November 2009

Planning appeal dismissed for flats near Chessington North Station

The site was previously used as a service station, but now offers car washes. It's an odd triangular plot, and you wouldn't think much could be fitted on it.

However, Richmond Churches Housing Association wanted to build 10 flats on the site - and not just small flats, but family sized ones, each with 3 or 4 bedrooms. I wrote about it on my old blog, after we refused the application in April, under the heading One of the worst designs I have ever seen.

The Housing Association appealed, but I'm pleased to say that they have just lost their appeal.

The main grounds given for dismissing the appeal were that "the scheme would not provide acceptable living conditions for future occupiers because of inadequate amenity space and privacy." By amenity space they mean gardens and balconies, and the Inspector referred to the tiny proposed common garden as 'gloomy'.

Good news so far. But the Inspector did not totally rule out the principles of the development. He agreed that it a four storey building was appropriate, and says that a 'strong built form' would be OK at this location. Rather worryingly, he says that 5 car parking spaces is enough for 10 large families.

So I am sure the developers will be back again with another proposal soon.

Christmas Park and Ride

Park and Ride begins again this Saturday and operates every day until Saturday 16th January, except Christmas and Boxing Days. The bus runs every 10 minutes.

You can park for free at the north car park at Chessington World of Adventures then catch the bus to Eden Street in Kingston. The return fare is only £2, which is much less than parking all day in Kingston. Under 16s are free, but other bus passes are not valid on this route.

Although the service is mainly intended for people coming into Kingston from further afield, it can be pretty useful for Chessington residents as well.

www.edwarddavey.co.uk and www libdems.org.uk

Two newly designed websites to admire, dissect and test to destruction....

Edward Davey MP - yes, you can blame me for this.

Liberal Democrats - nice new colour scheme, but I claim no responsibility for it.

Expenses and safe seats

One third of all MPs are in safe seats .... and they are more likely to have cheated on their expenses than those who are not in safe seats.

I've written about this before, but this short video makes the point very succinctly.

Remembrance Sunday 2009

I laid a wreath on behalf of the Mayor at the British Legion Remembrance Day service in Chessington today.

"When you go home
tell them of this and say,
for your tomorrow
we gave our today."

Neighbourhood meeting this Wednesday - all welcome

South of the Borough Neighbourhood Committee on Wednesday will be in the Hook Centre at 7.30pm.

The main item from my perspective is the Neighbourhood Community Plan. That may sound a bit dry, but it is something completely new in Kingston. This is because policies for the Neighbourhood have been developed, not by councillors or council officers, but by a panel of residents. The Community Plan will replace the annual policy statement by the Committee, and the policies in it will be tracked at future meetings.

So what are the policies they have proposed? In brief:

  • Provide accommodation for the Safer Neighbourhood Police teams
  • More influence over planning decision on housing
  • Better policing of the A3 and A243
  • Investigate the possible link between road pollution on the A3 and A243, and chronic chest disease
  • Reduce the impact of traffic volume
  • Improve communications between local residents and, on the one hand, TfL and on the other hand, the Council's contractors
  • Improve facilities for youth

If you would like to be on the Community panel, please contact Barry Allen, the Neighbourhood Manager, on [email protected]

There are two interesting planning applications on the agenda. The first is for a new building at Chessington Nurseries, to replace their large glasshouse behind the main retail area.

The second is for the redevelopment of the Red Lion site. This is the second application for this site, following a failed appeal at the refusal of the first one. In the agenda it is listed as an item for decision, but that has now changed, and it will be coming to us for consultation only. It will then go to Surbiton Neighbourhood and on to the central Development Control Committee in December for a decision. This has one big advantage - members of the public will be able to comment freely on the proposals at the two Neighbourhoods, which would not have been possible if it had come to us for decision.

As usual, I'm not able to comment on either of these planning applications before the meeting.

Apart from those items, we will also be responding to the petition about the Playscape in Jubilee Way, monitoring the Neighbourhood budget, and agreeing on a name for a new close off the Leatherhead Road.

Me and my shadow

Yesterday I met the girl who is going to shadow me for the next few weeks. This is part of the Shadow a Local Councillor project, run by the British Youth Council. Seven councillors in Kingston are taking part.

So if I turn up at a meeting with a young person in tow, please welcome her!

