Kingston Council told to act fast in land swap deal that could secure north Kingston primary school

This Is Local London: Canbury Place car park, with the Kingsgate Centre in the background, could be the subject of a land swap deal Canbury Place car park, with the Kingsgate Centre in the background, could be the subject of a land swap deal

Kingston Council will need to act fast to salvage a land swap deal that would secure a desperately-needed primary school for north Kingston.

Opposition councillors have urged the authority to take up an offer from property developers Goldcrest for the Kingsgate Business Centre, in Kingsgate Road, just north of the train station.

The company is willing to trade the site for the council-owned Canbury Place car park, in order to build a mixed-use shop, restaurant and office development with 210-bed student accommodation.

The Kingsgate site is the preferred location for a new two-form primary school, with the triangular car park deemed unsuitable because of heavy traffic from Kingsgate Road, Sopwith Way and Richmond Road.

But the council has yet to agree to the swap, and Goldcrest has since submitted a planning application for the Kingsgate site, which does not include a school.

Conservative deputy leader Councillor David Cunningham said: “Goldcrest’s site would make an acceptable site for the school, and they are willing to do a land swap.

“But the administration hasn’t had the guts to do anything about it.

“As a result Goldcrest, who have waited patiently, have said they’re going to have to go ahead with the planning application.”

Councillors on the development control committee, mindful of the potential land swap, deferred a decision on Goldcrest’s application in March.

It is understood the company is now appealing on the grounds of non-determination.

But Kingston Council leader Councillor Liz Green said a deal could still be reached with Goldcrest.

She said: “It’s still an aim to get a primary school on that site.

“My understanding is that although Goldcrest are putting in an appeal for non-determination, that doesn’t mean they are not open to negotiations over a land swap.

“But we don’t want to just say yes to the land swap. It’s not that simple.

“We want to look at the whole site organically.”

Richmond Park and North Kingston Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith said: “Goldcrest are still willing to consider the swap, but time is not on our side and the council needs to prioritise this.

“We can still salvage this but it is now urgent.”

Comments (4)

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2:22pm Fri 11 Apr 14

reesmf says...

One week the Tories blame the Lib Dems for inventing a scare story over 70,000 new homes in Chessington and the following week they come up with their own. There must be an election coming. Clearly this is not urgent as the deal on the Goldcrest site is not sealed until after construction has started.
One week the Tories blame the Lib Dems for inventing a scare story over 70,000 new homes in Chessington and the following week they come up with their own. There must be an election coming. Clearly this is not urgent as the deal on the Goldcrest site is not sealed until after construction has started. reesmf
  • Score: 0

3:00pm Fri 11 Apr 14

captain_shamrock says...

4 weeks before the council elections, it's a case of too little too late for the Conservatives to gain any credibility on the schools front.

Can the Conservatives tell us exactly how many new, permanent school places did they refused to support in Kingston & Surbiton over the last 4 years?

When there was an even more desperate need for places 3 years ago, the Tories bitterly campaigned AGAINST the new Lime Tree school (420 places).

And the Tories still haven't changed their spots - they refused to support the very recent expansion ( & great new MUGA playing fields ) at Christ Church School, Surbiton (120 places ).

It's all in the council minutes, in black and white for local parents to read.

I recall Tory councillors running petitions AGAINST multiple school expansions in other parts of the borough.

An absolute disgrace that the Tories are now pretending to be on the side of parents. Do you really think parents are going to fall for your bare faced duplicity?

Kingston Tories had many years to support these new primary school places, but refused to do so. Instead, all across the borough they serially whipped up Nimby opposition to school expansion, and never came up with any credible alternatives to address the very real shortage of school places.

In admirable contrast, the Lib Dems steamed ahead, and deserve recognition for *real actual delivery* of *real actual school places*, not scaremongering petitions against them.

