Eden Campus Views

Residents review of Eden Campus consultation, August 2020, Kingston upon Thames.

A three towers cluster “Eden Campus” development is proposed for the Surrey House Island Site, incorporating Lever House, the Hippodrome, Brook St Carpark and Surrey House. Comprising office & residential towers, one rising to a height similar to the Tolworth Tower, another matching the Royal Exchange’s signature tower. All three would breach planning guidance.

Initial reviews of the pre-submission proposals raise serious concerns which are not highlighted in the public consultation presentations. We want to draw attention to these key issues and show that there are more sensitive alternative approaches to developing this site. Our aim is not to obstruct but to steer towards the best possible outcome: a development which is less harmful to our beautiful historic town and respectful of our established planning framework.

All Residents and Councillors are urged to review the recent public consultation as well as this review and send their opinions to the developer at EdenCampus@communitycomms.co.uk

*We are local residents with international architectural and legal experience.

The news that Unilever is considering consolidating its HQ in Kingston is exciting positive news for the Town. However the proposals are for a tower almost as high as Tolworth Tower, with a second building almost matching the height of the new tower at Royal Exchange. All of these contravene clear planning guidelines. Together this cluster of tall buildings would overshadow important listed buildings, blight protected historic views and importantly cause significant harm to short range views and the related public realm by overbearing and dominating the surrounding streets and houses.

This presentation discusses the proposal for Eden Campus redevelopment as issued for public consultation and in particular it:–

Focuses on the Height, Mass & Density being suggested and how that would impact the Kingston skylineIdentifies the underlying Planning GuidelinesCompares the proposals with adjoining developments at Eden Walk and Royal Exchange (TOPO)Looks at Impacts on the Conservation Area Neighbourhood Suggests a way forward with alternative approaches suitable for achieving the same mix of prestigious Company HQ; residential development; car parking and; proper public realm space all in compliance with applicable Planning Guidelines and without ruining the Kingston skyline for future generationsUrges Residents to review the Consultation brief for themselves and make comments

Height, Mass & Density

1) Tall Buildings are limited to three locations defined by the ‘Eden Quarter Development Brief EQDB’ which Eden Walk and Royal Exchange ‘TOPO’ site largely comply with.

2) Three proposed buildings IGNORE height restrictions in Kingston Planning Documents
designed to protect our Historic Town

Planning Framework Ignored

3) Proposals seek to bulldoze planning guidance which has so far protected Kingston’s Heritage from the blight of an uncontrolled number and placings of Tall Buildings

4) These landmark views are identified in Planning Documents and are material considerations for any Planning Decision - see photos in Gallery

5) Proposals ignore Kingston’s plan for a new meaningful public space at Eden Square as set out in the EQDB

6) Public Space at ground level around the Tower is likely to be windswept and exposed to traffic pollution.The space in the centre, canyon-like and permanently in shadow

7) If these proposals are approved, then an unacceptable precedent will be established impacting the WHOLE of Kingston.

Compared to Eden Walk & Royal Exchange

How do the proposals compare to the Eden Walk and Royal Exchange (TOPO) approved developments?

8) Proposals would run roughshod over established planning controls with which BOTH Eden Walk AND Royal Exchange developments largely comply.

9) Eden Walk and Royal Exchange developments largely comply with the EQDB

10) Eden Walk and Royal Exchange developments largely comply with the EQDB

11) The Section drawing reveals the extent of overdevelopment across 3 of the 4 buildings proposed

12) Proposals would cause considerable harm - and make a mockery of the EQDB decision on where THE ONLY ‘landmark’ towers were intended to be

Impact on the Conservation Area Neighbourhood

13) The proposed 72m / 22 storey tower (over TWICE the height of current Lever House) will loom over WHOLE of adjacent Conservation Areas.

Alternative Ways Forward

There are other viable ways to develop this site.

14) Conflict with the EQDB could be avoided by simply adding a Basement Car Park, ie. as done in the Eden Walk development.

