julian Oldfield, Vice Chair of Kingston Royals Swimming Club, calling for a new competitive swimming pool in the borough. Here’s his speech:

“Kingston Royals is the largest sports Club in the borough with nearly 600 members. As a club the existence of a third swimming pool, of a standard competitive size, would of course provide us with a facility to improve ourselves as a club. But it is not for this that I and we as a club have become so heavily invested in this cause. Currently we have over 30 primary schools in the borough. As with all schools across the country, they are encouraged to meet the government set target of getting every child swimming 25m by the time they leave primary school at the end of Key stage 2.

The provision of a third pool, could, as I have outlined in the attached document which I will hand in, provide for the Borough to become the national leader in the provision of swimming for all primary aged children. Swimming is a life skill – but is a relatively expensive activity to pursue, at learn to swim level, never mind at a competitive level. Without blanket provision within the school curriculum a large proportion of our society will never correctly learn to swim as well as they could. Our current facilities – particularly the Kingfisher Leisure Centre – are past their ‘use by date’. This is suppressing the needs of member of the public, the requirements of our schools and development of our clubs, impacting on the skills that they teach and reducing the health benefits that they can create for the wider community.

Despite this, as a Club Kingston Royals, along with the management companies of both centres and many other aquatic clubs in the borough, have successfully managed to provide aquatic activities for all for many years. Indeed, we as a club – the borough’s very own club of the year for 2015 – are one of the few clubs in London and Surrey that is not exclusive to elite high end competitive swimming. Having been on a major restructure over the past two years, our Cadet squad teaches and keeps active hundreds of children a year. We pride ourselves on the standards we keep in our governance, the standards we impose on ourselves as coaches and teachers to on correctly developing our children in swimming, and our provision within the club for all levels of children and adults who wish to pursue swimming as an activity. But the Club is full so we have to turn away hundreds of children a year wanting to join. With a third swimming facility we can do better. Currently in London the average number of 25m lanes available for public/club use per borough is approximately 27. In Kingston it is 12. Only 1 borough is worse than this – City of London, while Brent shamefully shares our spot at the bottom of the pool table. According to the 2011 census 24% of our current population in the borough, is aged 0-19. This puts us ahead of almost a third of all London boroughs for this demographic, and is a 6% increase since 2001, yet we seem to be lagging behind in our provision for this group from an aquatics and recreational perspective.

Currently we have to go out of borough twice per year to host competitive competitions. These galas provide for hundreds of children across south London and Surrey, the opportunity to compete. We also must regularly go outside the borough to access training time for our members owing to the current lack of available pool time within the borough.

The issue is obvious. The borough has just 2 pools. These pools need replacing and more sports facilities need building to meet the needs of a rising population. Within Kingston we have a synchro club that must conduct the majority of their training out of borough due to a lack of available pool time. They are one of only 6 synchronised swimming clubs in London.

As a large Club, Kingston Royals are willing to put the time, effort, expertise and passionate drive that we have into helping the borough design and implement an Aquatics Development Plan that provides for and supports all areas of our community. We have drafted a great business case already – that meets all needs – the public, schools and the Clubs. But to do this, and to do this correctly, will require the provision of improved and increased facility access. By following examples of other boroughs such as Barnet, Lewisham, Haringey & Hackney we can not only provide increased and improved water time for all our clubs, but also for the general public as well.

This is a petition for additional sporting facilities – not a replacement. The Council has a lot of important decisions to make in the next period and I implore you to consider our petition prioritise the great need to raise Kingston out of the ‘bottom 3’ so that we can urgently provide for all current and future generations.”

19.56

Cllr Hilary Gander spoke about limiting HGVs on the roads around the junction.

The resolution is that the petition has been noted and will be brought to Malden and Coombe Neighbourhood Committee next month.

19.55

Cllr Julie Pickering is now speaking on the petition. She thinks that the appropriate action is for the Council to implement the findings of Sir Ian Price’s report at the next Maldens and Coombe Committee. She thanks Jennie Stewart for bringing the petition to the council.

19.53

“This petition was launched at the beginning of December, and was active for that calendar month. We gathered 648 signatures. In December and January, meetings were held discussing our concerns. Officer Sir Ian Price is currently compiling a report…” on safety review of the junction, with traffic management options.

This will be brought to the next Maldens and Coombe Neighbourhood Committee, which Coombe Monthly will be live blogging.

#LiveDemocracy

19.50

This petition calls “on Kingston Council to undertake an urgent review of the safety of the junction of Coombe Road with Cambridge Avenue and Lime Grove and the nearby Zebra crossing.”

It gathered 648 signatures.

Jenny Stuart is presenting the petition.

19.49

There are three petitions tonight.

The first is in relation to traffic safety at the Coombe Road/Lime Grove junction, following the death of Coombe Girls’ pupil, Lavna, last year.

19.48

Following the resignation of Cllr Mary Clark as Deputy Mayor, Cllr Geoff Austin is the Deputy Mayor for the remainder of the municipal year.

19.45

Following the resignation of Cllr Mary Clark as Deputy Mayor, Cllr Geoff Austin is the Deputy Mayor for the remainder of the municipal year.

19.41

“I would just like to say thank you for bestowing this honour upon me.” — Don Jordan, now honourary alderman of Kingston.

19.38

**Correction: Don Jordan served until 2010**

Cllr Liz Green is now speaking.

“As Kevin has said, Donald was elected in 1998, and served for 12 years for Beverley Ward. As a councillor, he was the first chair for the Health Overview Panel, and by chairing that committee from the start, set up how we scrutinise, as a borough, the health services in our area.

I think all the mayors would say they have something special about the year they served as mayor. Few would have as special a year as Don.”

Don was drawn with his wife, Anne, and the Queen in Market Square on her Golden Jubilee year.

“Thank you for your service Don of 12 years on the council, and for his year as Mayor. Thank you.”

19.34

Firstly, former Councillor Don Jordan, Liberal Democrat for Beverley Ward until 2006, is being made an alderman tonight. Kevin Davis is speaking.

“Many of you will know the passion that I share with many of you in this room for Kingston, our home. A wonderful place to live, and a wonderful place to serve as councillor. It is an enormous privilege to become an alderman of this borough. Thank you Don for your service to this borough. We hope you enjoy your time as an alderman.”

19.31

The meeting has now begun. Follow the latest live here at www.coombemonthly.co.uk.

