Eden Campus: Developers reduce height of Kingston town centre project but drop affordable housing

The developers of the Eden Campus, a new building complex on Eden Street in Kingston town centre, have agreed to have its height reduced from 22 to 16 storeys as a result of pressure from local councillors.

The consequence of this is that developers Cube Real Estate will no longer be including affordable housing as part of its proposals which originally made up 35 per cent of the 156 flats being built on the site.

The new plans will go forward for scrutiny and public consultation, meaning they will soon be published on the council website for comments by residents.

Leader of Kingston Council, Caroline Kerr, said: “Reducing the height of the residential building on Unilever’s campus to 16-storeys is welcomed, but removing all affordable homes certainly is not.

“We expect affordable homes to be built as part of this development and will negotiate hard to have a deal that includes homes that local people can afford.”

New car parking space

The Eden Campus proposals also include 360 new parking spaces with electric charging infrastructure.

Green Party councillor Sharon Sumner said the spaces should be cut rather than the low-cost housing. 

“They’re proposing hundreds and hundreds of car-parking spaces so let’s take those out and use that space to provide social housing.

“Let’s not forget 16 storeys is still quite tall, it’s not like they’re proposing nine storeys and no social housing, so I just find it all a bit hard to stomach,” said Sumner.

16 storeys still too tall

The Kingston Society, which campaigns on planning and conservation issues, says that even with a reduced height, the development is still too high.

It said the development is part of a wider programme of inappropriately large towers being built in Kingston town centre.

Keith Payne, vice chair of the Kingston Society, said: “More storeys need to be removed and the overall development reduced in size.

“This change merely emphasises the gargantuan scale of the other towers in the complex which have no place in our historic town.”

Several plans for other large scale developments have been proposed for the town, including a 25 storey building at Canbury Place Car Park and the construction of 500 new residential units on the currently vacant Surrey County Hall on Penrhyn Road.

The Kingston Society said more should be done by Kingston Council to ensure developments are compliant with current guidelines for the local area.

“Our Planning officers and Councillors need to stand firm, protect our heritage assets and uphold the planning rules we have in place,” said Payne.

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