What's up at Woolworths?

First, though, an update on the Neighbourhood meeting yesterday.

We (the local councillors) agreed the planning application for Chessington Nurseries, and adopted the Neighbourhood Community Plan. We were not at all happy about the latest planning application for the Red Lion pub site, and listed our concerns and those of residents nearby for the Development Control Committee, who will be deciding the application next month.

Now a bit of gossip - you may have noticed activity going on in the old Woolworths store in Hook Parade. Rumour has it that a carpet firm is moving in. I'll be very pleased to see the shop in use again but I'm wondering whether a carpet shop will attract enough custom. I do hope so, and wish it well.

Update

The Managing Director of English and Oriental Carpets read my blog and got in touch to confirm that they are going to be opening the store around Christmas. They are a local firm with existing shops in Surbiton and New Malden, so you may have come across them already. They will certainly add to the healthy variety in the Parade.

Night-time closures of Leatherhead Road

Good news - Transport for London is going to resurface a section of the Leatherhead Road just south of the Bridge Road roundabout.

The downside of this is that the road will be closed between the roundabout and Garrison Lane on a number of nights over the next week.

On Thursday 19th and Friday 20th the road will be closed southbound during the night, and on Monday 23rd and Tuesday 24th it will be closed northbound.

You have been warned!!

Update

The weather forecast for Thursday night is not good, so they have delayed the work this week. Leatherhead Road will now be closed southbound on Friday 20th and Saturday 21st.

Christmas lights

The Christmas lights will be switched on in Malden Rushett, Chessington North and Hook tomorrow.

If you make your way to Malden Rushett at 4.30pm a small group of us will gather to ceremonially switch on the festoons around the lamp-posts there. Then at 5.30pm we'll have a slightly busier event around the Christmas tree on North Parade with carols from a local school.

The picture shows last year's tree on North Parade.

The Hook Parade lights will turn themselves on at about the same time without any help from us.

Finally, the Tolworth Christmas lights will be switched on with much greater excitement next Tuesday, 24th November. Gather outside Our Lady Immaculate Church from 5pm where there will be activities for children and a band.

South of the Borough and Surbiton get together

Next Wednesday the councillors from South of the Borough and Surbiton will be meeting together to mull over a couple of issues that affect both neighbourhoods.

I'm told that technically we will be having two Neighbourhood Committees, at the same time in the same place, which sounds as if it could be chaotic! But we will be sensible and run it as one meeting, of course.

The main item is the Tolworth Project.

. . .

At the meeting we will be hearing the results of the consultation and deciding the next steps.

The other item will be around some improvements to the Hook Road north of the Ace, including some new crossings.

As usual you are very welcome to attend and take part in the discussions. The meeting will be on Wednesday 25th November at 7.30pm in Tolworth Girls School.

Scores on the Doors

Scores on the Doors is the neat name that Kingston is giving to the Food Hygiene Ratings for premises in the borough.

There are 859 businesses that have to be assessed - not just the obvious restaurants and pubs, but anywhere that serves food, including works canteens, schools and care homes.

When each premise is inspected it is given a star rating, from 5 stars down to none. So it is worth checking the list to see whether your favourite eating place is up to scratch. 1 star is rated as Poor and No stars is clearly very inadequate.

In Chessington North and Hook, two places have scored only 1 star - The Lucky Rover and Kingston Rugby Club. No-one has scored no stars.

Satnav madness

I am at home, waiting for Marks and Spencer to deliver a coffee table. They have helpfully phoned me to tell me what time to expect the delivery.

Phone rings: the driver tells me he will be with me in 10 minutes.

Phone rings: the driver has got to the other end of Clayton Road from Claygate and can't get through the width restrictor. He says the satnav told him to come this way. I suggest he goes back through Claygate and takes the A309 to Hook Junction.

Phone rings: driver says he got to Esher but the satnav send him back to Clayton Road and the width restrictor. I ask him if he has a map. No, he doesn't carry a map because he always follows the satnav. What happens when the satnav is wrong, I ask?

He then tells me that they will have to return the furniture to the depot in Tunbridge Wells as undeliverable, and then send it out again in a smaller van that can get through the width restrictor. I say, why not simply drive round the correct way?

I give him instructions to get to the Scilly Isles, then A309 and A243. I suggest he looks up the Marquis of Granby on the satnav to get him to the Scilly Isles.

