Kingston campus plan 'visually harmful for Richmond', council says

By The Editor

26th Mar 2021 | Local News

Artistic impression of the Eden Campus
Artistic impression of the Eden Campus

The council has objected to plans for the Eden Campus development in Kingston's town centre.

The development would see consumer giant Unilever move offices across London and Surrey into a new headquarters in the borough.

Planning documents for the development, due to be discussed at next week's Development Control Committee (March 31) reveal that Richmond Council opposes the "height and scale" of the plans for the new development, as well as the "design and use of reflective materials."

It says: "The proposed building would markedly break the skyline and rise considerably above the height of other buildings in important landscape views (some of which are designated heritage assets)."

It adds that the plan "is considered to be visually intrusive and harmful to key areas of landscape and designated heritage assets within the London Borough of Richmond" contrary to National Planning Policy Framework.

The plans would see office buildings and residential towers up to 16 storeys on the Surrey House and Lever House sites in the town centre.

The residential tower was originally due to be 22 storeys, but was reduced after consultation with council officers.

Likewise, previous plans did not include any affordable housing.

But the latest documents say that "following detailed negotiations with officers", 35 per cent of the development as measured by habitable rooms will now be affordable.

Of the 115 homes proposed, 20 will be at social rent and 16 homes will be shared ownership.

This is still below Kingston Council's policy to require developments with 10 or more units to have 50 per cent of homes classed as affordable.

But council officers have concluded that 35 per cent "would represent the maximum reasonable amount of affordable housing that could be achieved".

Save Britain's Heritage, The Victorian Society, and The Kingston Upon Thames Society also objected to the application, raising concerns about the scale and massing of the proposals, which they said were "excessive" for the location and would "damage" the settings of several heritage assets, such as the listed Post Office and United Reform Church.

Unilever's move seems to be the main attraction of the application, with positive comments from Kingston University, Kingston First, and the borough's chamber of commerce, citing more job opportunities and increased footfall into the town centre.

Officers have recommended that councillors permit the development at next week's meeting.


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