19.30

Children from the Searchlight youth centre are here tonight, earlier protesting outside the Guildhall with the chant ‘Save our Searchlight, Save your youth clubs!’

IMG_2495

18.53

Catch the latest from #BudgetCouncil @RBKingston live tonight from 7:30pm.

20.49

#TOPO application is passed 6 votes to 5.

20.49

Voting time. Cllr Hudson inclined to agree.

20.48

“I’m very mindful that the planning inspectorate is less likely to agree with our views on exemplar design. In terms of the likely outcomes, if we were to turn it down, as well as having our own views on what does and doesn’t work. After enormous amounts of dialogue and conversation, which has happened genuinely happened. We have to make a decision on this development, whether we do want to hear, or don’t want to hear.” says Cllr Scantlebury.

20.46

Cllr Scantlebury is the final speaker before this is to be wrapped up. “I like the fact that there is significant improvement on the bookend building. It is a waste of a site at the moment. The Post Office itself, bringing that back into mixed use for the community, will be welcome. Anything we can do to maintain that space for people to use for good works at a relatively low cost is to be welcomed. I also like the detailing on the Brook Street side, in terms of the linear lines and red brick. Then we have the tower…”

20.44

20.44

Viv Evans says that the 16-storey building is “in line with the council’s development brief on the site”.

He is not popular tonight on social media, with one resident tweeting:

20.42

20.42

So far 5 out of 11 @RBKingston Councillors have come out against. Final vote could go either way. #TOPO

20.41

20.41

Cllr Malcolm Self again. “I just wanted to make the point that there are quite a few things about this scheme I did like. I welcome that the site does need developing, and also welcome bringing the telephone exchange and post office back into use. I can understand why community groups may want to agree with that bit of it. What we can’t do tonight is approve this bit here, but not that bit there. So all I can do is go with my conscience, saying I can’t approve it. I will vote against it for the reasons I said.”

“Good for you!” a gallery member shouts.

20.38

Clarification from planning officers: The very highest point on the 16-storey building is 2 metres over the height of Kingston College.

20.38

“The corner building is a gimmicky building – the structure has not changed from last time, and setting aside the height, it is the design that is unacceptable. It is not restrained, it is just shouting at us and it is not appropriate for Kingston.” — Cllr Brisbane

20.36

Cllr Thayalan speaking now. “The issue is mainly the height, which we refused last time. It hasn’t change. I don’t think the design itself is exemplar. Parts have improved, but we still need more improvement.”

Bill Brisbane again. “I agree with all the comments about the bookend building being a large improvement on last time. On three bedroom units, I’ve always thought that in Kingston Town Centre it hasn’t been appropriate to seek 30% three bedroom accommodation – I was about to accept the reason that three bedroom properties don’t sell so fast. After hearing from James (Purvis) about the three bedroom accommodation, I don’t think the percentage we have now is acceptable.”

20.34

View from residents…

20.32

“On the 16-storey tower. When it first came up it was 21-storey, and I was against this. I’m okay with 16-storeys at that level. It is an area in Kingston where height buildings are more appropriate. Looking at the design aspect, I was satisfied with the design last time – whether it is exemplar or not, I don’t know. I’m not particularly enthused by the design, but not so concerned by it either.” — Cllr Glasspool.

20.30

Cllr Glasspool speaking now. “I think that in different locations there can be very different demand for three bedroom accommodation, and in a town centre I can imagine there is greater demand for one or two bedroom accommodation.”

20.29

Cllr Lorraine Rolfe is happy with the scaling down of the bookend building, but “doesn’t find the design [of the 16 storey building] exemplar” with “no change in my feeling at all. Just because the buildings around it are that height doesn’t mean we have to build up to it.

Also, on three bedroom units, they may sell more slowly, but they still sell.”

20.27

Bill Brisbane now, with a question for a planning officer. “The view from applicants is that three bedroom apartments sell more slowly than two and one beds. We haven’t had any evidence that they don’t sell, and have no evidence that Charter Quay didn’t sell well. For every five percent, do you have any idea what the cost would be?”

James Purvis: “There was no affect in the cashflow costs in terms of three bedroom units.”

20.26

Cllr Rowena Bass up next. “Beyond doubt, this area does need developing, even objectors couldn’t disagree with that. The question tonight is, is it good enough, and less bad? We’ll have to decide. Certainly the view from Wheatfield has improved significantly. Still, I do agree with Cllr Self, that my least favourite part of the scheme was the corner house, at 16 storeys. It has been decreased from the original, but it not an exceptional design. It is not exemplar.”

20.24

20.23

“Cllr Cathy Roberts said this week, and I quote “We have unprecedented demand for three bedroom properties”… There seems to be some discrepancy here – perhaps the cabinet member needs to have a word with the planning officers.” — Cllr Self

20.21

20.20

Councillors questioning officers now.
Cllr Self says: “The sixteen storey element was refused last time. Other changing the fact there’s red brick on one face and new brick on another. Bar that, the character has not been changed from the last proposal. There would be no logic tonight saying we should approve the scheme, as the tower building has not changed and is still not acceptable. If you’re going to have a tall building (although I’m not convinced of any need for one there), it has to be of exemplar design.”
Applause in the gallery.

20.14

View from the gallery:

20.14

Cllr Cheetham not proving popular tonight from the gallery:

20.14

Cllr Hudson takes offence at Jon Tolley’s comments, saying

“Your comments are a very serious allegation I’ll have you know that I am a fiercely independent person when it comes to this committee. If I were being whipped, I would resign from this committee and make the reasoning for it clear.”

Cllr Tolley responds, saying:

“I’ve never thought anything otherwise of your chairmanship, but it is important everyone here understands that councillors should vote as they should.  It is for the perception of everyone else to know you are doing the right thing.”

20.13

Cllr Moll is questioned by Cllr Jack Cheetham, asking why she dislikes the design, admitting “I quite like this design.”.

“I don’t like the height of the design, mainly. The view from the paper aeroplanes roundabout doesn’t have anything that draws on what we see in Kingston. I think it looks like scaffolding and I can give many further reasons why I dislike this design.”

