Questions asked by Chessington District Residents Association at the South of the Borough Neighbourhood Committee Meeting – 10th September 2013

This month’s topics – Q1 Thirteen Flats on North Parade- Q2 Need for Primary School Places, Why not Moor Lane? – Q3 Smog over Chessington!, location of pollution monitoring kit.

QUESTION 1

The planning application to build 13 flats on the North Parade car wash site was approved at the last Neighbourhood Committee meeting. RBK’s Residential Design SPD, published in December 2012 ( policy statement 13 in that document ) states that there should be thirteen square metres of amenity space per dwelling. However the Councillors accepted the developer’s proposals to build only ten square metres of amenity space per dwelling. This is a reduction of twenty three per cent on RBK’s already small minimum standard! To our certain knowledge all of the Councillors present occupy homes with considerably larger amenity space and all have brought up children and are familiar with the space needed.

The Planning Officer present either did not know of the Councils guide lines or chose to ignore it. As also did the Councillors! The proposed flats are very small and the building is seriously over developed. It is wrong that social or affordable housing is built to such a poor, cramped spatial standard that one of your predecessors, when speaking of this developers previous planning application  for this site, called the proposed flats ”guinea pig hutches”.

What can you do to rectify this very serious error?

ANSWER – QUESTION 1

The Councils Residential Design Supplementary Planning Document took effect from Monday the 16th of July 2013 and applied to all new planning applications for qualifying development submitted on or after that date. As the planning application to build 13 flats at the former service station on Bridge Road was submitted prior to the adoption of the Supplementary Planning document the SPD did not form part of the assessment of the application.

Not with standing this, the size of the approved dwellings do conform to the space standards set out within the London Plan (referenced within Policy Guidance 28 of the SPD), and the level of amenity space provision for the future occupiers of the proposed development was considered acceptable.

COMMENT -  QUESTION 1

We do not think that the answer given to question one is acceptable. The change to the SPD which proposed a new Council policy of increased amenity space was published early in 2013. It took the normal three or four month period to process the amendment and get it voted into our Council regulations. During that time the developer, Paragon Homes, were presumably speaking to RBK Planning Officers about the forthcoming planning application, as is the usual practise with major planning applications. RBK refer to Paragon as one of their ‘partners’, so we can presume that a close working relationship exists. We think that the lead planning officer would, or should, have drawn Paragon’s attention to the forthcoming increase in the amenity space that developers are now obliged to provide. In our opinion Paragon, in a spirit of partnership to RBK, and in order to provide the best possible homes, should have accepted the impending increase in amenity space. Their planning application is dated the 6th of June, a date when the initiative to increase amenity space had been in the public domain for some months and was certain to be passed by the full Council.

 QUESTION  2

In last Friday’s Surrey Comet the lead story was that Kingston’s schools need to provide places for 1,300 children in the next four years.  Over 1,000 of these will have to be primary school places. 

Will the Council please now rectify their very wrong decision to close Moor Lane school and now reopen it?  This would give the Council the benefit of a large, purpose built school with excellent facilities that could be restored to its proper function at relatively little expense, in a short period of time.  The various activities currently conducted at the ‘Moor Lane Centre’ could easily be moved to Tolworth hospital where there are many unoccupied or underutilised buildings.

ANSWER – QUESTION 2

 

The Neighbourhood Manager, Barry Allen, read a reply provided by the Head ofSchool Place Commissioning for Kingston and Richmond Education as follows“The story in last Friday’s Surrey Comet was based upon Local GovernmentAssociation data which, unfortunately, was not properly contextualised, i.e. it wasnot broken down by age-groups and sub-borough areas and did not take intoaccount the planning that the borough has already undertaken or has proposed toundertake.“At its meeting last November, the Council’s People’s Services Committee adopteda revised school place planning strategy that proposed a number of solutions tomeet forecast demand for school places within the Royal Borough. The committee

Subsequently considered and approved an update to that strategy at its meeting inMarch.“Within the Chessington and Hook school place planning area, coterminous with theChessington North & Hook and Chessington South electoral wards, it is envisagedthat the permanent expansion of Lovelace Primary School will provide the additionalpermanent places needed to meet forecast demand within the short- to medium term.“For the longer-term, the Council will continue to monitor actual demand and usebirth, admissions and other data to forecast demand for school places as accuratelyas possible. If, at any point, we consider that additional places will be required inChessington and Hook, appropriate contingency plans will be drawn up andproposed within timescales that will enable demand to be met in a timely and

strategic manner.”

 COMMENT  QUESTION 2 by  Kathy Milton, Executive Member

I am of the opinion that any development plans for the school site (cycling track)  should be put on hold until the true picture of extra places needed is known.    A school could be quickly reinstated on the large Moor Lane site at minimal cost, and without the need for more children to be educated on a building site.   

