Residents' anger as Cambridge Road estate student flats scheme is approved (From This Is Local London)
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Residents' anger as Cambridge Road estate student flats scheme is approved
Norbiton residents were left furious after plans to build a five and six storey student accommodation block on the Cambridge Road estate were voted through last night.
Members of Kingston Council's development control committee approved an application for a 272-room block of flats with roof terrace and retail unit on the former Duke of York pub and the current site of Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
Applicants AK II Property Investment’s proposal succeeded two months after the committee rejected a different plan for a six and seven storey, 300-room block on the same site.
But there was further controversy when committee chair Vicki Harris called for a vote on the proposal - even though councillors looked set to approve an amendment that would have heavily restricted student access to the roof terrace.
The committee heard objections from Cambridge Road Estates Residents' Association secretary Ray Brown and ward councillor David Ryder-Mills.
Mr Brown described applicant AK II Property Investment’s building as a “grossly oversized eyesore”, and said: “The developers think all they have to do is drop a floor and the proposal will be waved through.”
Coun Ryder-Mills, who initially supported a larger development before agreeing with residents that the proposal on offer was too large, said: “Five storeys was the top limit, not five and six.
“We would have accommodated 200 students. We would consider 200 a reasonable compromise – but we haven’t got that reasonable compromise.”
But architect Peter Rutter told the committee: “There is a need for this scheme.
“There isn’t any student accommodation of this type in Norbiton.
“We have reduced it by one metre and I commend it to you.”
Estate residents hoping for support from the committee were left disappointed when councillors said the scheme was vastly improved from June’s application for 300 students.
But there was confusion when councillor David Cunningham suggested an amendment that would have restricted access to the roof except in emergencies.
Only two councillors - Malcolm Self and Richard Hudson - opposed the amendment, while Chrissie Hitchcock proposed limiting the access according to the seasons.
But the amendment never came to pass when chair Vicki Harris called for members to vote on the application as it was presented first.
Coun Cunningham pointed out that if the vote on the unamended scheme was taken first there would be now opportunity to vote on his proposal.
But the vote went ahead – with coun Harris even voting against the scheme in the belief she would then have the opportunity to vote in favour of coun Cunningham’s suggestion.
The application was approved seven votes to two - and estate residents stormed out of the Guildhall in disgust.
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