 

20.10

View from the residents…

20.09

20.09

View from the councillor:

20.09

Cllr Doyle speaking now. “The reason we are elected as councillors is to reperesent the interests of our residents. This application was rejected on the last occasion because, among other things, the committee thought it could be better. In particular, height and mass were not sympathetic to a market town such as Kingston. Improvements have been made, but the issue of height of the corner building was and remains the most controversial part of the development. It remains far too high and out of character with the area. The height also appears to be contrary to the council’s own policy, and for that reason I ask committee to refuse the application.”

20.07

“The lack of affordable housing is one of the biggest issues in these plans. Not being able to see the viability assessments is a real problem for us, so I back Cllr Scantlebury’s campaign to be able to see these. However, this application was not refused on affordable housing. Cllr Moll has stated the reasoning very well. You have to do what is right, and not what you might have been told to do from elsewhere.

“I take exception to that Jon, as none of us have been told what to do” says Cllr Hudson.

20.05

“Once this is built, there is no hiding away from it. I agree with St George that this application is a gateway, but a gateway to what? Not our ancient Royal Borough. For that reason, I ask you to reject this application.”

Cllr Jon Tolley next.

20.04

“Cllr Roberts this week stated we have an unprecedented amount of three bedroom accommodation in this borough.” she adds that “the second reason for objection (three bedroom accommodation) has not been addressed.”

“The height of the tower objection has not been addressed either,” saying the design “papers over the cracks of its design.”

20.02

Three ward councillors are speaking tonight. Rebekah Moll (Grove Ward) first. She thinks that the application is a “great improvement”, however “does our town deserve less bad, or much better?”

20.02

Questioning of applicants is up, despite there being further questions from members of the committee. The five minutes is up, says Cllr Hudson. “What?!”, the gallery responds.

20.01

In addition to this, there is a live stream of tonight’s meeting here: https://livestream.com/accounts/12898419/events/4875383

19.59

“I think the objections of last time have been addressed” says Cllr Mike Head.

19.57

There are no questions for the objectors, but quite a number for applicants. The first is on the variety of brickwork.

“It is a realistic composition, and the building becomes richer for it – we’re bringing the two materials together.”

19.56

View from the residents…

19.54

“We’ve made a dramatic change to improve the setting of the telephone exchange” — St George, applicants

19.53

Applicants up now. The managing director of St George is up with two others from the company.

“It is important to acknowledge the corner building has two roles. Firstly, it allows a gateway to Kingston…” – the gallery boo and make noise, causing Cllr Hudson to ask them to ‘let applicants speak.

“It also allows a transition from Brook Street to Wheatfield Way.” says the applicants.

19.51

Keith Payne speaking first. “The original application attracted 201 letters of objection. This application has received over 230 letters, an increase.”

Our next speaker says “The first reason for refusal was in regard to the impact on the listed buildings. These important Grade II buildings are still overshadowed by the new buildings. Such a scheme as this should not be allowed if it will damage important heritage buildings, such as this.”

Gallery cheers and a loud applause followed.

Rory McMorrow next. “Refusal number two. This development does not provide 30% or more 3 bedroom units, as required by policy. The addition of 4 more three bedroom flats is well short of requirement. The developer has failed to provide adequate reasoning for this. They say they are having difficulty with adequate balcony space for three bedroom flats, showing the density of this development is not fit for purpose. The second reason has not been resolved.”

Applause from the gallery.

Next up a speaker from Riverside RA. “We are disappointed the developer failed to engage with the local community, as required in the planning framework. The third reason for refusal is not resolved.”

Next speaker, George, from Kingston Society. “The will of the people can only be exercised if they are fully informed. To do this, they must have full consultation. There has been no full consultation. This is not local democracy in action. You can not allow this development to go ahead.

As our elected councillors it is your duty and responsibility to represent our views to prevent this application. It is up to you to resolve this on behalf of local residents. We place our trust in you as our elected representatives to stop this.”

Cheers and the loudest applause yet for George.

19.43

Objectors speaking first.

19.43

“The height of the building has not been reduced, but it is comparable to other buildings this size in Kingston Town Centre. The change in materials are considered to better reflect the landscape of Kingston.”

“By who!?” a member in the gallery shouts.

Planning officers recommend the committee permits this development tonight.

19.38

Let’s take a moment to look back to the last #TOPO application, and the reasons for refusal.

First reason: Relating to the 12-storey unit between the two listed buildings, in terms of its height and design in context with other buildings. Approved unanimously as a rejection.

Second reason: Lack of 3-bedroom accommodation on the site (DM13). Approved as objection 9-2.

Third reason: In respect to the tallest building on the site, this does not relate to the character of surrounding buildings. Approved as a rejection 7-4. The final reason for refusal received a round of applause from the gallery.

All Kingston Councillors voted against the last proposal.

19.37

“The overall design has changed, as well as its scale and height.” — David Horkan, Planning Officer for @RBKingston

19.36

The view from the gallery…

19.35

“There has been an increase in three bedroom units, from 9.8% to 11.6%” — David Horkan

19.34

  • The main change – 338 to 319 units of accommodation
  • The building between the listed buildings has been reduced in height
  • There is an improvement in 3-bedroom accommodation

Over 300 letters objecting to the applications. Kingston Society, Mill Street and Riverside Residents Associations and Kingston Residents Alliance all objecting.

There have been 40 letters of support, including from KingstonFirst and Kingston Chamber of Commerce.

19.32

David Horkan, planning officer, is presenting the application to the members and gallery now.

19.31

Housekeeping now before the meeting starts.

19.30

19.28

Good evening everyone. James Giles here @CoombeMonthlyEd keeping you updated live from Kingston’s Guildhall on the latest from #TOPO Committee tonight, where the fate of the site will be decided.

Catch the latest from our live blog here, and our live stream above.

21.42

Thank you for following our live blog this evening. Tonight’s application for Tolworth Tower has been approved.

21.41

FOR

Cllr Hugh Scantlebury

Cllr Mike Head

Cllr Paul Bedforth

Cllr Jack Cheetham

Cllr Gaj Wallooppillai

Cllr David Glasspool

Cllr Andrea Craig

AGAINST

Cllr Bill Brisbane

Cllr Malcolm Self

Cllr Lorraine Rolfe

Cllr Rebekah Moll

 

21.41

FOR = 7

AGAINST = 4

ABSTAIN = 0

The scheme is permitted.

21.40

It’s time to vote! Officers recommend to permit.

21.38

Nicola Smith is making a final summary on comments.

“The £3m is a gift on what this development can afford”, she says.

