Kingston councillors drew rapturous cheers as they overwhelming rejected plans to build a 16-storey tower block in the heart of the town centre tonight.

Councillors voted 11-0 in favour of rejecting the plans, which would have seen the old post office site in Ashdown Road redeveloped, during a raucous development control committee meeting at the Guildhall.

The planning application, the latest submitted by property developer St George, was presented to a packed public gallery, drawing jeers from objectors throughout, with some calling the plans "outrageous".

Group manager for Development Management David Horkan opened the meeting, arguing the plans would “provide high quality retail and office accommodation” and “welcome employment opportunities" in the area.

Objectors were soon to shut down these claims, as councillors argued the plans failed to meet architectural standards and were “damaging to Kingston’s heritage”.

Councillor Gaj Wallooppillai said: “For the people who live in Kingston like myself, it just doesn’t meet our expectations."

Councillor Malcolm Self added: “It’s such an ill-conceived scheme, the design concept is wrong. It’s not just the fact it’s a high rise building.”

Plans were first submitted for a 21-storey building, which was then scaled down to 19 storeys with the current proposal for four to 16 storeys for residential use, a restaurant, office space, leisure or retail use and car parking.

Councillors bemoaned the lack of affordable homes in the development. Just 15 per cent of the homes – 49 out of 330 - have been proposed as affordable. This figure falls considerably short of the 50 per cent target for new developments in the borough. 

Councillor Jon Tolley said: “My grief against the application is the lack of affordability.

"You don't solve a famine in a disaster ridden country by providing food for the rich.”

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