Public storms out as councillors approve Tolworth Girls’ School expansion

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Tolworth Girls’ School (TGS) will be allowed to fund its expansion by selling land for more than 100 homes

Year 13 students Lottie Premm-Jones (left) and Jess Bush outside Guildhall ahead of last night's vote

Year 13 students Lottie Premm-Jones (left) and Jess Bush outside Guildhall ahead of last night’s vote

First published Thursday 11 June 2015 in News

Surrey Comet: Photograph of the Authorby Jon Sharman, Senior reporter – Surbiton + Chessington – 020 8722 6313

Councillors approved the plans last night but were split over concerns about traffic to the new homes from Fullers Way North, which is creaking under the strain of school runs, leisure centre users, resident parking and commuter rat-running.

Residents stormed out of Guildhall after the vote, having unsuccessfully raised fears over pollution and safety to sway the vote.

TGS headteacher Siobhan Lowe told the meeting that the homes were the only way to fund expansion, which will help meet the borough’s need for school places.

She added: “There is absolutely no public sector money available.”

Also approved, in a reversal of Kingston Council officers’ recommendations, were 32 new homes for Brighton Road in Surbiton, on the site of the old petrol station.

Councillors said the borough’s need for housing took precedence over creating more shops – included in alternative plans – even if the buildings themselves left something to be desired.

Coun Malcolm Self said: “I think the design lacks inspiration, to say the least. I do think it’s overdevelopment of the site.”

But it was not all plain sailing for developers: plans for a residential development at a former Dairy Crest depot were unanimously rejected, despite officers’ recommendations to approve it.

Fully half of the public gallery was taken up by a vocal contingent from the southern reaches of Kingston where, on the corner of Villers Avenue and Lower Marsh Lane, it was planned to build 83 maisonettes in four blocks next to a parade of shops.

One resident claimed that at night the lights from the buildings would be like “the spaceship from Close Encounters of the Third Kind”.

Coun Hugh Scantlebury suggested instead it might be like “having a cruise liner parked at the end of the road”.

The meeting was also told that, after Kingston Council rejected an original offer of zero affordable homes, developer Montagu Evans offered 13 shared ownership flats, or some 16 per cent of the total unit count.

The firm’s agent, Peter Bovill, said it had held an exhibition, created a website and delivered leaflets in order to consult with residents.

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