The sacrifice of Royal Kingston unearthed
Updated: May 1, 2019
Kingston Council has agreed with the Mayor that our Borough will undertake massive large site development throughout the Borough
The council approved the principle for development on a massive scale in 2016 in the opaque, confusing and undemocratically agreed "Direction of Travel" document and the council went on to agree large site housing targets behind closed doors with the Mayor as part of the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment 2017 (SHLAA)
Large site development currently accounts for 54% of our ten year 13,640 London Plan housing target
Expected development on large sites will soar even higher as soon as we become an "opportunity area" as development in opportunity areas occurs at much higher densities than elsewhere
The remainder of our development target is on small sites. Small site development can only happen on an opportunistic basis if small land owners decide to sell their homes for redevelopment within 800m of a station. The majority of London Boroughs, including Richmond, Kingston, Merton and Sutton (the "Partner Boroughs") in their joint statements to the Examination in Public of the London Plan (EiP) M19 and M20 - which you can see on this website - say the small sites targets are too high and can and will not be realised. But they support large scale development, the majority of which is planned in Kingston
"The Partner Boroughs do not support the development capacity set out in the SHLAA 2017 (NLP/HOU/002) due to its reliance on the delivery of small sites to meet the overall targets. As a result the overall borough housing targets in the draft London Plan are not justified, not effective, not consistent with national policy and, therefore, not sound.
1.2 The Partner Boroughs do not have fundamental concerns with the approach to large sites in the SHLAA as these were discussed in detail with the GLA, including the methodology and individual sites, and are supportive of this collaboration. As such it is considered the assumptions and analysis of site suitability, availability and achievability, and development capacities for large sites, are ambitious but based on reasonable and realistic assumptions."
Partner Boroughs submission to EiP M19 - Housing Targets
This will mean that Kingston Borough, which has already agreed development on large numbers of large sites, will end up delivering housing and jobs on those sites at even higher densities to compensate for housing that has not been built in surrounding boroughs eg Richmond
And remember that our own base housing target for the whole 22 year London Plan is already a massive 30,008 homes
Am I cynical, perhaps, or a conspiracy theorist? I think not
The vast majority of Richmond's housing target, for example, is on small sites. The Mayor has now said that conservation areas are exempt from the small site development policies which happens to be good for Richmond as Richmond Council has already expanded existing conservation areas and designated new ones over the last couple of years
In the M19 submission on Small Sites to the Examiner in Public of the London Plan, you can read the Partner Boroughs' arguments against small site development and how they are arguing that small site development would be more effectively delivered on large sites. Where? Kingston?:
"Point 1.18: Table 2 below shows that total of 26,680 net additional dwellings are required from small sites in the Partner Boroughs over the ten-year housing target period. This means that just 18 large site schemes, as defined in the above review, would deliver the same number of homes as the small sites target. As discussed above if larger site schemes can reduce the homogeneity of homes, and speed up build out rates as a result, it is reasonable to expect more to come forward. This will offset the unrealistic expectations placed on small sites." Partner Boroughs M19 to EiP
But it does not stop there
Kingston council has not told us is that the massive development the Borough is likely to see does not assume any improvement in transport infrastructure at all within the Borough, GoCycle route apart. It is all based on the premise that Cross Rail 2 (CR2) does not happen
We could see 75,000 or more extra people living in the Borough with the same train service as we see now. The Kingston Transport Study 2018 shows how much over-crowding will worsen in this situation, particularly on services from Surbiton
But that's still not the worst of it
As long as plans for Crossrail 2 remain in place, developers will start preparing to build a further minimum 16,309 homes on the same large sites that Kingston council has already "discussed in detail" with the GLA as potential development sites and which now make up our large site development target in the draft London Plan
And that's even before Crossrail 2 arrives
And the Kingston Transport Study shows that Crossrail 2 will only alleviate crowding if significant numbers of people are travelling out of London for work. Does this mean massive development is planned in Chessington? It is not clear
And then there's provision for jobs - how many extra jobs will we be expected to provide for, over and above the 47,000 jobs already mentioned in the Kingston Transport Study 2018?
When was our council planning to come clean about our housing targets and Crossrail 2?
Is this the biggest ever stitch up of the Royal Borough and its residents?
No consultation and no transparency
We can only now rely on the Inspectors of the EiP to call in the situation for what it is and to stop these undemocratic plans