21.33

“This country has to start providing family housing and flats, just like other European countries do. Just because they are flats, does not mean they can be good quality flats for families. If we don’t accept this, we will never get anywhere near our target for 3 bedroom units in this borough. I am inclined to refuse on these grounds.” — Cllr Brisbane

21.31

“I tend to agree with Cllr Glasspool and I am in approval of this.” — Cllr Cheetham.

Cllr Brisbane up now.

21.30

Cllr Cheetham up now. “The affordability aspect keeps coming up. Our hands are tied – we can’t do anything more about this affordability issue. The character of the area… I admit that this development doesn’t fit in with the character, but there is a lot of change going on in this area.”

21.27

“It’s not a Croydon, it’s Tolworth district centre, so why go above the density matrix? It’s beyond me.” – Cllr Self

21.26

Cllr Self up now. “I concur with a lot of that. I think of this application in two parts… the existing tower – if it were a blank canvass, would we approve a 23 storey high rise? I don’t think that needs an answer. I do support bringing it back into use and regenerating it. The refurbishment of the tower I support. On the rest of the tower, we have received an e-mail from Cllr Hudson urging us to refuse this application, and I am inclined to take his advice.”

21.24

“I am concerned that we are just providing studios, one bedroom, two bedroom, and not family accommodation.”

“If you look at the aerial view, if you take away the new proposed buildings, the only tall building is the existing tower. The surrounding area is housing or low-rise shops. The existing tower does not set a precedent for acceptable height.”

21.23

Cllr Moll now.

21.22

Cllr Lorraine Rolfe up now. “Views from Hamilton Avenue are not in keeping with the local area in my opinion. I think it is an overdevelopment, and just because there is one tall building, which we do welcome the redevelopment of, does not mean we need to replicate that tall building. It is above density matrix, the air quality is poor, and while I appreciate if Tolworth Tower was full of offices there would be more cars around, it hasn’t been and hasn’t been for a number of years.”

21.20

“On balance, I am inclined to accept it.” says Cllr Scantlebury.

One member in gallery shouts “Shame!”

21.18

David Glasspool up. “We have been listening carefully to all points made today. The initial discussion was all about public opinion… We need to think very carefully about these policy issues, and the framework in which we operate. Some strong issues have been raised – the principle of the development is accepted as a residential lock with additional density. On density, it is difficult, because housing is a strong imperative right across the borough, so there is real benefits to have additional housing coming into the borough. It will increase supply significantly… It is difficult to refuse on grounds of density.

There is the three-bedroom homes issue, which is a development point in the whole area. Traffic is something that everyone has a strong opinion about. We are getting advice that the net impact is not going to be significant, which many don’t believe. Again, we have to think in planning terms, and listen to advice and arguments from TfL.

On parking, going from precedent and experience, I think there is quite a large amount of car parking being provided here. I feel there is sufficient car parking spaces.”

21.13

Questions from committee members to officers have now concluded, time for comments.

21.13

To clarify, trees are to be planted within the applicant ownership area, following a question from Cllr Scantlebury on trees.

21.12

21.12

“There is no appetite in the local area for a CPZ (controlled parking zone), so we are not investigating that.” — Nicola Smith

21.08

“It is either two or three spaces.” — Nicola Smith

Laughter from the gallery.

21.08

“How many spaces will the ‘car club’ scheme offer?” — Cllr Craig

21.07

Here’s an extract from Cllr Liz Green’s personal statement earlier today about development plans in Kingston:

“Generally in London there seems to be a gold rush on property development, with more and more high rise, high density, small but hugely expensive flats becoming the norm and Kingston Borough seems to be caught up in it.

Yes, some of these sites need developing; yes, we need more homes; but do we need them at any cost to future generations? Personally, I don’t think any of these applications are good enough.

By the end of March, the Conservative led Council will be deciding on some of the most important and irreversible decisions to have been taken by Kingston’s Councillors in recent years, I hope they will make the right decisions.”

21.05

“There are now 10 properties falling into the affordable housing category… is that right?” — Cllr Craig

“This is an area of dispute on technicalities between officers and applicants. The 10 units referred to onsite would be marketed with a 20% discount on the market rate, in line with Government proposals on starter homes. To be able to afford a unit on this site, even with 20% discount, you would not fall into our affordable criteria. Although it is a more affordable product, and meets the need for those who are not on the housing waiting list, but also can’t get a mortgage.” — Nicola Smith

21.03

Local resident Mike Way comments from Facebook “Save the tower!”

21.01

21.01

21.00

“What does £3m mean in the real world?” — Cllr Craig
“I’d really love to be able to give you a figure… Our housing team is not able to provide a figure due to the huge number of variables, and it is therefore hard for me to comment on whether this is a sizeable sum, so it is something that is very hard to answer. All I can say is that it is agreed by the appointed independent assessors that this scheme can support no affordable housing at all, making £3m a gift on top of this.” — Nicola Smith

20.58

Councillor Lorraine Rolfe again. “Were local GPs consulted on this development?”

“No, they were not consulted… There was a health impact assessment, that was assessed by council public health team, and they have confirmed the findings were correct, and we are in consultation with the NHS trust about GP provision in the surrounding area.”

20.57

“Marks and Spencer have raised no objection to the moving of the parking.” says Nicola Smith.

20.56

Nicola Smith responds, saying “In terms of planning permission, there are no standards for the number of lifts to serve different uses. The fact that some stores have more, less, that is just that. M&S are tenants, and it would not necessarily be their responsibility to provide lifts. All access stairwells would be refurbished as part of this development, including lifts.”

20.54

Cllr Self now. “I was hoping the officer would be able to provide clarification on the lift in Marks and Spencer. At the moment, I believe there is one small lift that is useful for a Marks and Spencer shop… The relevancy is that the retail car park will move from ground to first floors, leading to a greater demand for the lift. Similar stores, such as in Surbiton town centre, you have at least two large lifts… Given the parking is moving to a different floor, is it just the case it is up to Marks and Spencer to sort this out themselves?”

20.52

Cllr Bedforth now. “About job creation… Do we know what the net loss/gain of employment creation would be?”

Officer Nicola Smith… “No, not in figures, however it is very similar in terms of retail space to the current provision.”

20.48

There is car club provision in the development for residents.

