Kingston skyline could change forever as council plans to build new tower blocks emerge

By Charlotte Lillywhite - Local Democracy Reporter

1st Dec 2022 | Local News

A South London skyline could change forever as a council plans to build more tower blocks in the town centre. Kingston Council revealed hundreds of new flats in tall buildings could come to the borough over the next 10 years in new documents.

Several central sites have been earmarked for major revamps in a draft of the authority's new local plan, which will shape development in Kingston for the next 20 years when finalised.

The council said the borough needs more affordable homes and properties that cater for different needs. There are around 3,500 households on the council's waiting list, and the authority has a target of 9,640 new homes for the borough between 2019 and 2029.

The draft plan says well-designed tower blocks in appropriate places can "play an important role in delivering good development". It adds that Kingston's skyline "will continue to evolve over time" but that its "distinctiveness and character" should be protected.

The plans heavily involve revamping car parks in the town – including 194 homes on two Bentall Centre car parks, 110 homes on Bittoms car park and 155 homes on Ashdown car park, all up to 11 storeys tall. The storeys are estimates based on the proposed maximum heights of the buildings in metres. The building types suggested for the homes include tower blocks along with other types of block and terraces.

Other potential tall buildings include 78 homes in a block up to 10 storeys tall earmarked for the Cattle Market car park and Fairfield Bus Station site, 76 homes on Thames Side Wharf up to 11 storeys and 58 homes up to six storeys on the Malthouse and River Reach site on the high street. These are all planned for the next decade.

The document says: "To ensure tall buildings are suitably sited and well designed, they must enhance the boroughs skyline and help people to navigate through it by providing reference points and emphasising the hierarchy of places."

It adds: "Careful consideration will need to be taken with proposals for tall buildings given their visual prominence and range of potential impacts on the townscape, skyline, local neighbourhood and wider area."

Controversial plans to turn Kingston's iconic tallest building into homes are already being considered by the council. The empty 22-storey Tolworth Tower would be kept and two tower blocks built next to it – at 15 and 19 storeys tall – to create up to 500 homes on the site.

The local plan has been in the pipeline since 2019 and is out now for consultation, which will run until February 28, 2023.

The council will consider feedback to finalise the local plan for adoption by late 2023. It will replace the authority's core strategy and last until 2041. The plan will be used to decide whether to approve or refuse planning applications in the borough.


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