Developers have been told not to “act like Vikings” as the future of Kingston town centre was discussed at an exclusive business conference this week.
Kingston Council leader Kevin Davis delivered the warning at the end of Kingston Futures, held at the Rose Theatre on Tuesday, which effectively put Kingston in the shop window for potential investors.
About 150 business delegates paid £354 a ticket to be at the day-long event, which pitched Kingston as a viable destination for retail, commerce and tourism in the wake of increased competition from the likes of Guildford, Croydon and the Westfield shopping centre.
The revamped ancient market – officially re-opened on the same day – Crossrail 2, and the £30m mini-Holland cycling project, were also discussed.
Speakers included London deputy mayor for business Kit Malthouse, Kingston Council leader Kevin Davis, cycling commissioner Andrew Gilligan and Kingstonfirst chief executive Ros Morgan.
Kit Malthouse at the Kingston Futures conference
Claudette Forbes, programme manager of Shaping Kingston, outlined the development opportunities available, including Eden Quarter, north Kingston and Kingston train station.
But she emphasised developments must be done within Kingston Council’s vision for the town centre, and not just “piecemeal” schemes aimed solely for profit.
She said: “This is our best chance to affect the change and transformation the town needs. It’s very important we get this right. It cannot be done piecemeal.”
In his closing conference speech, Coun Davis reiterated the message, alluding to Kingston’s history as the site where King Athelstan, the first King of England, was crowned in AD925.
Coun Davis said: “It’s an extraordinary fact that the town has hidden for many years, that this is the place where England began.
“In 838 a charter was signed here between the king and a bishop, which set out how the church and the monarchy would carve up the kingdom.
“In 925 a man came here to be crowned, but unlike other Saxon kings he was the first King of England.
King Athelstan is considered the first King of England - a waxwork model of the monarch stands in Kingston Museum
“In 1009, the Vikings came here, and burnt down the small church which is now All Saints.
“I say to you – don’t be Vikings. Don’t come here and pillage.
“Why not be that king, who came here and created a great kingdom?”
Elsewhere at the Kingston Futures conference:
Richard De Cani
The introduction of Crossrail 2 would help growth in Kingston, according to Transport for London.
Richard De Cani, Transport for London’s director of transport strategy and planning, made the case for the potential new rail line for London and the south east during the Kingston Futures conference on Tuesday.
He said Crossrail 2 would provide eight trains per hour from Kingston to central London – roughly one every seven minutes – taking passengers to Tottenham Court Road in under half an hour in a single journey.
He said as more jobs were created in central London, Kingston would become a more attractive place to live if commuters could get to work on just one train.
He said: “Crossrail 2 is not just about transport alone, but what it can do for London, and Kingston’s, future growth.”
London cycling commissioner Andrew Gilligan laughed off suggestions Kingston’s winning mini Holland bid was only picked because he was on the judging panel.
The Teddington-born journalist and former Kingston College student claimed he had heard suggestions Kingston was picked because of the Telegraph writer’s “ancestral heritage”.
But Mr Gilligan dismissed the notion by repeating a comment made by one of his fellow judges, who said: “There’s Kingston, and then there’s everyone else.”
Kingston is set to receive £30m from London Mayor Boris Johnson’s cycling scheme fund.
Plans include building a fixed, cycle-only boardway along the river between Thameside near John Lewis to Queens Promenade at Town End Parade, with improved boat moorings.
A new plaza will be created outside Kingston station for more pedestrians and cyclists, while the taxi rank outside Surbiton station will be replaced with a new town square.
A new cycle route between New Malden and Raynes Park will also be built.