20.47

Q: “The report mentions viewpoint two, yet we have not seen this in our pack or on the screen.”
A: “I don’t include everything in the pack, otherwise we would all have a huge box. There is no particular reason why viewpoint two was missed off…”

Q: “But it was referenced in the pack?”

A: “Yes.”

Cllr Rolfe makes a ‘valid point’ says Chair Hugh Scantlebury, and that in future referenced documents and images should be included in packs.

20.44

Cllr Lorraine Rolfe speaking now… She has had concerns from residents that the consultation was unclear.

20.40

Questioning of planning officers continues from committee members…

20.37

“How often is the density exceeded in the London Plan?” asks Cllr David Glasspool

“To be honest, I honestly can’t comment on densities across London and how often they exceed the density matrix. In terms of GLA response, they note that density is above the density matrix.” responds Nicola Smith

20.35

“It is very hard for us to make rational decisions on this issue without more information” – Cllr Bill Brisbane

20.34

Residents appear surprised at the developer claims regarding Tolworth roundabout…

20.33

Interesting fact: Only 35% of the office space within Tolworth Tower was used in 2014.

20.32

Hook Rise Residents’ are opposing the application…

They cite the following reasons for objection:

“Will have an impact on long range views from Fairmeade, Hamilton Ave. and Metropolitan Open Land, loss of 100 car parking spaces, insufficient 3 bedroom units, impact on air pollution and that the proposal is a complete overdevelopment of the site”

20.30

On increased traffic… “TfL is not saying the development will make the situation better, but that there will be no net harm on the [roundabout].”

20.28

Committee members are now questioning officers.

20.27

Tolworth Councillors receive a round of applause from the gallery, as did Alexandra councillors.

20.25

“I use Tolworth Roundabout on a regular basis, and the traffic has heavily increased. The point made about traffic increase is not accepted. 370 new units will increase traffic significantly.” — Cllr Thay Thayalan

20.22

“The last thing I will say is that TfL is totally failing London – they don’t care about density. Why? They don’t live here.” — Cllr Hudson.

20.21

“This committee has a history of rejecting applications which come back to us, improved, far better later on.” – Cllr Hudson

20.21

“Finally, affordable housing. It is well below the 50% requirement and is nowhere near enough in our view. It does not provide proper affordable housing for local people. We are not against new development in the area, but are against the overdevelopment on the Tolworth Tower site.” — Cllr Hayes

20.20

“Plans for 370 new flats will increase the pressure on local roads and cause major parking problems in the surrounding roads, no question.” — Alexandra Councillors

20.19

“The surrounding area is made up of detached and family houses. The proposals are totally out of keeping with the local area. We acknowledge the developers have reduced the height of one of the towers, but only by a few flats. The Hook Rise Residents Association make this point well…” — Cllr Hayes

“Tall buildings are appropriate in town centres however Tolworth is not a town centre.” – Hook Rise Residents’ Association.

20.18

Alexandra and Tolworth Councillors are speaking tonight on behalf of their residents.

20.17

*Ward councillors.

20.17

Councillors are now speaking about the proposals.

20.13

“What is your basis for this?” – Cllr Self.

“We had 53 letters for support.” – CNM

“I don’t take 53 as the majority for Tolworth.” – Cllr Self

“I didn’t say they support the scheme, but that they welcome the proposals.” – Tania, CNM

20.12

A delayed response from CNM…

“We have engaged with residents and businesses in terms of asking their opinion, and we believe that these proposals deliver a fantastic regeneration scheme for Tolworth.”

20.11

Councillor Self up first. “You say the silent majority of Tolworth residents support the application… If so, how do you know this?”

20.10

Questions now being put to the applicants.

20.08

“I don’t care how many people with their desk-based reports say traffic won’t get worse… I live on the road, I suffer from air quality… It will get worse!” says Bridget.

20.07

“We know Kingston has a shortage of 3-bedroom housing, affordable housing… I can’t understand why it is okay to say we don’t need affordable housing there of a development of 376 units. I don’t think £3m will go anywhere near the need for a 50% affordable requirement.” says Bridget.

20.06

20.06

Councillor Self first. “Would you say you are on a limb in opposing the application?”

Response: “I’m very concerned that the 446 signatories on the objection petition has not been mentioned at all tonight. This number far outweighs the number supporting the application.”

20.04

Questions are now being asked from committee members to the objectors.

20.04

“In conclusion, the scheme will bring new leisure facilities, parking, homes whilst retaining the highly successful M&S and Travelodge. £15m of investment for Tolworth, including investment for affordable housing.”

20.02

“We can confirm, as assessed, there will be no additional traffic impact on the roads around Tolworth.”

20.01

“On site parking has been discussed – all two and three bedroom units will now have one bedroom each – an overall ratio of 0.8 to 1 – that is 80% of the units will have one parking space.”

20.00

“The number of objections is reasonably low and is in contrast with other Kingston schemes which have had objections into the high hundreds.

The silent majority of residents in Tolworth are in support and favour of these proposals.”

19.59

Tania from CNM is speaking for five minutes. “We believe that Tolworth Tower can once again revitalise Tolworth and will bring forth a comprehensive package of long-lasting benefits. It will bring the tower back into productive use. Provide green spaces, a new urban park, an exceptional public realm, job opportunities to stimulate the local economy and secure the long term future of M&S and Travelodge, all with ample parking. It will kickstart the regeneration of Tolworth.”

19.58

Applicants from CNM now have five minutes to speak.

19.57

“This is gross over-development. The traffic at the roundabout is already at 98% capacity, and we have a huge amount of poor air quality in the area. I would ask the committee to reject this application.”

19.56

Next up a resident of 42 years from Tolworth.

19.56

“Please don’t turn Tolworth into Croydon… Traffic on the A3 will certainly not reduce as a result of this development. The roundabout doesn’t need anymore traffic to make it a huge issue. I don’t think the landscape plan is viable. We need to make a sensible decision if we are to avoid a catastrophic decision for the future.”

19.54

“I agree with all speakers at the pre-hearing meeting against the proposals. I notice that the three month delay by CNM has resulted in minimal change, the increase of height of one tower, has allowed officers more time to find reasons why this complies with reasons and regulations, and provide councillors time to forget about what happened pre-meeting, and more letters have been sent in to support, as well as object. I don’t find their points of view very persuasive. I’ll leave it at that. The homes that are provided are not what the area needs and the people will be isolated from the rest of Tolworth.”

