TESCO TOLWORTH PLANNING APPLICATION UPDATE OCTOBER 2012

 

Tesco have publically announced that they have lodged a third planning application to build a supermarket on the old government offices/Toby Jug site at Tolworth. The supermarket will be approximately the same size as the Waitrose supermarket in Surbiton.

 

There are also two provisional planning applications from Tesco for the same site. One is to build approximately 269 housing units, a combination of small houses and flats. The second is to build a 60 bedroom hotel with a small car park.

 

The planning applications were announced in late spring, since then there has been no further news of their progress. At the September meeting of the Councils South of the Borough Neighbourhood Committee we asked a multi part question to ascertain how the planning applications have progressed.

 

Residents are aware that there is also a current project to turn Tolworth Broadway into a Greenway. This entails removing the pedestrian barriers and creating a more flexible space to be shared by pedestrians and vehicles. This radical project is underway, its detailed planning is nearly complete, it is fully funded by RBK and the Mayor of London and does not require planning permission. The access to the proposed Tesco Supermarket, housing estate and hotel will have to be integrated with Tolworth Greenway project. These issues were also touched upon in our question.

 

Our multi part question and the detailed answers that we received are as follows. We are very grateful to Ms Jean Cousins of RBKs Democratic Services and Partnerships Department and to Mr Narinder Lakhan of RBKs Development and Control Department for their efficient, courteous and helpful replies to our question.

 

WRITTEN QUESTIONS & ANSWERS FROM THE RBK MEETING MINUTES

PUBLIC QUESTIONS

 

From Chessington District Residents Association

 

Question 1. Building Control Somerset Avenue

 

When planning permission is granted the applicant will pay for processing the application

and for building control services. The plans are first checked for conformity to planning

regulations.

 

Subsequently during the building process Building Control Officers (BCO's) check each

major stage of construction and, if the build passes all stages of inspection, they issue a

completion certificate. We are informed that Kingston's BCO's have a good reputation.

We are concerned that BCO'S may not be able to identify buildings that have been part

built, then work has been stopped and the buildings left exposed to the elements for long

periods. If left unprotected such structures can be damaged by frost, snow or protracted

periods of rain such as we have experienced this year.

 

The initial construction of the new houses in Somerset Avenue got as far the construction of

blockwork walls and the installation of wooden rafters before work was halted for many

months during the very bad weather of winter, spring and early summer. The walls and

roofing timber were fully exposed to the weather. We are advised that blockwork soaks up

water and is prone to cracking by frosts and during drying out. Also that stress graded

timber shrinks after prolonged exposure to rain and frost. Such damage could jeopardise

the structural integrity of the building.

 

Do our Building Control Officers specifically check constructions that have been abandoned

for extended periods for this type of damage? Does the Council employ enough BCO's to

undertake this work; How many BCO'S does the Council employ?

 

The Councils Building Control Services group consists of eight Surveyors including

Lead Officers. Surveyors are responsible for a geographical area of the borough,

Steve Wilson being the Surveyor for South of the Borough, where the site in

question is located.

 

Regular inspections have been undertaken at the site address and will continue to

be carried out. Mr Wilson is aware that the site works were halted for a period

between March and August, but has been to site recently once works restarted. The

blockwork, and roof and floor structures were therefore not subject to any significant

or prolonged frost action as they were built during late February and into March.

 

Regulation 7 of the Building Act covers Materials and Workmanship. Should any of

the as-built construction appear to have been adversely affected by the elements,

this Regulation would be used to require alteration of any offending works. The most

recent inspection of the site did not reveal any areas of concern.

 

Question 2 Tesco at Tolworth

 

May we please have a progress report on the progress of the planning application to build a

supermarket on the old government offices site at Tolworth?

Will the report please cover the following issues:-

 

2.1. Are the detailed plans for the integration of the rebuilt roundabout and the new Tolworth

Broadway scheme yet finalised and if so when will we be able to see them?

 

The integration of the Tolworth Greenway project and the Tesco scheme, if

approved, will be required in Kingston Road. The detailed design of the Tolworth

Greenway project is complete and once it is approved by TfL the detailed drawings

could be made available for inspection. The drawings of Kingston Road submitted

with the Tesco planning application are at the preliminary design stage and show

how the Greenway project layout would have to be modified to integrate the two

layouts. If the Tesco application is approved, the programme for the detailed design

of Tesco Kingston Road scheme will be agreed to suit the implementation of the

Greenway project.

 

2.2 Who, if anyone, will be the leading authority for the design and supervision of the

construction for the roundabout and with its integration with Tolworth Broadway, which is a

complex project?

 

TfL are the highway authority for Tolworth roundabout and Kingston Road so TfL will

be responsible for approving the designs. RBK is responsible for the

implementation of the Greenway project including supervision. This is covered by

an agreement between RBK and TfL and an experienced contractor will be

appointed to undertake the construction. TfL will undertake the supervision of Tesco

highway works and Tesco will need to agree with TfL who will be responsible for the

construction of those works.

 

2.3. Residents are aware that TfL have severe financial and resource problems. We are

aware that, if it is completed on schedule, it will have taken TfL nearly a year to install a

pedestrian sequence into an already existing pedestrian crossing at Merritt Gardens. Is the

Council confident that TfL are a responsible enough organisation to be allowed to

participate in this project?

