No place for women or young children in Kingston's social housing redevelopment
Updated: 4 days ago
There are many things wrong with the planning application for the demolition and rebuild at three times density of The Royal Borough of Kingston's largest social housing estate, The Cambridge Road Estate. The proposed development, in which Kingston Councnil is joint partner will purportedly raise the local population by 35% by the time it is finished in about 15 years.
In my response to the consultation, I have listed 23 reasons why the proposal should not go ahead, from an Equalities Impact Assessment that is woefully inadequate and reveals the extent to which the needs of people with protected characteristics on and beyond the Estate have been overlooked, to severe risks of overheating and pollution in the new flats, lack of health facilities and inadequate and inappropriate open spaces for residents. Then there is the fact that - at the last minute - changes were made so that key features of the new Estate such as the scale, layout and appearance of the Estate will not be decided until years in to the future.
But the one thing that keeps sticking in my mind is that - despite acknowledging that there are many young families on the Estate, the council avoids saying many young children there are - only referring to the number of households with one or more children under 5 years of age - and makes no attempt to identify any children with protected characteristics or to assess specific needs of young children and their mothers and fathers, particularly any with characteristics that need protecting by law.
When it comes to looking at education and social provision, the need for nurseries and childcare during demolition and construction of the Estate and when families return to the Estate are two things that do not get a look in as they are screened out as not necessary.
Similarly, there is no assessment of the effect on young children and families, particularly those with protected characteristics, of significantly reducing access to open space for the 10 to 15 year period while construction takes place or any guarantee that the amount of play space required for residents of the new development will be provided, or where it will be.
But perhaps even more surprising, the majority of open space and play space in the NEW development will be in what are called PODIUM Gardens, which the design guidelines for the Estate say are normally on TOP of multi storey houses and which have access restricted to residents of that building. Isolation, Separation, Discrimination in provision and quality of facilities on different blocks and for different people is a distinct possibility when gardens are high up and accessible only to residents of that block. But the Equalities Impact Assessment of the proposed development does not consider these issues for people with protected characteristics or suffering socio-economic disadvantage at all
21 per cent of HOUSEHOLDS currently living on the Estate are people living in accommodation on a TEMPORARY basis
We aren't told how many people this represents, but many of the households may well be single and vulnerable women with young children, and the number of PEOPLE is probably much greater than 21%.
People in temporary accommodation have often survived traumatic situations and have greater vulnerability and need than other people. This has not been assessed.
The effect of moving people out of the estate to unknown destinations in order to facilitate redevelopment has also not been assessed. We don't know anything about who the temporary residents are and what their needs are and whether they have protected characteristics. This analysis simply isn't in the Equalities Impact Assessment of the Cambridge Road Estate planning application. We simply know that residents living in temporary accommodation will have to move, somewhere, at the council's discretion, when the council tells them to go.
Maybe the human cost of this development is so high that the Council and their consultants know that they cannot call it out if they want the development to go ahead.
But who will?