Kingston Council approves joint venture to regenerate Cambridge Road estate

Kingston Council has approved plans to find a developer for the £1bn regeneration scheme of the Cambridge Road Estate.

The regeneration will see the entire estate demolished over a potential 15 year period and an increase in the number of properties from 832 to 2000.

In a press statement, Councillor Kevin Davis, Leader of Kingston Council, said: “This is an important moment in the history of our borough as we seek to provide higher quality housing for our council tenants and seek to do what we can to address the rising need for future council owned homes.”

According to a Kingston Council feasibility report 75% of the estate is comprised of social housing and there has been concern amongst residents and local groups that those in need of social housing will not be prioritised once the regeneration is complete.

There has been a guarantee that at least the same amount of social housing units will remain but it is unclear whether there will be an increase or what the cost of the new units will be as the council is working on the assumption that a developer will expect a 20% profit.

“Our conclusion is that if done properly it could be a win-win situation for the estate but it has to be done with residents re-housed and affordable housing included,” said Dr Michael D’Souza, Chairman of local charity OneNorbiton.

“The difficulty with a regeneration is that the value of the property will go up. Therefore, social rent which is 50% of market rent will go up and that is not something that is optional, it’s a legal requirement.”

Another problem for current residents is the issue of relocation once works begin. It is currently unclear where residents will be moved to under the council’s ‘decant’ policy once the regeneration begins.

Residents’ views on the estate regeneration:

The Growth Committee’s chairman David Cunningham has said the council will look at options to provide temporary housing for residents near the Cambridge Road estate.

“There has been no decision as of yet but we are looking at the possibility of a phase by phase decant situation where we could house tenants temporarily. Once their block has been complete, move them back in and start with the next one.

There will be the same amount of social housing units but once the tender is in we will hope to increase it.”

The Growth Committee’s decision came after months of consultation in which residents on the estate were presented with three regeneration options to choose from.

The options ranged from minor to medium, or full demolition of the estate and subsequent regeneration.

Less than half of the residents responded to the consultation and 44% of those that did respond voted for the third option- complete regeneration of the estate.

The image below details the council’s plan for the estate.

Jill Preston, chair of the Cambridge Road estate community group has lived on the estate for 18 years and says the decision has left her “spinning”.

“I try not to think about it as a resident otherwise it would drive me mad.

“The thought of years and years of building is depressing and at the moment I can’t visualise what it’s going to look like because we haven’t seen any plans, it could kill the community.” She said.

The council will put the contract out to tender and hope to find a developer by summer of next year who will help it develop a masterplan for the estate.

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