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  • CarolineShah

Cambridge Road Estate - SHOCK changes shows how Kingston Council's plans will impact us all

Updated: Mar 23, 2022

Fewer "affordable" flats, sales price increase, lower developer contributions to fund schools and doctors, and fewer funds to spend on other social housing across the Borough

Kingston Council takes a Business Plan for the first phase of the Cambridge Road Estate demolition and rebuild to committee this Thursday for approval

Hidden in the long report are several paragraphs which basically admit that, despite having been approved only on 21 December 2021, the project is already

Commercially Unviable

So, is the council proposing that the company doing the development reduces its profits or that the project is put on hold or even abandoned, or that Phase One is reconfigured?

Absolutely not

Kingston Council and Countrywide Properties, the entities in the partnership doing the development are recommending that this Thursday councillors approve:

  • 15 fewer "affordable" flats are provided and that these are sold as private flats instead

  • The price of flats for sale is increased

  • Deferral of infrastructure costs relating to a community centre and energy centre which means less investment in doctors, schools and other social and other infrastructure to support the 302 extra families to be housed in Phase One over current estate numbers

You can read the relevant excerpts from the report here:

So why should you care that this project is not commercially viable?

First, the proposed deferral of a proportion of site-wide infrastructure costs associated with provision of a community centre and energy centre arising from Phase One of the development could have a significantly detrimental effect on residents of the Borough to the extent that the deferral is a deferral of Section 106 payments or other such contributions that would be used to fund social infrastructure improvements across the Borough such as schools and health services which are already in drastically short supply.

Phase One of the Cambridge Road Development will deliver homes for private sale for 317 new families which will put massive pressure on local services unless further and adequate investment is made in advance of Phase One of this development being completed.

It is not completely clear to what "deferral of infrastructure costs" actually refers. If the proposed deferral of costs refers actually to the deferral of infrastructure SPENDING associated with building or operating the community centre and energy centre, the situation is equally bad, as these features are a key part of the planning application that Members of Kingston Council approved as part of Phase One in December 2021 and the failure to secure their provision would be a significant breach of London Plan policies to ensure people have access to sporting and recreational facilities and that developments demonstrate energy sustainability.

Second, any losses that the council incurs on this project will be borne by the Housing Revenue Account from which expenditure is made on housing owned by the council across the borough

Here is an excerpt from the report to councillors in which the risk is mentioned, albeit it in a rather circuitous and understated kind of way:

Funds from the Housing Revenue Account are what the council uses to build NEW affordable and social housing and to fund repairs on existing social housing, so any losses incurred on the Cambridge Road Estate project will mean:

  • Fewer new social and affordable homes, meaning more people staying on council housing waiting lists and in temporary accommodation

  • Repairs and maintenance to existing social housing not happening or being deferred

  • Greater levels of deprivation on council housing estates

  • Increasing levels of inequality between residents across the Borough

  • More community and social unrest

Don't be fooled - what happens to The Cambridge Road Estate will affect us all

Please donate to fund a legal opinion as to whether the decision to go ahead with the project in the first place is even legally sound

Here is a list of the councillors who will decide whether to approve the "commercially unviable" Business Plan for the Cambridge Road Estate

Please write to any of these councillors and let them know what you think about the Council's plans. Andreas Kirsch is Head of the Council on behalf of the Liberal Democrats and Kevin Davis is head of Kingston Conservatives

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