Kingston is expecting huge changes in 2023, including a decision on the borough’s tallest tower block, demolition of an estate for more than 2,000 new homes and updates on the controversial replacement of a beloved leisure centre.

The expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will also have a massive impact on some drivers in the borough – particularly those driving diesel cars.

A consultation on Kingston’s local plan is another key feature of the year and will shape development in the borough for the next 20 years when finalised – including major plans for the town centre. 

The council aims to finalise the local plan for adoption by late 2023.

Cambridge Road Estate demolition and revamp

Demolition of the Cambridge Road Estate in Norbiton began in December and will continue this year – 452 new homes will then be built under the first phase of the plan.

Eventually, all 832 homes on the estate will be bulldozed for 2,170 new homes – including at least 114 extra council homes.

The council approved the first phase of the scheme in December 2021.

At the meeting, locals raised concerns about the scale of the development.

Conservative councillor Ian George added: “We’re changing from suburban Kingston to central London.”

In a statement in December, Lib Dem councillor Emily Davey said: “Embarking on the redevelopment of the Cambridge Road Estate will help transform so many people’s lives now, and in the future, for the better.” Phases two to five of the scheme have outline permission.

Future of the Kingfisher Leisure Centre site

The demolition of the beloved Kingfisher Leisure Centre was approved in March last year, despite a petition signed by almost 4,000 locals to save it.

Plans for the replacement centre were approved in May.

The centre shut in late 2019 after it was decided repairs to fix the roof would cost more than £5 million.

A council report in October said the estimated total cost of the project had risen from the agreed £39.6 million budget to £53 million based on latest estimates.

Kingston residents quizzed councillors on the opening date of the new centre at a meeting on October 11. 

Lib Dem councillor Noel Hadjimichael said the earliest would be the end of 2024 but that a “crystal ball” would be needed to say when it is most likely to open.

The new leisure centre is set to include two swimming pools, a café, five-a-side rooftop football pitches and a climbing wall.

ULEZ will be expanded to cover the whole borough

Kingston motorists will have to pay £12.50 a day to drive around the borough if their cars do not fit the ULEZ emissions standard from August.

The borough does not currently fall under the ULEZ but it will from August 29.

The scheme, which targets the most polluting vehicles, was introduced in central London in 2019 and later expanded to cover all areas within the North and South Circular roads of London.

The expansion includes a scrappage scheme to help disabled and low-income residents, micro businesses and charities replace or retrofit their non-compliant vehicles.

Tower block will replace old NHS clinic after local anger

Building works will begin this year on a controversial scheme to replace the former Hawks Road Clinic with a 13-storey tower block for 125 new homes.

The existing building was used as an NHS clinic until February 2020 and a vaccine clinic up to April last year.

The council approved the development on November 2. A resident told the meeting: “I do not want this monster opposite my house.”

A consultant for the developers said the building will be the best reuse of the empty site, far enough away from nearby buildings and contribute to Kingston’s affordable housing stock.

Building works on the scheme are expected to begin in February, according to planning documents.

Decision on the borough’s tallest tower block

Plans to turn Kingston’s tallest building into homes were submitted in November after old plans thrown out on appeal faced controversy.

Iconic 22-storey office building Tolworth Tower would be turned into 492 homes under the plans, with two tower blocks built next to it – one 19 storeys tall and the other 15 storeys. Tolworth Tower is currently empty.

Building works on the first phase of the scheme are expected to begin in December this year if approved, according to planning documents.