Members of the Kingston Council have criticised plans to turn a former health centre on Hawks Road into a 13-storey block of flats.
The plans have not been submitted to the council. The plans are only proposals at this stage.
Developer London Square said that it would propose that the block would produce about 123 new homes. They also said that they are committed to having 50 per cent of the homes at affordable levels and will have one, two and three-bedroom flats with 220 cycle spaces for the residents.
Some Kingston Council members said that they are opposed to London Square’s plans saying that they are “disappointing” and that the building lacked “sensitivity”.
“What we have been doing with the Cambridge Road estate redevelopment is to have make sure the building heights taper and placing the tallest buildings in the centre away from the smaller two-storey Victorian buildings that are on the road so that they are not overshadowed,” said Liberal Democrat councillor Emily Davey. “London Square’s proposal does not have that sensitivity for the area, being way too dense with no taper.”
Davey also said that the plan’s private ownership was a negative point of the proposal.
“The idea of separating social owners and private owners is unfair and it is socially divisive,” she said. “A balanced community makes for a healthy community.”
The health centre was used as a temporary vaccine clinic, but was deemed by the NHS as “surplus” and has been otherwise empty since early 2020. Davey said that the council tried to buy the building, but the NHS had other plans.
“We tried and tried and tried but it just was not possible to buy the clinic,” she said. “When we realized buying the clinic was not possible, we encouraged the NHS to market it in the public sector, but they felt like they could get more money out of putting it on the open market instead.”
Conservative Councillor Ian George said that the Kingston Council failed in not being able to buy the clinic.
“Unfortunately, Kingston Council failed to buy the NHS Clinic site to redevelop on behalf of local residents,” he said. “The large developer has got the impression from the council that they can successfully overdevelop the site and the Lib-Dem run Kingston Council should be much more proactive in letting it be known what the limits are for such sites, which should be included in the much-delayed Local Plan.”
George also said that the building’s density would cause a problem for the area’s outdoor space.
“There will be an extremely high number of people living in a small area which is far from ideal, especially with Kingston Council allowing building on local playgrounds, car parks and protected sporting and leisure sites,” he said. “Kingston Council needs to get a grip and ensure that people have proper outdoor space and local services suitable for the increasing density of developments that they have been allowing.”