The spectre of more student housing in Kingston brought so many residents to a planning hearing Kingston Council workers had to find extra chairs to accommodate them.
Flats for 140 students in High Street could still be built despite being refused by councillors in January, and about 30 residents of South Lane and surrounding roads descended on the Guildhall to put across their views.
The proposed view from across the river. Courtesy CZWG
Real estate investors Enstar Capital have appealed the councillors’ decision and the Planning Inspectorate held a hearing on Tuesday to gather more evidence.
Architect Piers Gough, a Royal Academician and CBE, said he felt his design for a new building to replace Swan House in High Street would create an attractive “southern gateway approach” to Kingston along the Portsmouth Road.
He added: “It, I think, is a building which suggests the celebration of its location more than its neighbours.”
The back of the proposed building. Courtesy: CZWG
But Milner Road resident Manoj Damodar, 40, said he worried about the impact the influx of 140 students would have on the area.
He said: “I’m not sure of how much value is going to get assigned to the views of the residents.
“There was a lot of discussion of the character in terms of how it looks. But there’s also the character of the area - that comes from the type of people that live there. It’s a very family area.”
Another resident called the proposed building a “monstrosity”, and received a ripple of applause when he sat back down.
When the council first consulted residents and others on the plans, Kingston University opposed the creation of more studio flats, saying it preferred cluster arrangements.
Kingston police had said they were concerned about more people living in the riverside area and a possible rise in disorder.
Planning inspector Sukie Tamplin is expected to issue a decision – in the same process the Seething Wells filter beds underwent – in about six weeks’ time.