15) .........and creates opportunity to consider more thoughtful approaches post Covid,
post Grenfell and be more responsive to climate concerns

16) .........and creates opportunity to consider more thoughtful approaches post Covid,
post Grenfell and be more responsive to climate concerns

What can I do?

All Kingston residents are urged to view the digital exhibition for the proposed redevelopment of the Eden Campus for themselves at:-

Online comments closed on 24th August, but you can email your comments to the developers' consultation address: EdenCampus@communitycomms.co.uk.

Please do not lose this opportunity to let your views be known to both the developers and to your local councillors (contact details below). The Council should provide unambiguous guidance to the developers prior to any application being submitted.
The detailed Planning Guidelines are intended to AVOID a huge waste of time and effort from both sides. Our message to the Council is that the requirements of the EQDB MUST be followed – FULL STOP..... and they should send the Developers back to the drawing board.

Also Good:
Email your MPs & Councillors:

Your MPs
The Leader of Kingston Council
Director, Growth
Development Committee Members
Cllr Roy.Arora@kingston.gov.ukCllr Kim.Bailey@kingston.gov.ukCllr Mark.Beynon@kingston.gov.ukCllr David.Cunningham@kingston.gov.ukCllr Lorraine.Dunstone@kingston.gov.ukCllr Simon.Edwards@kingston.gov.ukCllr Lesley.Heap@kingston.gov.ukCllr Rebekah.Moll@kingston.gov.ukCllr Malcolm.Self@kingston.gov.ukCllr Stephanie.Archer@kingston.gov.ukCllr Dave.Ryder-Mills@kingston.gov.uk
Grove Ward Cllrs
Jon.Tolley@kingston.gov.ukFiona.Boult@kingston.gov.ukCllr Rebekah.Moll@kingston.gov.ukContact your Councillor

Other Cllrs & Other
Cllr Kevin.Davis@kingston.gov.ukCllr Sharron.Sumner@kingston.greenparty.org.ukLaurie@kingstonlabour.com


There are some healthy debates on issues raised by this proposal and by development in general. Here are some points we would like to add to this conversation.

1) Are Unilever definitely moving to Kingston?

Unilever have been a tenant on this site since 1973 and their lease runs for 99 years. In addition there is talk of Unilever moving their desks from other locations to consolidate their HQ in Kingston, but this is far from certain. Corporate relocation plans are subject to many considerations and are difficult to predict so we wouldn’t want to put any certainty on it. In any case this is a red herring because this is not a planning consideration.

2) Is what they are proposing actually a campus?

No. Calling the development “Eden Campus” creates a number of misleading impressions, Campus is “the grounds and buildings of a university or college.” - this proposal is neither. It gives the impression that the architecture reflects the needs of modern offices and residents – which it does not.

3) Is this proposal environmentally sustainable?

No. Demolishing and rebuilding concrete structures on the site will never be sustainable. Adding green walls and solar panels will never offset this huge initial environmental cost.

4) Is this cluster of towers part of the town plan?

No. Tall Buildings are limited to three locations defined by the ‘Eden Quarter Development Brief EQDB’. This site is not one of them.

5) Is their proposed landscaped public space at the Hogsmill significant?

No. The area at the Hogsmill river which appears in their drawings as a landscaped public realm is not under their ownership. According to the title deeds for the site, ownership ends at a fence line a few feet north of Lever House. Perhaps Kingston Council should make this boundary issue clear with the developers.

6) Post pandemic, Kingstons' high street is dying. Shops are empty. Why don't we welcome this as progress?

We are not against development on this site, on the contrary we actively encourage Council and owners of the site to do the best they can and bring more investment and revenue to our town. However are luxury Tolworth Tower blocks with unaffordable residences the answer?

This is a rare opportunity and we need to make the most of it. Unfortunately with the current design we are on course to end up with a poor solution that would be far more harmful than it needs to be. We can get the same benefits for the town without the harm and we openly offer alternative ways forward here.


Please contact us via kingstonresidentsalliance@gmail.com
or use the form below

Thank you

We appreciate your support.