Who deserves your vote on 6 May? The facts.
Who will you hold responsible for Kingston and London’s demise?
As residents of London and The Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames go to vote tomorrow, firstly for a single councillor in Chessington, secondly for the London Mayor and thirdly for London Assembly members, we should all question who is responsible for the mass over-development and gentrification of Kingston, and of areas across London, that is now starting to gather pace
I will stick to facts about Kingston but they apply across London
In 2016, the Conservative-led administration in Kingston, headed by Kevin Davis and David Cunningham - both from Wards that are now being spared the effects of mass over-development - worked with the then Tory Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to rush through a document, the “Kingston Direction of Travel” that has been used to establish both an “opportunity area” for large-scale growth across the Borough and to establish huge large-site targets for Kingston in the new London Plan
The Liberal Democrats in Kingston swore in their election manifesto to oppose this growth strategy but have instead forced it through and have even just voted to change the council Constitution to prevent resident opposition to the plans. They are selling off the main council offices and forging ahead with plans to gentrify the Borough's largest council estate
Critically, neither the Kingston Tory administration nor the current Liberal Democrat administration has conducted an environmental impact or equalities impact assessment of the massive growth that is now coming forward across the Borough, despite this being a legal requirement for such a massive increase in planned development
In the heart of ancient Kingston Town, Unilever is planning to build a massive headquarters complex, two more high rise complexes have already been approved, and the Council is pushing through the redevelopment of the Borough’s largest housing estate mainly for private sale with multiple tower blocks and a tripling of the number of flats to over 2000 on a site with high pollution levels and low transport accessibility and access to green space. Another massive high-rise development, at 17 storeys high is coming forward on a small car park site between Richmond Park and the River Thames. And the council has closed the local Kingston swimming pool and is planning to build some more high-rise blocks on that site and the site of the Old Cattle Market, one of the last remaining open spaces in Kingston Town
Meanwhile, low-rise, suburban Tolworth has been told it is urban and is being developed as a cityscape on the A3 and the golf course at Chessington and the valley of the rare Hogsmill chalk stream have been earmarked for large-scale development on some of the few green spaces remaining in Kingston
The Mayor of London, who is currently Sadiq Khan, has no interest or concern for the decisions that Kingston Council makes or how they affect residents and the environment, despite the fact that those decisions have arisen from the London Plan and targets that successive Tory and Labour Mayors have agreed with the Council.
So, a Tory then a Labour Mayor of London and a Tory then a Liberal Democrat Council in Kingston have supported growth on an unprecedented scale in Kingston
But what about The Green Party?
The Green Party has never stated any official opposition to the Mayor of London’s or Kingston Council’s growth plans, either on a national, London-wide or local basis
TheGreen Party never offered any support to my legal campaign to try and stop the new London Plan and has not taken any council decisions to judicial review on environmental grounds
Kingston Council has a legal requirement to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment of its 2019 Transport Strategy, known as a “Local Implementation Plan 3” – a process that is also part of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy and overseen by the Mayor of London
But the council has not fulfilled its legal requirements and the Green Party could have challenged this failure. They have not.
Below is an extract from Annex Z to the Mayor of London’s Decision Notice to Publish the London Plan (“Matters Raised by a Resident in relation to the London Plan") in which the Mayor laid out his detailed responses to my correspondence supporting a possible legal challenge of the London Plan
The ultimate nail in the coffin for Kingston is that the Mayor of London says below that Kingston Council will do an Environmental Assessment of its growth plans when it does its Local Plan, which will be AFTER most if not all of the large-site developments planned for the Borough will have been approved because – strangely enough – Kingston Council has delayed doing the Local Plan while all the big development proposals are coming forward.
There is no doubt that we are witnessing the destruction of The Royal Borough of Kingston-upon- Thames and that vast areas of our neighbourhoods and communities across London are being affected by undemocratically agreed and unsound growth plans