Kingston warned not 'to rest on laurels' as businesses and developers gather to map out future of town (From Surrey Comet)
Contact us: Got a photo? Text 'SLPICS' to 80360. Got a story? Call the newsdesk: 020 8722 6318
Kingston warned not 'to rest on laurels' as businesses and developers gather to map out future of town
New plans to revamp Kingston town centre could be announced at a conference where planners and business leaders will map out the town's future development.
About 150 delegates will descend on the Rose Theatre today for the Kingston Futures conference, designed to show off how the town centre could be built up, modernised and improved.
The new-look ancient market, Crossrail 2, and the mini-Holland cycling project, for which Kingston is set to receive millions of pounds in funding, are all on the agenda.
Claudette Forbes, manager of Kingston Council's Shaping Kingston programme, said one or two developers "may well choose the opportunity to talk in more detail about the schemes they have been working up. It's something they're keeping very close to their chests."
Council leader councillor Kevin Davis said: "If we stand still and do nothing then Kingston will start to decline. We have no option, in a sense.
"From developers' points of view they want a proactive council. We're ready for people to come to us and work with us.
"We've got so many other things to offer that [places like Westfield] don't - mainly that we're not just a barn with a bunch of shops."
The "shabby"-looking southern end of Eden Street is the key to revamping the town centre, he added.
Significant redevelopment could start in five years' time, with Eden Quarter the "major opportunity" and the most likely to come first.
Interest in the area around Eden Street and Wheatfield Way is healthy, though plans were scuppered four years ago when talks between Kingston Council and developers Hammerson fell through.
The area could have seen a new two-level shopping street, a new town square and bus station, and 250 homes.
Speakers at the conference will include London deputy mayor Kit Malthouse and MP Zac Goldsmith.
Industry representatives, office letting boss Bob Cattaneo and All Saints rector Rev Jonathan Wilkes are among the members of debate panels.
Kingston's crown as a shopping hub could be under threat from Westfield and Croydon if "we rest on our laurels", Ms Forbes said.
She added: "It's a fantastic town centre but our studies tell us that it could afford more major retail.
"[But] any proposals that we come up with must enhance and protect the great things we have already got. The heritage aspect of it is absolutely crucial."
Kingston Society chairman Jennifer Butterworth said: "I find the whole Kingston Futures most puzzling.
"It seems to be a jamboree for developers without any attempt to consider what the residents might think."
The council has hired expert consultants to help it draw up a design brief for Eden Quarter, which will go to consultation in the autumn.
A ticket to the conference costs £354, including VAT.
Comments are closed on this article.