SoB primary expansion costs upon completion of the works being carried out at Lovelace and Castle Hill , plus the plans still to be presented for an extra six mobile classrooms at Lovelace could reach £20 million and yet we read of damning OFSTED reports in relation to 6  SoB schools telling us that they “could do better”.  I do not find these reports surprising, since children have been educated on sites that have been undergoing major building works.   For many years the CCC, St Phillips and Ellingham children and young people  have been subjected to a  rolling programme of building works with the erection of a six form block, sports hall, two temporary villages, demolition and rebuild of two schools.   Not to mention the demolition of the Harrow Public House and erection of flats on the site and the houses developed in Strawberry Hill on their doorsteps.   During the consultation period in regard to primary expansion concerns that were raised about the wellbeing of children on “building sites” council officers  said that the children enjoyed watching the works going on around them, which of course they do.   Unfortunately OFSTED  weren’t looking for dumper truck proficiency.    It is obvious to me that  children’s education has been compromised and I would hope that our councillors will say no to any future expansion plans that will put other children on building sites, and reinstating a school on the Moor Lane site would surely be an affordable step towards this.

Question 3

During the night of Wednesday/Thursday the 5th/6th of September there was no wind and Chessington and Hook were covered by a dense mist.  By dawn this had turned to smog, the cloudless sky was a nearly opaque dark grey and, when a person went outside there was a very strong smell of oil and vehicle fumes.  This event was a radical illustration of the amount of ‘background air pollution’, to use RBK’s term, that we currently suffer. 

Some of us are old enough to remember the killer smogs of the 1950’s, which had such a death toll that the clean air act was introduced. Air pollution from burning coal is now seems to being replaced by air pollution from vehicle emissions.

Will you please give us an update on the installation of the air pollution particle measuring station that is being installed on the A3?  Is it being installed at the location where there has already been a planning application to build 550 homes, which was withdrawn, to be replaced by an application to build only 165 homes. That is at the western end of the Tesco site. Recent reports in the Surrey Comet indicate that our Planning Officers are in continuing contact with the developer. If the air pollution particle measuring station is not being constructed at this location, why not? This is the location where accurate pollution monitoring statistics are most needed!

ANSWER - QUESTION 3

The Democratic Support Officer, Jean Cousens, read a reply provided by

Environmental Health Manager (Pollution Control & Licensing) as follows:-

“The air quality monitoring station will be installed at a site approximately outside132/134 Tolworth Broadway (Munchy Hut Cafe) and, whilst installation has beendelayed by unforeseen complications with utility supplies and competition with otherhighway projects, arrangements are advanced to the extent that this site cannot nowbe relocated without causing further significant delays.The proposed location is in accordance with the wishes of Members and will providedata that is representative of the impact of road traffic on the roundabout on local airquality. Modelling will enable extrapolation of data to provide evidence of the impactof traffic on the roundabout on pollution in a wider area.I have consulted with colleagues at the Environment Research Group at KingsCollege London who advise that a pollution episode occurred from 4-6th Septemberin which increased levels of pollution were detected across the South of London.The episode was caused by a relatively unusual convergence of meteorologicalconditions which resulted in the South of London being impacted by pollution from

other areas, including continental Europe. The episode was not representative of theusual background air pollution in the area.”

 

OUR COMMENT  QUESTION 3 by Francis Brannan, Executive Member

 

Our Association is unhappy with this answer.

We have been to Tolworth to see the proposed location of the particle testing machine. It is on the pavement outside the cafe which is next door to the shop used by Tesco for the presentation of its development plans. That is, it is directly on the roundabout, between the slip road off the A3 and the entry to Tolworth Broadway.

As a site for measuring air pollution by particulates this site does have problems. Most of the air pollution from passing traffic is on the A3 which at this location is well below ground level in the underpass. Therefore the readings will be inaccurately low.The site is close to the Tolworth Tower and is also affected by the artificial wind patterns and distortions caused by the twenty stories high tower block. We have all experienced these wind variations when visiting Finefare or Marks and Spencer. The measurements from the machine will not provide accurate data of the vehicle generated air pollution on this part of the A3.

In our opinion it is very important to accurately assess the current level of particulate pollution affecting the boys of Southborough School. Particulate pollution passes into the body and is retained. The school playgrounds are adjacent to the roadway. Young people are susceptible to lifelong bodily damage if exposed to excessive particulate air pollution We would like to know the level of vehicle generated pollution to which they are exposed.

Another location that we think needs accurate pollution data compiling is the Tesco site on the A3. The first planning proposal shown to the public included 550 homes, the second proposal 165 homes. Neither of those proposals was pursued, but inevitably there will be a third proposal which will include homes. In our opinion the site has very high levels of vehicle generated air pollution which makes unsuitable for housing to be built. We would like a particle testing machine located there for a period to gain an accurate knowledge of the pollution levels.