 

TfL are responsible for the approval of the Leatherhead Road / Merritt Gardens

junction scheme. The civil engineering works for the Tolworth Greenway scheme

will be implemented by RBK under an agreement with TfL, as mentioned above.

The installation of all the traffic signal equipment will be carried out by the TfL signal

contractor in the Tolworth Greenway project and the Tesco scheme, as TfL are

responsible for all such installations in London. The programme for the Tolworth

Greenway project and the Tesco scheme implementation is dependent on obtaining

TfL approval of the schemes. TfL are the highway authority for Leatherhead Road/

Merritt Gardens, Tolworth roundabout and Kingston Road, so the involvement of TfL

is necessary and essential for the successful completion of projects in those

locations.

 

2.4. Will TfL or the developer be bearing the cost of the roadway and pedestrian

integration?

 

This is question for TfL to answer but it would be usual for the developer to bear the

cost of any highway works associated with a development such as the Tesco

scheme.

 

2.5. Is a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment for the whole site currently

being undertaken by the Council? Will it be detailed enough to assess the pollution levels to

be expected by the housing areas and also the pollution exposure of pedestrians crossing

the roundabout?

 

The applicants prior to the submission of the planning application submitted an

Environmental Impact Assessment Screening opinion. The Council considered that

in this case a full EIA was not required. The applicants have however submitted a

robust Air Quality Assessment which the Council are considering.

 

2.6. How is the SOTB public consultation going to be conducted? Have any dates yet been

proposed?

 

Once all the issues have been resolved, the procedure for consultation and the

dates will be discussed with the Chair of the Committee.

 

2.7. When does the Council expect the planning application to go before the

Development Control Committee?

 

At this stage, with a number of major issues unresolved in respect of the retinal

impact, highways and provision of affordable housing, there is no date as to when

this case will be presented at Development Control Committee.

 

Supplementary questions were raised at the meeting for which replies will be provided in

writing, including a question from Mr Hope relating to Hook Rise North service road.

 

A member of the public indicated that she had heard that there was to be a meeting

between Tesco representatives and Sunray Estate residents; the resident asked if this

would be a public meeting for residents. Members indicated that

if one set of residents had this opportunity, this should be extended to other residents associations and that the meeting should be public,

there should be no suggestion of S106 planning agreements being discussed in this context.

 

As air quality will be a factor to consider when the application is heard, Cllr Rolson

Davies indicated his concern that the air quality monitoring equipment at Tolworth

Roundabout which the Committee had approved in January should be installed as

soon as possible.

 

 

SUPPLEMENTARY QUESTIONS ASKED BY COUNCILLORS AND RESIDENTS AT THE MEETING TOGETHER WITH OUR COMMENTS

 

Re. Question 2.5 Vehicle Generated Air Pollution. Our Association accepts that under the law as it now stands an Air Quality Assessment (AQI) is all that is required. However, we have doubts that RBK Officers have the expertise to validate the data that Tesco has supplied for an AQI. If our Officers make the wrong validation the health of generations of people who will live on this site will be put at serious risk.

 

Councillor Sharon Hartley said that Councillors are aware that the Tolworth Greenway project currently has no risk of delay. Could the Tesco development possibly delay the Greenway project? RBK Road Engineer Mr Paul Dearman replied that TfL are now close to the final approval of the Greenway scheme. It is expected to be put out to tender in late October. It is a stand alone scheme. RBK are aware of the need to integrate the schemes if Tesco gains planning permission. RBK are also aware of the need to avoid further expense. RBK are optimistic that the two schemes will have a time frame to allow for planning integration.

 

Councillor Rolson Davies reminded the committee that in January 2012 they had approved the installation of air pollution monitoring tubes in the South of the Borough and that one was to be installed on the Tolworth roundabout. Has that yet been installed he asked, saying that he did not think it had. He also said that he was concerned that the only provision of air quality data was to be supplied by Tesco and he would like to have some data from RBK. He was told by the Officer that these points would be followed up. This association would respectfully state that we have been pressing RBK to undertake air pollution monitoring on this site since the first Tesco planning application was lodged many years ago. We have continued to press for pollution monitoring of the site as it was obvious that as Tesco owned the site they would continue to lodge further planning applications. RBK has always avoided this issue and refused to undertake any air quality monitoring. As a result RBK have no air quality data available to enable them to make comparative qualification of the data supplied by Tesco.

 

A representative of the Croft Residents Association said that a meeting had been arranged between Tesco and residents of the Sunray Estate, which lies to the south east of the Tolworth junction, between the A3 and the railway line. Councillor Hartley said that she had asked for more meetings to be held by Tesco with residents and residents associations from other adjacent areas.

 

Councillor Vicki Harris said that Councillors representing Sunray Estate residents have asked planning officers to contact Tesco to ask if there is any planning gain possible (that is a euphemism for money for projects) that could benefit the Sunray residents. She said that she was not sure if public meetings are of benefit when dealing with such issues but if one happens then everyone should have the opportunity to attend. Councillor Hartley agreed. Our residents association thinks that any planning gains should be considered in the light of benefiting the whole of the South of the Borough community. An example would be a large public swimming pool.

 

At the October Neighbourhood Committee we asked if there had been news of any further progress. The answer was no. However, during discussion of an unrelated housing issue it was mentioned that it had been arranged that the social housing on the Tesco site would be run by a housing association and that tenants would be chosen from Kingstons housing waiting list by RBK.

We will continue to update this posting in the future as developments occur.