 

Bridget Walker, resident of 32 years of Ewell Road up now.

19.52

Officers have now concluded, and objectors now have five minutes to put their case across. Michael Hope from Hook Rise North up first.

19.51

“Officers recommend to approve, subject to a referral under section two to the Mayor of London.”

19.50

Residents and members are now being shown views from various points around Tolworth with an interpretation of the look of the site from a distance. Noticeably denser and larger than current site.

19.48

“Officers have considered the affordable housing offer, which has again increased since previously presented. £3m offsite provision has been offered plus a review mechanism. The viability appraisal has been assessed by our independent assessor and they are of the conclusion that it is not viable to provide affordable housing… £3m is the greatest offer that the council can hope to achieve for the site.”

19.45

“This proposal will deal with any increase in traffic… In relation to parking however, TfL think there is too much parking proposed, yet RBK officers believe there is insufficient parking proposed.”

19.44

Residents have been tweeting in objecting to the plans in Tolworth. George Hutchins said:

Tweet us @CoombeMonthly with your views.

19.44

19.42

“Officers consider this application is appropriate… but is however appropriate to mention that the heights of the buildings are significantly different to others in the area, predominantly two storey buildings… Officers raise no objection to the development in regards to its effect of the character of the area.”

19.40

“Officers consider that the conversion of this existing building is appropriate, and the retention of a number of floors, six in total for office space, is welcomed, to retain employment in the district centre. Good mixes are provided of use which are also appropriate for district centres. The plan is significantly above the density matrix for the London plan, 293 dwellings per hectare. In addition, as this is a GLA-referrable application, and while they have commented it is above their matrix, they do not raise it as a matter they are concerned about and to be addressed.” — Nicola Smith, council officer.

19.38

The scheme has been revised since it originally came to DCC last year, making the high rise closest to the broadway lower than it was previously.

19.37

“The scheme is effectively for the refurbishment of the existing Tolworth Tower. The first six floors from the ground will be refurbished office space, the next four serviced apartments, and the rest providing dwellings, giving a total of 200 new residential units.

M&S and Travelodge will continue to trade and be retained through the building program.”

19.35

IMG_2236

In the late material, James Berry MP, Richard Hudson and thirty-two residents have raised objections, in addition to others prior to the deadline.

19.33

Chair of the DCC, Richard Hudson, is not serving on the committee tonight, but is in the public gallery.

19.30

Local Conservative councillors have also spoken out against the plans.

They launched a petition saying ‘Tolworth deserves better’

19.28

James Berry MP is objecting to the plans for Tolworth Tower redevelopment.

19.27

The proposals in brief for #Tolworth Tower:

  • The site of Tolworth Tower is to be converted into 311 homes, 68 ‘serviced apartments’, ‘upgraded’ office space and retail space, and a new public realm to Marks and Spencers providing a direct link to Tolworth Broadway and pedestrian crossings.
  • Marks and Spencer and Travelodge will remain during the redevelopment, if it goes ahead
  • 2038 residents were consulted on the plans, and the top concerns included making ‘Tolworth look like a city’, ‘Insufficient infrastructure capacity’ and the fact that ‘High rise buildings are not needed in Tolworth’.

19.24

This evening’s meeting will begin shortly… Relatively good turnout for a DCC meeting, but nothing compared to recent meetings over the TOPO development.

17.36

Tonight is decision time for the Tolworth Tower proposals. We will be bringing you all the latest on Twitter, @CoombeMonthly and here on our live blog, starting at 7:30pm tonight.

21.38

The meeting is over. Thank you for following us this evening.

21.37

First reason: Relating to the 12-storey unit between the two listed buildings, in terms of its height and design in context with other buildings.

This reason has been approved as a reason for objection unanimously.

Second reason: Lack of 3-bedroom accommodation on the site (DM13).

This reason has been approved as a reason for objection 9-2.

Third reason: In respect to the tallest building on the site, this does not relate to the character of surrounding buildings.

This reason is approved as a reason for rejection 7-4.

The final reason for refusal receives a round of applause from the gallery.

21.33

Cllr Brisbane: “We are not against major development on this site, including some tallish buildings, and the developers are going to hear what we are saying. We want to work with the developers to achieve their objectives but we are very unhappy with this scheme.”

Time for a vote on reason for refusal.

21.32

“We’ve gone against recommendations before, and appeal inspectors have stood with our grounds for refusal before. Therefore, we should include the reasons that Cllr Brisbane said, about exemplar design.”

Large applause from the gallery.

21.30

Councillor Hudson is taking Viv’s advice.

Grounds for refusal are:

a) Not following DM13

and

b) The lack of 3-bedroom housing

21.27

21.27

Councillors are determined to state ‘scale and bulk’ as grounds for refusal, but Viv Evans is adamant that it is not a sustainable argument.

21.27

21.26

“The issue is scale and bulk. That is what is wrong with this proposal.” says Malcolm Self.

21.25

The committee supports the grounds for refusal on lack of 3 bedroom housing.

21.24

21.24

21.20

Councillors are currently discussing reasons for refusal, and Councillor Malcolm Self argues that the “issue of permeability” is key on grounds for refusal.

Viv Evans disagrees.

21.18

Former Councillor Trevor Heap warns residents the plans will surely be back:

21.16

“15% affordability simply isn’t acceptable” says Councillor Self, adding “I would put that in as a reason for refusal.”.

21.14

Representatives from St George PLC sitting in the public gallery do not look particularly pleased at the result. #KingstonTOPO

21.12

Viv Evans: “The issue with design is that if members choose to refuse on design grounds, they need to state exactly what it is about the design that is wrong and wants improvement.”

Residents shout “All of it!” and “Come on Viv!”

21.10

21.10

21.10

Viv Evans, Kingston’s Head of Planning, is now summing up on the vote to reject the development site of the former Post Office.

21.09

REJECTED! Councillors unanimously vote against the development of the site. A pleasing result for many residents tonight.

21.08

21.08

Proposal A3 was passed 10-1, which was to rejuvenate and restore the listed Telephone Exchange on the site. Only Cllr Malcolm Self voted against this proposal.

21.07

Proposals A2 were unanimously passed. These were proposals to rejuvenate and restore the listed building that is the Old Post Office.

21.06

The development of new buildings on the site was rejected.

21.05

A unanimous vote against proposal A1 (erection of new buildings) this evening to large applause from the gallery.

