Plans revealed to turn ex-student halls into homes

By Charlotte Lillywhite - Local Democracy Reporter

30th Nov 2023 | Local News

CGI of the proposed redevelopment of Kingston Bridge House in Hampton Wick. (Photo Credit:CGI of the proposed redevelopment of Kingston Bridge House in Hampton Wick. Credit: Westcombe Group/Fluent Architectural Design Services Ltd, provided in Richmond Council documents ).
CGI of the proposed redevelopment of Kingston Bridge House in Hampton Wick. (Photo Credit:CGI of the proposed redevelopment of Kingston Bridge House in Hampton Wick. Credit: Westcombe Group/Fluent Architectural Design Services Ltd, provided in Richmond Council documents ).

South West Londoners have thrown their support behind plans to turn "ugly" empty former student halls into 70 flats.

The scheme would see the transformation of Kingston Bridge House in Hampton Wick, which was let to students from 1994 before the building was sold in early 2021 and replaced by new university premises in Kingston town centre.

The scheme from Westcombe Developments would see the building on Church Grove, which reaches up to seven storeys, converted into 70 new homes – including four that would be offered at social rent.

The development would have 21 car parking spaces.

Documents submitted with the application said the building's concrete cladding would be removed as it is "unsafe from a fire perspective".

They said the building is in "poor condition" and the delivery of new homes would meet a greater need in the borough.

A letter signed by 53 residents said the scheme would deliver new homes in an empty building that is "unattractive and does not meet modern standards".

Another angle of the proposed development. (Photo Credit: Westcombe Group/Fluent Architectural Design Services Ltd, provided in Richmond Council documents).

It added: "Refurbishment and repurposing of the building is a sustainable approach and will have less impact on local residents than a demolition and rebuild."

In comments added to the letter, one resident said they supported the application "because people need new homes", while another said "creating more new homes will help the local businesses".

Another supporter wrote the revamped building "has to look better than the ugly block it is now". 

A fourth added: "I feel that it's incredibly important that it is revitalised into something useful, such as housing."

The scheme also received 12 objections, particularly over its design and potential impact on traffic levels.

One objector argued the development would be "completely out of context with nearby buildings" and "not in keeping with the village of Hampton Wick".

Another raised concerns it would increase traffic and congestion at an "already extremely busy junction".

But Richmond Council officers recommended approval of the scheme after concluding it would bring about "considerable improvement to [the] external appearance of the building with an upgrade in the quality, texture and colour of the exterior facades without an increase in mass or height".

A report by officers said the building is no longer safe and described its existing materials as of an "insufficient standard".

It said the new materials would "better complement the surrounding heritage assets".

The report argued the scheme would not worsen air quality and would promote sustainable travel as all car parking spaces would have electric vehicle charge points, while the scheme includes 160 cycle parking spaces and residents of the new homes would not be able to buy parking permits.

It added the level of affordable housing proposed by the scheme fell far below policy aims, but that the site had been "independently viability tested and does deliver the maximum viable amount of affordable housing".

The council's planning committee will make a decision on the application on December 6.

     

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