• CarolineShah

Tories and LibDems support unsustainable population explosion in Richmond Park and Kingston

Updated: Dec 2, 2019

Why have the MPs for Richmond and Kingston failed to scutinise these flawed plans?

1. The Facts and 2. The Truth post the Inspectors’ Report on the new London Plan

1. The Facts

Kingston’s existing housing target, agreed in the 2015 London Plan, at 643 units a year, is TWICE the level of that of Richmond, and 1.8 times that of Sutton. Much of this development is planned for Canbury Ward, Richmond Park and Kingston Town

Kingston’s new MINIMUM housing target, if the recommendations of the Inspectors of the London Plan (“the Inspectors”) are accepted by the Mayor of London, is now set to rise to 964 units a year, the majority of which are on LARGE SITES within so-called “opportunity” areas

These targets are subject to massive multiplication over the 22 years of the London Plan. Look already at the current proposal for a 25-storey tower and other massive tower blocks on Canbury Place Car Park, despite the fact there is a covenant “limiting” development to 12 storeys on this site; consider what developers might propose next for the Canbury Business Park redevelopment and for “regeneration” on large sites all over the Borough

The massive pre-determined over-development of Kingston will affect not just Kingston's residents

What is happening to Kingston simply marks the beginning of the destruction of this precious part of South West London

What will happen next is anybody's guess

People in Hampton Wick and Ham will be directly affected by high-rise, large-scale development in Kingston

The explosion in Kingston town's resident and working population will put huge pressure on already over-congested transport and road infrastructure and on struggling schools and support services for the vulnerable amongst us

And a 70% increase in Kingston's population will mean 132,000 more people visiting Richmond Park, our National Nature Reserve

If these extra people visit the park JUST once a week over a year, that will mean an extra 6.9 million visitors to the park. Its fragile ecosystem will NOT survive

You might well ask how this can be the case if the Inspectors reduced housing targets in the London Plan

But they reduced targets ONLY on small sites

They reduced targets equally for all London Boroughs because the targets were not realistic and could not be enforced

The fact that Richmond and Sutton currently have very small large site development targets means that Royal Kingston’s MINIMUM 10 year total housing target has now risen to 2.4 times that of Richmond (from 1.7 times) and 2.1 times that of Sutton (from 1.5 times)

This is despite the poor transport infrastructure that exists in Kingston: “Kingston has no London Underground stations, no London Overground stations, no CrossRail stations, no CrossRail 2 stations and no London tramlink stops….but would potentially benefit from CrossRail 2”[i]

Royal Kingston’s LARGE SITE housing targets start off 4.2 times bigger than those of Richmond and 3.7 times bigger than those of Sutton

These targets will SOAR if CrossRail 2 is ever agreed, despite the fact that CrossRail 2 is forecast only to take over-crowding back to 2011 levels: "CR2 simply returns the network back to 2011 levels of passenger congestion (rather than providing any significant step improvement" [ii].

Richmond town, of course, already has much better transport infrastructure than Kingston, but has thankfully currently been spared from these gross over-development plans. Perhaps it is only a question of time...

Kingston Council has already agreed with the Greater London Authority (the “GLA”) that the large sites put forward in the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment 2017 (the “SHLAA”) are able to deliver an additional 16,309 housing units on top of currently agreed targets if CrossRail2 comes to the Borough

Kingston’s massive large site housing and employment targets have arisen directly from the fact that Kingston Council put forward many possible large sites to the GLA in 2017 to establish the Borough’s development targets from 2019 to 2041 for the new London Plan as part of the SHLAA and assigned heavily raised densities to these sites

No council administration has provided reasoned justification for these targets or the process by which they were agreed

Kingston’s large sites, especially within any “opportunity” area, will also be subject to large-scale office and commercial development

Kingston council agreed in the SHLAA that our Royal Borough can cater for the equivalent of 36,000 one-bedroom flats in commercial office space throughout the Borough

Taking the absolute MINIMUM level of annual development expected in Royal Kingston over the next 10 years (before increases to do with the “opportunity” areas or with CrossRail 2), we can expect to see a MINIMUM of 2.5 times the amount of new build across the Borough than the average of 394 new homes a year that occurred in the period 2006-2017 [iii]. The reality will be many times that number

2. The Truth

None of Kingston or Richmond Park and North Kingston’s MPs has stood up to protect our Royal Borough or to scrutinise decision-making and the lack of soundness of the democratic process as the Council has agreed to a massive development programme that will dramatically change and affect Kingston and surrounding areas

And yet North Kingston MP, Zac Goldsmith, was elected Minister of State for the Environment by Boris Johnson and Sir Ed Davey stood for the position of Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Our MPs can not be relied upon to help protect the environment in the Boroughs where they were elected

How can we trust them to protect the environment in the country as a whole?

It is ONLY because Kingston Council put forward so many large sites for development across the Borough that they were able to work with the GLA for Kingston to become an “opportunity” area

Neither Kingston Council’s Conservative or Liberal Democrat administration has ever lobbied against Royal Kingston’s massive large site targets. OA status means massive development at densities much higher than on similar sites outside of OAs, and precedent shows that OA housing and employment targets end up being the MINIMUM amount of development on those sites

The implications on communities, neighbourhoods and the natural and historic environment in Royal Kingston and beyond of this scale of development on a cumulative basis of all proposed development have been completely overlooked

Additional development to which Kingston Council has agreed if CrossRail 2 is extended to the Borough will mean even denser and taller buildings and development on the Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land as “exceptional” or “very special” circumstances

The Inspectors in their report use the example of Sutton to justify their recommendation that small sites housing development targets should be reduced. They argue in point 161 that 79% of the overall target (for Sutton) is attributable to small sites. The reduction in figures means that Sutton will actually now only be expected to deliver 43 units more than Kingston each year on small sites

In contrast, the Inspectors were happy to leave Royal Kingston's massive MINIMUM large sites housing targets untouched at 739 units a year, in comparison with Richmond's large site target of 177 units and Suttons of 201 units. Large site development targets in Royal Kingston now make up 77% of our total annual housing target, a percentage which will soar with CrossRail 2 and as significantly raised densities occur across the Borough’s “opportunity” areas

Meanwhile, the huge scale of commercial and office development planned across Royal Kingston will mean that Kingston & Surbiton and Richmond Park become dominated by dense, high-rise large-site development


[i] M20 - South London Boroughs Response to Examination in Public Panel Questions 14/12/18

[ii] Kingston Transport Forecasting Report 2018 prepared by TfL

[iii] M19 - South London Boroughs Response to Examination in Public Panel Questions

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