21.05

Time for a vote!

21.04

“The harm far outweighs the benefits to this ancient Royal Borough of Kingston.” — Lorraine Rolfe #KingstonTOPO

21.04

Councillor Lorraine Rolfe speaking now. “I found it ironic looking at the photographs, that there was an advertisement saying free prescription sunglasses… I don’t think you’ll actually need it from the sunlight going into the community space!”

21.03

21.03

“We must provide something that is not just adequate today, but also to the decades ahead” says Hugh Scantlebury.

21.02

“I have a real problem with the lack of affordable housing in the scheme, and I think it is a real serious issue. The last issue I will raise is that when you put together a development brief, this doesn’t fundamentally follow it. It completely ignores the height in key areas, and the tower keeps going up and down, changing design… I like some of the design in this proposal, but I just think that we should demand exemplar architecture, and I don’t believe this provides exemplar design. They must be special, and that is not special.” — Councillor Hugh Scantlebury #KingstonTOPO

21.00

Hugh Scantlebury says that “Developers should start with the targets for affordable housing. We certainly don’t achieve as low as 15% from our target of 50%, as it is in this proposal.”

20.59

20.59

Cllr Hugh Scantlebury criticises the public consultation process, praising Councillor Jon Tolley’s earlier point, saying ‘we need more affordable housing in our borough’.

20.58

Councillor Jack Cheetham does not appear to be in favour of the proposals tonight, saying they are ‘not adequate’. #KingstonTOPO

20.57

20.56

Residents are tweeting their support for the Residents Alliance this evening:

20.55

Green Party 2015 General Election candidate in Richmond Park, Andree Frieze, has written to councillors against the proposals tonight.

Her letter can be found here: https://actionagainstapathy.wordpress.com/2015/11/05/open-letter-to-kingston-councillors-about-st-george-and-topo/

20.54

20.54

20.53

20.53

20.53

Councillors are all concerned about affordable housing and the lack of consultation, and not one has supported the plans so far.

20.52

20.52

“I feel the proposed scheme has the ability to generate its own market.” says James Purvis of BNP Paribas.

20.50

“We’re banking on residential sales values continuing to grow in the next few years.” says Mr Purvis.

20.48

“We’re not looking at potential revenue growth, we’re looking at sales values as of today. On the basis of current day values, the scheme is not economically viable, however we believe it could become viable over the three or five years we have planning permission.” says Mr Purvis in response to Cllr Hudson’s question asking why a developer would present a proposal that isn’t economically viable.

20.46

James Purvis from BNP Paribas being questioned up next.

20.45

Gaj Wallooppillai up now. “We expect the best and want more for Kingston. We’re not Wandsworth. We’re not a transitioning community. We expect better.”

20.43

“From a planning point of view, this is really relevant for me, as we have to have valid reasons for rejecting. We want the housing to be truly affordable and want more affordable housing. I haven’t yet made a conclusion, and would like to hear from some other councillors with their views.”

20.42

“Affordable housing is a difficult housing. Even the ‘affordable housing’ isn’t affordable.” — Cllr David Glasspool #KingstonTOPO

20.41

20.41

“Some recent improvements have been made. I don’t know whether this was from residents or otherwise… There have been significant improvements along Wheatfield Way, but I do have problems with the East elevation, which I call the ‘Look from the East’. This is the viewpoint where you can see the entirety of the proposal and there are several things going on here which show a view they will see coming into Kingston. It has a ‘blocky’ look.” — Cllr Glasspool

20.39

“The latest application has brought the height down, and this takes away from the intrusion of the building.” — Cllr Glasspool #KingstonTOPO

20.38

“I don’t think the views of local residents have been particularly well looked after in this proposal, which is unlike them who usually take into account resident views well” says Cllr Glasspool

20.36

Some fireworks appear to be going off outside… will there be some ‘fireworks’ inside from the gallery if the plans are given the go-ahead? #KingstonTOPO

20.35

Councillor Glasspool is speaking now. He speaks about the national housing crisis, saying “we do need to address our housing need”. “We also need to be aware that this is a town centre destination with very good transport links, and the density allowed by the London Plan is always going to be quite high, and then there is the coming on to regenerating a derelict Post Office and Telephone Exchange.”

20.32

“This proposal conflicts with a number of RBK planning policies and guidelines. Whilst this scheme might be appropriate in Vauxhall, it is inappropriate in this historic market town. We need a regeneration of this site, but not this scheme!” — Cllr Brisbane

20.31

“I do not consider that the inadequate provision of affordable housing will be a benefit.” — Bill Brisbane #KingstonTOPO

20.30

Bill Brisbane is against the plans, saying the 16-storey tower will “shadow three conservation areas, the Fairfield, Market Place, and other places of notable interest.” #KingstonTOPO

20.26

20.25

Councillor Bill Brisbane speaking now.

20.24

Cllr Self receives a large round of applause from the gallery.

20.24

“The Leader of the Council made comments in regards to the 19-storey version, saying the proposals “don’t stir my heart” and I agree with him.” — Cllr Self #KingstonTOPO

20.22

20.22

20.21

Cllr Self says there are fundamental flaws with the design of the scheme. “It is not good, and certainly not exemplar. How anyone would suggest that is beyond me.” #KingstonTOPO

20.20

Councillor Self says “This is a historic market town, not an urban suburb. The design concept is wrong. It is not just that there are tall high rises, and I think the whole scheme is ‘blockage’ in design.” #KingstonTOPO

20.19

You can find James Berry and Zac Goldsmith’s letters at the Surrey Comet website:

“Kingston can do far better”: MP James Berry slams Kingston town centre tower block’s lack of affordable housing

Zac Goldsmith comes out against Kingston 16-storey tower with just 5 per cent affordable housing

20.18

Councillor Self is speaking briefly now ‘in general’ about the plans.

20.17

20.16

Councillor Phil Doyle says “I’ve changed my mind. It is as simple as that.”

20.16

Malcolm Self attended this meeting with “an open mind” and says “I’m just wondering if I’m missing something. If I was minded to approve the 19-storey version, would I be in favour of approving the 16-storey version. When it was 19-storeys, you were for the development, but now it is 16-storeys you are against it. Have I missed something?”

20.15

Phil Doyle will now be quizzed by Councillors.

