Kingston residents have voiced their disappointment after Kingston Council approved permission for a seven-storey development on 30 March.
The plans submitted to Kingston Council allow developer Aroch Ltd to replace the current buildings on 28-46 Cromwell Road with a seven-storey development that will provide 55 apartments, a nursery, and a community-use space.
Hardman Road residents, who live directly behind the site, raised concerns about increased congestion, the buildings’ excessive height and bulk, and loss of sunlight and privacy for neighbouring residents, as the building height will rise from 13 metres to 22 metres.
One resident said: “It’s going to completely overshadow us and enclose our garden with hundreds of balconies facing down on us.
“There’ll be people just peering their eyes through our gardens, it’s just horrible.”
The existing three-storey buildings previously hosted a Monkey Puzzle children’s nursery, the John Bunyan Baptist Church, student accommodation and the Kaleidoscope Project, a drug and alcohol recovery charity with an associated hostel.
The new housing will provide one studio, 14 one bedroom units, 22 two bedroom flats and 18 three bedroom apartments.
Of the apartments, nearly a quarter will be affordable housing, with nine at London Affordable Rent and four intermediate shared ownership units.
The proposals also includes 742 sqm for the replacement nursery, 243 sqm of community space, rooftop and ground floor green space, and a £750,000 contribution towards relocating the addiction-recovery hostel.
The Hardman Road residents stressed they would not have objected to the plans if they had stayed the same size as the existing buildings on site, which are one storey taller than the mainly two-storey neighbourhood.
One said: “We want it to be developed with humility, to reflect the neighbourhood and be at the same scale.”
Another resident, who has lived on the street for 40 years, is concerned about increased traffic on Hardman Road and the prospect of apartments over looking his property.
Kingston Council deferred the planning decision last October to allow developers to revise the plans to address residents’ and planning officers’ concerns.
Aroch Ltd representative Emma White, said: “We consulted, met with and corresponded with the Hardman Road residents extensively before the application was first submitted.
“We amended our scheme following that engagement, by reducing massing and adding various design features on the southern elevation that ameliorated the impact of the scheme on Hardman Road.
“Following the first committee and the deferral of our application, we amended the scheme by not only significantly changing the design but by reducing the massing and losing six flats. We maintained the number of affordable units, despite losing six market units.
“Before submitting the amended scheme, we consulted again with the Hardman Road residents. As I said on the evening of the second committee, we didn’t receive any comments from the residents. Instead, they chose to make their comments to the council officers directly.
“The reservations expressed by officers regarding design in the first committee report were changed entirely as a result of the changes we’ve made to our scheme since October and you will see the comments from officers which on virtually all fronts are positive.
“The amended scheme was given almost unequivocal support by officers and indeed we had a decision by members which comprised all members for our proposal and just one against.”
White added the development scheme will improve congestion on Hardman Road by providing space for three deliveries vehicles and for bin lorries to turn around, as they currently reverse the length of the road when leaving.
A report by Kingston planning officers acknowledged that the seven-storey development would cause a noticeable reduction in daylight levels for specific properties and a reduction in privacy for Hardman Road residents.
However, the report said the site’s urban location should be taken into account and considered the concerns not serious enough to justify refusing planning permission when the council cannot demonstrate a five year housing land supply.
One Hardman Road resident called for planning process reform, labelling the five minute time-limit for speeches at the Planning Committee meeting ridiculous.
He felt that the residents’ voices were not taken seriously during the planning permission process and suggested that they should have been allowed to use slides and images to present their case.
He added: “We’re there to raise our concerns but it’s never taken in as part of the judgment.”
Both residents said that the experience has affected how they will vote in the local elections this May.
Kingston Council did not respond to a request for comment.
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