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Station Car Park

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We have put out this communication to local press and residents:-

Surbiton Hill Councillors demand residents are fully consulted on plans to build 250 Homes on Surbiton Station Carpark
Surbiton Hill councillors, Nick Kilby, Paul Johnston and Janet Bowen-Hitchens, have been informed that Bewley Homes and Network Rail are drawing up plans to redevelop the station carpark in Surbiton.
Councillors first heard the rumour from a local retailer, and then asked the neighbourhood planning officer if the rumour was true and were informed that discussions have been taking place. They have now heard that secret consultation meetings have taken place with rail users but none are planned by the Developers beyond the consultation legally required.
The ward councillors are now so concerned that the developers, Bewley homes and Network Rail are not going to ask residents opinions until the statutory consultation period, that they have written this weekend letters to all residents, with questionnaires, asking residents to tell them what information they would like from developers. In addition they have set up an information page on their ward blog and undertaken to ensure residents are kept informed and represented.
Councillor Nick Kilby commented “It is extremely disappointing that such a large scheme will not be using accepted best practices for community consultation. Therefore, as ward councillors, we have decided to set up an information service.”
As councillors we cannot and will not declare our own views until the time when the proposals come to the Surbiton neighbourhood but as ward councillors it would be remiss of us not to make sure residents are briefed properly. The developers should give everyone the opportunity to consider the implications of their plans. Residents’ voices should be heard before plans are submitted, their concerns should be addressed before this is heard by the Neighbourhood planning committee and finally the Development Control committee at The Guildhall.
We will keep residents posted and will raise the issues they have with the developers in the months to come. In the meantime with Cllrs Paul Johnston and Janet Bowen-Hitchin, we have written to both Network Rail and Bewley Homes asking them to meet us and to undertake full consultation of residents in South Bank, Glenbuck, Arlington roads and the whole of the Oak Hill area before submitting any plans formally to the Council.”
15 Comments leave one →
  1. Nigel permalink
    August 27, 2008 9:34 am

    Of course it would be nice if the developer pre-consulted with residents and businesses but it is not a legal requirement and interested parties will have plenty of opportunity to make their views known if and when the application is submitted.

    More importantly is to ensure that planning officers send a clear message what is desired for the site – and that our councillors in turn do the same when they consider the proposals and make a decision. All too often in the borough we see the result of cuddly “consultation” and too much interference by councillors to score petty points by attacking any development for the sake of it depending on which way the wind blows. And it’s no good blaming the planning inspector for all these ugly, ill-thought out and inhuman buildings because it should never be necessary for a developer to go this far. Our greatest buildings were never approved by the planning inspector.

    By the way, the suggestion to access the station car park from St Andrews Road is not a new one – but please note it would have be an underpass UNDER the railway line and not a bridge over it, given the ground levels.

  2. August 27, 2008 6:30 pm

    According to your taste in architecture, you could say that our greatest buildings were constructed long before planning inspectors were even dreamt of.

    Your point about the station access from St. Andrew’s Rd is well made in part. I do recall hearing it first when the idea of building affordable homes on the station car park was first suggested during the UDP adoption process, round about 2003. I should have thought the cost of tunnelling under the railway would be prohibitive, though.

    My experience of Surbiton councillors, on the whole, has been that they have modified or prevented ‘ugly, ill-though out and inhuman buildings’ rather than otherwise. In any event we have to operate within strict planning law. We don’t get many of our decisions overturned on appeal.

  3. Nigel permalink
    August 28, 2008 12:07 pm

    Yes, the planning inspector has a lot to answer for – but then again, how many of our greatest buildings would have received planning approval if they had been proposed today – not many that’s for sure.

    It is a shame that the moment a large development (or one with very small units) is proposed, there is always a big hoo ha (apologies for slang), increasing developers costs, leaving the site derelict for years to come and with the result of a pretty empty “victory”.

    No wonder developers do not take the time and effort sometimes to propose something better in the first place like they do in other boroughs – perhaps it’s about time we courted them more rather treating them like pariahs?

  4. Bridget permalink
    September 11, 2008 11:14 pm

    It is a shame that developers in Surbiton seem to only plan for the most profit by building the most units crammed into small spaces (when surbiton needs family houses not flats) without a care about the existing neighbourhood. I am grateful when councillors support the residents who at the moment are getting a rough deal with over development of small sites and back gardens. Nigel are you a developer by any chance?

  5. Paul permalink
    September 12, 2008 4:49 pm

    ward councillor,

    re “Surbiton councillors, on the whole, has been that they have modified or prevented ‘ugly, ill-though out and inhuman buildings’”

    What about this monstrosity – did it slip through unnoticed?

    The Surbiton Plaza, whilst not ugly, is simply too big and is overbearing alongside the original cottages. It doesn’t add anything to the town.

    You could also do more to enhance the Victorian character of Victoria Road. Stop allowing tacky modern frontage and plastic signage for starters. Take a bus out to the likes of Teddington or Richmond to see what an attractive Victorian town centre can look like with a little effort and stricter guidelines.

    You could also start enforcing the existing policy on non-shop premsies. The current trend is for shops to be converted to restaurant / cafe / takeaway usage. It guarantees the demise of Surbiton as a proper town centre.

    I also remember that councillors capitulated shamefully by allowing the demolition of a landmark building at the Rising Sun site, and will probably eventually do the same at the Red Lion.

    The quality of replacement architecture is usually a long way short of what it replaces, and is also way behind modern designs elsewhere. I walk through More London every day and the quality of modern architecture there is streets ahead of anything in our borough.

    I am dismayed that planners are happy with bland “identikit” apartment designs at the garage in The Avenue, and the old showroom on King Charles Road. In both instances, there has been no attempt to fit in with the surrounding attractive victorian streetscapes, yet the planners raise no concerns about the designs chosen.

    If councillors don’t pull their socks up and demand higher quality architecture, Surbiton may well end up losing its distinctive attractive character, and just start looking like every other bland suburb.

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