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  • CarolineShah

Fire and Safety Risk as Kingston turns High Rise

Four and a half years since Grenfell but no lessons learned in Kingston

On 21 December, officers of Kingston Council recommend that the council's Planning Committee approve the planning application to demolish 834 residential units on Kingston's Cambridge Road Estate and to replace them with a whopping 2100 units in many high rise towers

Last week, Kingston council officers recommended demolition of The Regent's Wing of Kingston hospital and replacement of the building with a tall tower full of flats for elderly people with care

Meanwhile, consultation has closed on plans to build multiple towers, including one tower of 23 storeys on Kingston's Canbury Place Car Park, a small infill car park in Canbury Ward near Kingston Town Centre

What do all these planning applications have in common?

All three planning applications appear to breach post-Grenfell policies introduced in to The London Plan to protect residents living in large new developments, and particularly in towers, from the risk of death by fire

You can read how these planning applications do not meet fire safety and security policy requirements here

I have summarised some key points below:

Failure One: Evacuation Fire Points

All three Kingston planning applications appear not to meet the requirement of Policy D12 A 1 (b) of the London Plan which states that the developer must identify “suitably positioned unobstructed outside space appropriate for use as an evacuation fire point”.

Failure Two: Fire Statements

In the case of The Cambridge Road Estate, The Fire Statement shows fire brigade access to buildings that are subject to full planning approval only AFTER the remainder of the estate has been built as does the Gateway One Fire Statement. However, Buildings B, C and E are the first buildings to be erected on the site and it seems that access will be needed by the Fire Brigade and emergency services who may not be able to use the routes shown on the diagram while the rest of the estate is being demolished and rebuilt and for which outline permission is currently sought

The Canbury Place Car Park planning application shows a lack of regard to the requirement for the “identification of suitably positioned unobstructed outside space” as an evacuation assembly point (A1b and 3.12.4).

In the case of proposals to demolish and rebuild the Regent's Wing of Kingston Hospital, the planning application recommended for approval by officers simply contained NO Fire Statement. The Planning Committee was asked to delegate responsibility for conforming with requirements about fire safety to unelected, unnamed and unaccountable officers of the council

No Fire Statement and no protection from fire agreed by elected representatives for a proposal to build a tower block for old people in need of care

Failure Three: Fire Safety and Security - consultation with Met Police, London Fire Brigade and London Fire Commissioner

In not one of the planning applications does it appear that fire safety and security have been considered in conjunction with one another, as required by The London Plan.

Early consultation between the London Fire Brigade and the Metropolitan Police also does not appear to have occurred

There is no evidence that The London Fire Commissioner has been consulted either on the design of the Cambridge Road Estate or on the implications of the phased demolition and construction process for fire safety or that the Met Police has been consulted on security and crime measures as required in D11 3.11.4

The Gateway One Fire Statement that accompanies the planning application states that “Consultation with the approving authorities has NOT been undertaken for Building C"

In neither of the planning applications for the Canbury Place Car Park or the Regent's Wing of Kingston Hospital is there evidence that The London Fire Commissioner was consulted early in the design process for this proposed development or that the Met Police has been consulted on security and crime measures as required by policy

Failure Four: District Ward Offices for Met Police needed in major developments

None of the planning applications make provision for developer or other funding for District Ward Offices for the Met Police. The Met made clear in their response to the 2019 Regulation 18 Consultation on Kingston Council's Local Plan that all major developments need to include a DWO in order to keep residents safe and to reduce the fear of crime and sought reassurance that:

"in schemes referable to the Mayor the MPS will liaise with developers to arrange potential on site delivery of a DWO"

You can read the Met Police's outspoken response here

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