If I were the Lib Dem election co-ordinator, I'd launch a "Guess How Many School Places the Tories refused to support" competition and encourage every Kingston borough parent to enter.
4 weeks before the council elections, it's a case of too little too late for the Conservatives to gain any credibility on the schools front. Can the Conservatives tell us exactly how many new, permanent school places did they refused to support in Kingston & Surbiton over the last 4 years? When there was an even more desperate need for places 3 years ago, the Tories bitterly campaigned AGAINST the new Lime Tree school (420 places). And the Tories still haven't changed their spots - they refused to support the very recent expansion ( & great new MUGA playing fields ) at Christ Church School, Surbiton (120 places ). It's all in the council minutes, in black and white for local parents to read. I recall Tory councillors running petitions AGAINST multiple school expansions in other parts of the borough. An absolute disgrace that the Tories are now pretending to be on the side of parents. Do you really think parents are going to fall for your bare faced duplicity? Kingston Tories had many years to support these new primary school places, but refused to do so. Instead, all across the borough they serially whipped up Nimby opposition to school expansion, and never came up with any credible alternatives to address the very real shortage of school places. In admirable contrast, the Lib Dems steamed ahead, and deserve recognition for *real actual delivery* of *real actual school places*, not scaremongering petitions against them. If I were the Lib Dem election co-ordinator, I'd launch a "Guess How Many School Places the Tories refused to support" competition and encourage every Kingston borough parent to enter. captain_shamrock
  • Score: 6

3:02pm Fri 11 Apr 14

captain_shamrock says...

Now I've got that off my chest, I'll turn to the planning side. Kingston council prepared an excellent development brief ( http://goo.gl/DAQF3k ) for the gasworks site as a whole. It has a school and a new right of way that could be a segregated cycle route, or future tram route. It's very much a joined up plan for the whole site.

Berkeley's plans for the gasworks site are rubbish, don't fit with the development brief for the site as a whole and fall well short of what Kingston needs. Their plans are reminiscent of Soviet style architecture, with vast flanks of apartments on all sides, and token open space only visible by and for apartment residents.

I don't think Goldcrest's proposed site for the primary school is the best location in the site. I think a site on the Sury Basin side would be quieter.

The council are right to take a holistic approach to the site, and concentrate on *getting it right* rather than be pushed into a hurried deal. A decision made in haste is seldom a good one.

.
Now I've got that off my chest, I'll turn to the planning side. Kingston council prepared an excellent development brief ( http://goo.gl/DAQF3k ) for the gasworks site as a whole. It has a school and a new right of way that could be a segregated cycle route, or future tram route. It's very much a joined up plan for the whole site. Berkeley's plans for the gasworks site are rubbish, don't fit with the development brief for the site as a whole and fall well short of what Kingston needs. Their plans are reminiscent of Soviet style architecture, with vast flanks of apartments on all sides, and token open space only visible by and for apartment residents. I don't think Goldcrest's proposed site for the primary school is the best location in the site. I think a site on the Sury Basin side would be quieter. The council are right to take a holistic approach to the site, and concentrate on *getting it right* rather than be pushed into a hurried deal. A decision made in haste is seldom a good one. . captain_shamrock
  • Score: 4

3:07pm Fri 11 Apr 14

captain_shamrock says...

We're all aware that Conservative Michael Gove stripped local councils of their previous powers to open new schools. The council are powerless to open new schools, and all new schools now have to be free schools, typically opened by private companies or religious groups.

With the high value of land in these parts, it's no surprise that Conservative / Gove's ideology of blind trust in the market hasn't yet delivered a single primary school place here in Kingston.

Given this ideological stranglehold, does anybody know if the council still have the legal right to compulsorily purchase land when there's a real need for school places, but no publicly owned suitable site is available?

They certainly used to have before Gove came to power. It strikes me that these powers could and should be used here if the developers won't play ball. I imagine that any compulsory purchase would be valued against the current use of the land, as opposed to it's inflated value when we ( the public ) grant permission to these developers.

.
We're all aware that Conservative Michael Gove stripped local councils of their previous powers to open new schools. The council are powerless to open new schools, and all new schools now have to be free schools, typically opened by private companies or religious groups. With the high value of land in these parts, it's no surprise that Conservative / Gove's ideology of blind trust in the market hasn't yet delivered a single primary school place here in Kingston. Given this ideological stranglehold, does anybody know if the council still have the legal right to compulsorily purchase land when there's a real need for school places, but no publicly owned suitable site is available? They certainly used to have before Gove came to power. It strikes me that these powers could and should be used here if the developers won't play ball. I imagine that any compulsory purchase would be valued against the current use of the land, as opposed to it's inflated value when we ( the public ) grant permission to these developers. . captain_shamrock
  • Score: 3

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