20.14

“Zac Goldsmith and James Berry, our Kingston MPs, have both written to this committee speaking against this development, asking you to reject the plans. They think Kingston deserves better, and I just hope the members of this committee agree with them.” — Phil Doyle

20.13

“We need a design that is more sympathetic to other developments nearby, shows respect in its design for Kingston’s heritage, and affordable housing.” #KingstonTOPO — Phil Doyle

20.12

“The most important point about this development is that the residents are not against development on this site, they are against this development on this site. What they are saying is that this development is not good enough for Kingston. They believe as I do is that Kingston deserves better. What I ask you do is ask developers to go back and think again.” #KingstonTOPO — Phil Doyle

20.11

Cllr Phil Doyle speaking against #KingstonTOPO now.

20.10

“For us to go against what the local area residents want, it would cause a constitutional crisis, for which we could only hope the Lords were here” says Jon Tolley to laughter an applause in the gallery.

20.10

20.09

“All three ward councillors have spoken out against these plans, along with our two local MPs” says Cllr Jon Tolley.

20.08

“We owe a tireless debt to the KRA who have strived to have something better for Kingston.” — Cllr Moll #KingstonTOPO

20.07

Cllrs Rebekah Moll and Jon Tolley are speaking now.

20.07

Apologies! Our Livestream was having issues with sound. It should now be fixed. #KingstonTOPO

20.04

Developers respond with “When we bought the site, we weren’t intending to keep the telephone exchange. It doesn’t share the same structure as the Post Office, but because people told us they wanted to keep it, we did. We have reduced height across the site and we’ve increased the site of the public realm.”

20.03

Deputy Leader of Kingston Council wants to know what has changed as a result of consultation since the first submission.

20.03

“Particular details of Kingston buildings are the types of stones and brick used in buildings.

There isn’t really a ‘Kingston character’ as such when you walk around the town and buildings.

We hope to provide a really interesting and rich pallet for Kingston.”

20.02

Malcolm Self questions whether the plans actually do reflect the character of Kingston or not. He wants to know how it reflects Kingston’s character.

20.01

“Our commitment to you is that we will deliver a great new place for the borough if you grant us permission tonight.” #KingstonTOPO

20.01

“330 homes will be provided, and 49 will be affordable.” says developers, to ruckus in the public gallery.

20.00

“Our investment will provide over £100mn of investment to Kingston town centre.” says Mike of St George PLC

19.59

We’re taking a moment to reflect back on the campaign to stop TOPO being given the green light from this year…

19.58

Mike Regenza of St. George PLC is speaking first. “We have employed two award-winning architects to design a master plan that will create a new gateway and welcome to the town centre. It will compliment the town centre with niche shops and restaurants. We will restore the listed buildings and are committing £8bn to bring this back into use.”

19.57

This is particularly key he says as they kept their speech within 5 minutes.

19.57

Mr McMorrow says that as he wasn’t informed that they would have ten minutes, the developers should not either. The public gallery are certainly not happy.

19.54

St. George are up now, and have ten minutes.

19.54

He says “You have seen the opinion of our barrister, and the opinion of Historic England. You are our councillors, you are elected to represent us. It is your responsibility – your responsibility to reject these applications fully and wholeheartedly. If you don’t, you’ll damn this town forever.”

19.53

The last speaker is up now, who has lived in Kingston all of his life.

19.53

“2000 residents have said ‘no’ to this, but developers are ignoring this. This site will set a precedent for the development of Kingston over the next 25 years, so let us get it right. Refuse this poor, rushed design and build something we can all be proud to call a gateway to Kingston.”

19.52

“It is not of exceptional architectural design” says Rory, taking this quote from Kevin Davis’ objection to the second submission.

 

19.51

Rory McMorrow from Wheatfield Way now, speaking on behalf of the KRA.

19.51

“As councillors you have an important decision to make tonight. If you read the packs sent out to you all, you will have seen our QC’s opinion on the site. You could be faced with a challenge in the High Court if this goes ahead. On behalf of Kingston residents, please, reject this application.”

19.50

“The officers report takes no account into the damage of nearby residential areas, on the character of the listed buildings, or the conservation areas, which will be harmed. It will have a detrimental and irreversible impact on London, as far as Hampton Court.”

19.49

Anthony Evans is representing the Kingston Society tonight.

19.48

To much cheering and applause, three representatives are speaking against the proposals. They have ten minutes.

19.47

The Council officers recommend that the Councillors permit the application.

19.45

“It is considered that there is no substantial harm to Kingston’s heritage assets.” says Council officer, David Horkan

19.43

19.43

19.43

David Horkan is talking about heritage assets now.

19.42

“While there is some increase in height, it is nonetheless considered to be acceptable, given that parts of the development are lower than the brief guidance.” — David Horkan

19.41

19.41

David Horkan is Group Manager for Development Management at Kingston Council. #KingstonTOPO

19.39

Photographs are now being shown of the proposed site using ‘classic Kingston materials’. Shouts of “shame” come from the gallery.

19.39

“The architecture does mitigate the environment” says Mr Horkan to much laughter in the public gallery.

19.38

“The scheme has been amended since it was first submitted. The tallest element is now 16 storeys, which is placed at a gateway to the town.”

19.37

(said David Horkan, Council Officer)

19.37

“The principle of the site is welcome. This will provide high quality retail and housing accommodation and will provide welcome employment opportunities. A ‘Tech Hub’ within the telephone exchange will provide a much needed space for start ups. The number of units proposed will go some way to help us achieve our housing target.”

19.35

Paul Bedforth, Rebekah Moll and Geoff Austin are absent tonight and representatives have been sent. #KingstonTOPO

19.33

We’re back up and working! Cllr Hugh Scantlebury receives a round of applause for fixing the sound.

19.33

“It’s outrageous we can’t even hear what you’re saying! We haven’t even kicked off!” says local resident!

19.31

Crikey! Once again, the speakers are not working!

19.31

The meeting has begun. This evening, it’s decision time. #KingstonTOPO

19.29

We are about to begin. Remember, in addition to our live blog, you can follow our live stream on our website.

19.25

Send us your comments on Twitter this evening using hashtag #KingstonTOPO

19.23

Seating is now full in the Guildhall, with residents now having to stand at the back in order to watch the meeting.

19.16

We’re set for a good attendance tonight. The meeting will begin at 7:30pm.

16.28

This live blog will begin at 7:30pm tonight.

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