No climate emergency in Kingston?
Consultation on developers’ proposals to build a massive high-rise complex on Canbury Place Car Park in Canbury Ward, North Kingston, closed last Friday, bang in the middle of the COP26 climate change conference. The proposals include a 17-storey tower which, if approved, will be the highest tower yet to be seen in Kingston
Astonishingly, the proposals may well breach critical climate change policies agreed in the new London Plan which state that:
major developments should be "net zero carbon"
shortfalls should be provided for off-site or through a cash in lieu contribution only where it is “clearly demonstrated that the zero carbon target cannot be fully achieved on site”,
“boroughs should ensure that…all developments maximise opportunities for on-site electricity and heat production from solar technologies ”
So, here we have three high rise towers, in the middle of an area of lower buildings, the roofs of which will be exposed happily to sunshine throughout the day
However, the developers are not taking any opportunity to harness the solar power that will beat down on the buildings and are instead offering to pay Kingston Council a fixed amount of compensation for not meeting their zero carbon target for a development for which the building material has not yet even been decided*
You might well ask why any developer would choose to forfeit such an obvious opportunity use solar power in this development
And you might well be shocked by the answer, which is that the developers are proposing that roof spaces are used solely as the private outdoor space for the 750 or so new residents in the absence of sufficient alternative open space on the site
Then there is the question of why the development does not meet the Mayor of London's requirement for public access to the top of a prominent tower with views across London
Sadiq Khan made this decree in his new London Plan in order to mitigate against the deleterious effect of new development at this kind of density and height in established neighbourhoods. By allowing public access, people who do not live in towers - such as the proposed 17-storey tower on Canbury Place Car Park - can at least share the views of London afforded by the towers - one of the key benefits of building at such height - at least until there are too many towers
The developers argue that this requirement should not apply in the case of their proposal for Canbury Place Car Park on the grounds that the new buildings are not "prominent" and will not afford views across "London"
But this is patently nonsense
At 17 storeys high, this development will be the tallest building in Kingston and, last time I looked, Kingston, Richmond, and Hampton - all of which will be visible from the top of the tower - were very much part of London
It takes a certain type of proposal to breach two major policies of The new London Plan, but that is what you get when you try and squeeze 750 people or more in to the space of a small car park
*The Addendum Energy Statement for the Canbury Place Car Park development planning application states in Point 4.4.1 that “proposed development is likely to be constructed using typical concrete frame with curtain walls” (my italics)