Phone rings: Lorry is at Hook Junction - hallelujah! Where next? I direct him down the A243 to Bridge Road roundabout then back to Clayton Road.

Lorry arrives, one hour late. It is delivered in a Wincanton van, rather than a Marks and Spencer one. Apparently the M&S vans do carry satnavs designed for lorry drivers, which avoid hazards like width restrictors. Wincanton tell me that the software costs £500 so they don't bother.

I suggest they carry a road map as well as satnav.

Driver asks: where is Somerset Ave? Is it on the other side of the width restrictor? I point to it, past six houses, first right, this side of the width restrictor. As he could have seen if he had brought a map with him.

Tolworth - one of London's great spaces?

It may seem unlikely at present, but that accolade has been awarded to the emerging plans for the remodelling of Tolworth Broadway and the Roundabout.

The Mayor for London (in the form of a professional panel) has sifted through 125 projects and identified 36 that are to be included in the The Mayor's Great Spaces scheme. This is exciting stuff!

One advantage of being in the scheme is that it draws down some funding and advice at the design stage from the London Development Agency and Design for London.

Once the project is completed then it will be judged again by the panel, and will, if all goes well, be formally recognised as one of The Mayor's Great Spaces.

Of course, the proposals for a greenway through Tolworth, extending across the roundabout to the station, are still in the early stages.

Last night, at joint meeting of the Surbiton and South of the Borough Neighbourhoods, we decided to put the plans out for a formal consulation.

Sadly, in contrast to the Conservative Mayor of London, some of the local Conservative councillors seemed lukewarm about the proposals. It will be interesting to see what line they take as the consultation progresses. I do hope they will provide the kind of positive criticism that will strengthen the project rather than attempt to undermine it.

Pickled boys

This is a straightforward plug for a tuneful Christmas performance.

In two weeks time, on Saturday 12th December, I'll be joining my friends at Kingston Choral Society to sing Rutter's Magnificat and Britten's St Nicholas. It will begin at 7.30pm in Kingston Parish Church.

Last Saturday the choir hosted a day of musical inspiration, when John Rutter himself ran a workshop as part of the Kingston Festival of the Voice. We spent the day singing many of his works, including a rehearsal of the Magnificat, and he also introduced us to some beautiful pieces that were new to us. The morning session ended with the Hallelujah Chorus, which is always described as 'rousing' - because it is.

One of the things Rutter told us was that he was inspired by Spanish festivals when he wrote the Magnificat - after all, it is the song of the Virgin Mary, whose feast days are so often celebrated in Catholic countries with much colour, music and fun. It is full of rhythm and references to all kinds of music, from Scott Joplin to folk-dance.

If I had a cat, I think I would call it Mag.

As for Britten, well, he is one of my favourite composers. St Nicholas was originally written for the boys of Lancing College, but it is still quite demanding. They must have been good singers.

It tracks the life of Bishop Nicholas and mentions many of the legends associated with him. The story we all know is how he rescued three girls from prostitution by leaving gold coins in their shoes at Christmas, which is supposedly the origin of the tradition of giving gifts. But this only gets a brief mention, and the main drama is reserved for the story of the three pickled boys - you don't often get to sing about that.

Tory candidate in Richmond Park avoids paying millions in UK tax

Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative candidate who is challenging Susan Kramer in the Richmond Park constituency, has admitted that he has non-domiciled tax status.

According to The Sunday Times, Goldsmith has stored his £200million fortune overseas to avoid paying tax on it in this country. Non-dom status is meant for Brits who live overseas, not for UK residents (as he is) trying to get out of paying taxes on their wealth.

Not surprisingly, there has been widespread condemnation of this hypocrisy, at a time when the Tories have robustly attacked the practice.

To quote from The Sunday Times:

Lord Oakeshott, the Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, said: “Cameron must sack Zac Goldsmith as a candidate now. He’s not fit to sit in parliament, when he’s claimed non-dom status all his life to keep his offshore hundreds of millions free of income, capital gains or inheritance tax. He must pay the millions he’s dodged to the British taxman.”

I couldn't agree more.

Thanks to Andrew Reeves, for spotting it.

Published by Mary Reid, 126 Clayton Road, Hook Chessington KT9 1NJ
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