Eden Walk Regeneration, the group organising the revitalisation of Eden Walk shopping centre, put its “innovative” plans on display for public scrutiny on October 24 and 25.
A shopping centre, boutique cinema, sky restaurant, 400 new apartments and office spaces are all part of the plan to rejuvenate the area.
The exhibition, held in a storefront in Eden Walk, allowed locals to explore the project through digital tours of the final design, which aims to develop economic growth in Kingston town centre.
Gregory Fonseca, the project architect, said: “The thing about this centre at night is that at about five or six the shops close and this is quite dead.
“You’ll get the occasional student later at night stumbling home, but it’s quite dead, and there is no night-time economy in this area. Part of the concept all along has been about bringing in night-time economy.”
British Land and Universities Superannuation (USS) have teamed up to develop the project and will be submitting the proposal to Kingston Council for consideration at the end of October.
An answer to the proposal is expected by February 2016. If accepted the project will begin in Autumn 2016 with a view to reopening Eden Walk by Christmas 2019.
The project will consist of a “green infrastructure”, ensuring the preservation of an environment that is in keeping with sustainable ethics.
Greengage, a sustainability consultancy, was instrumental in developing the environmentally friendly ethos of the project. Mitch Cooke, a representative of Greengage, advised the team on how to put sustainable elements into the development.
He described the companies “far-reaching and innovative sustainability objectives”, which include a roof mechanism “to hold and slowly release rain water that’s captured on the roofs so that you don’t get sewer flooding and problems associated with flooding on ground level”.
The project’s green focus was clear in the inclusion of more green spaces for public use across the new design, with Memorial Gardens getting a complete makeover to make it a safer, more accessible space for Kingston residents.
Valuing public opinion
Max Camplin, managing director of British Land, a property investment company, said: “We feel very positive about where we are with this, the reason we’re here today is so that people can see in its entirety what we want to do and they will form their judgement as a result.”
Various members of the public expressed concern about how long the project would take to complete.
Ulla Jones, a local resident, said: “It looks very exciting, but how long is it going to take to do? Are we not going to be able to shop for the next two years?”
She added: “I’d like there to be a lot more brick than using all concrete, I think it’s more friendly, concrete can become very alien somehow.”
Other residents were concerned about whether the necessary amenities would be provided for new residents, including doctors and schools.
Katy Pullen, who lives in Charter Quay, said she admired the transparency of the project, but admitted she had some concerns about how Kingston Council would handle it.
“The council are pushing for these kinds of development sites without actually answering questions around the schools, the hospitals, the doctors.
“Bring people in, but make sure you’ve got the resources to accommodate them.”
The project will be open to public critique at a meeting on January 21 at All Saints Parish Church in Kingston Market Place, where Matthew Secker, director of British Land, and Gregory Fonseca, Project Architect, will be in attendance to discuss any concerns.
More information and feedback forms can be found at: www.edenwalkregeneration.com.