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"Queen of the Surburbs-Improvement Strategy Consultation-Spring 2009" questionnaire

11 years ago...

I've just received this questionnaire from Kingston Council.

Surbiton town centre is a thriving and cherished area of the Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames. With its rich heritage of Victorian and Edwardian architecture and excellent rail connections to London and the South coast, it continues to justify its reputation as "Queen of the Suburbs".

Balancing the needs of 21st century, living within a road and architectural layout first drawn up in the 19th century, presents particular challenges. To consider these issues anfd the options for developing Surbition town centre to meet local needs, Kingston Council is preparing an "Improvement Strategy for Surbiton Town Centre" in partnership with Transport for London.

Consultants Halcrow ( and BurnNice ( have been engaged to develop a proposed strategy for improvements in Surbiton. The first stage of this process is to find out what local residents, businesses and other town centre users think about the key issues facing Surbiton Town Centre.

The consultation area includes 20 roads in and around the the town centre as well as wider users of the area, to capture as many views as possible.

The main aims of this strategy are to:
Improve the design and layout of the streets in Surbiton Town Centre
Improve footways and other pedestrian routes for all users
Improve access to Surbiton train station and its connection to local buses, walking and cycle routes
Identify development opportunities
Refine the location of parking and delivery bays
Preserve and enhance the character of the Conservation Area

Any measures that are subsequently approved would be introduced from 2010.

To me, I was initially encouraged that there was any discussion on improving the centre of Surbiton but when I read the main aims, I was disappointed. How about:
1) Offering preferential business rates for local businesses (encourage independent fishmonger, butcher, baker, greengrocer to setup shop)
2) Investing at the Sainsbury end of Victoria Road
3) Fewer coffee shops and estate agents


So basically we were misinformed at the consultation meeting..... Great!

I bothered to attend a consultation meeting about all of this sometime ago, the issue of the small block that houses Wilders & the kebab shop at the front of the station was raised; we were informed that too may be listed and therefore protected.
Edward, you make some good points re: the red stripes in some respects too! Although you haven't registered on at least you're not posting under the guise of anonymous as well.

The fried chicken shop / pawn shop / deli are not listed buildings, and never will be.
Unlike the train station or the fine victorian buildings on Victoria Street, they're of no architectural merit whatsoever.

I have no idea why they would wish to replace them though - an open vista would allow our station to dominate the streetscene. Its not as if they'er aren't enough alternative empty shops that the businesses could relocate to.

Read page 89 of the Surbiton Town Centre Strategy document for confirmation:

At present there are two options for the design of
the station forecourt: the fi rst retains the existing one
storey building, but suggests that the building itself is
refurbished (see Fig. 97).

The second option is to remove the building entirely,
as it is not listed and its architecture is of no particular
It should be replaced with two double-fronted
one storey buildings positioned either side of the main
axis of the station entrance which would frame the
station and greatly improve its setting. The buildings
would also frame the proposed public square (see
Fig. 98).

The new buildings should be of high quality design
that is sympathetic with the station architecture; the
combined fl oor space could be greater than the existing
building and as such add value to the area. On the
same axis could also be a large pedestrian crossing
over Victoria Road. Its positions would mean that it
was much safer for pedestrians to use as it would be
further away from the roundabout junction.

With you, 100 per cent! Those unsightly sheds just spoil the view of the crowning glory of Surbiton - our beautiful Station, which deserves to be cherished & seen.

I really can't see the point of replacing that excrescence with 2 buildings: this would simply have the effect of ENLARGING the obstruction to the view of the Staion, and restricting sight of the Station to ONE, somewhat random, "mid-point". Even though the present buildings are pretty grim, their slightly off-set position allows, at least, a decent view of the Station from Claremont Road: this would be lost if their Eastern end was to be shifted further East, to allow for the gap in the middle.

What we need is total, unimpeded, sight of our glorious art-deco masterpiece - from ALL angles. That will only be achieved by completely removing those ugly huts.

Looking from the other direction, the visitor to Surbiton would be greeted, on leaving the Station, with the splendid & unhindered sight of the line of Claremont Rd; the Clock Tower; the simple & pretty architecture of Lloyds & HSBC: & the charming Victorian terrace leading along Victoria Road. What a bonus!

Two little problems:

1. Aren't the lifts inside Surbiton Station located at the 'front' nearest to the taxi rank? If the taxi rank is going to be at 'rear' of station then how are disabled people supposed to get there from the platform?

2. If Maple road sees an increase of traffic due to Victoria Road becoming one-way then has any bright spark remembered the two schools in Maple road? There is going to be problems!

Surbiton station 'is' Surbiton. it is the best building in the area by a long way. I urge you all to consider this when looking for improvements. we have a fantastic 1930's example of architecture here and most of you dullards wander through it everyday without even noticing it. please dont alter the forcourt 'incase a child is knocked over' what an over reaction. The site of the fairways rolling in and out, infront of the station facade is the best thing in surbiton and the most original feature in the town

mess with it, the town will lose its identity and become another typical high st overloaded with street furniture. Pining for a cafe culture ? dear oh dear it will not exist in the UK because we simply dont have the climate.

p.s the red stripes on the road....who's brain child was that? that is where your kids are most vunerable.


The station is a grade 2 listed building, so no-one would ever dream of touching it. Nobody has ever proposed that.

By making a forecourt, the idea is highlight our superb station building, not to detract from it.

One of the options being considered in the current public consultation is to demolish the low quality single storey Victorian buildings to the front of the station - the ones containing the fried chicken joint and pawn shop.

One option in the current proposals is to replace them with two smaller buildings, with an open space between them.

At the consultation, I suggested to the Councillor and planners that it would make more sense not to replace them at all. Non-replacement would give a spectacular view of the complete station from Victoria Road, and, from the station, of the fine Victorian buildings on the northern side of Victoria Road.

The Cllrs and planners agreed, but told me that some conservationists argue that the single story buildings should remain solely because of their age. I don't accept that argument - the net gain of two impressive views clearly outweighs the loss of what amounts to little more than a glorified shed.

Most people I've talked to support the idea of improving the station forecourt to make it an attractive space. At the minute, the view of the station is obscured. The traffic is chaotic, with taxis, private cars, bikes and pedestrians all mingling together in an ill-defined space.
The junction at the pawn shop is effectively blind for pedestrians walking west.

The proposed scheme is a no-brainer improvement in my book.
Maybe the REAL DULLARDS are those who propose no change because that's the way things have always been.

Anyway, the good thing is that the council are very keen to get as much feedback as possible.
So, if you support the demolition of the fried chicken joint and pawn shop, or even if you don't, then leave your feedback at this address:

Leslie - I understand your concerns.

I really don't think, though, that the intention is to shift the taxi-rank to the "rear" of the Station. As I read the proposals, there would be a NEW "access road " to the Station forecourt - along the rear of the properties on the South side of Victoria Rd (from the "Sainsbury's car-park access road", left, and behind Woolworths. M&S, etc), entering the forecourt, through the cycle-park, behind Barclays & The Surbiton Flyer, to a drop-off point near the present photo-booth.

Fine - except that, in order to rejoin the queue for "pick-ups", taxis would have to leave the forecourt at The Surbiton Flyer, return along Victoria Rd (westbound), and re-enter the new access road. The effect would be that every taxi arriving from the east & north (St Mark's Hill, Claremont Rd/St Jame's Rd) would be making 2 trips along Victoria Rd (1, to reach the new Station access road; and 2, to rejoin the "pick-up" queue). The plus-point, of course, is that motor-vehicles are restricted to that western edge of the Station forecourt, leaving the remainder as a public, pedestrian, space.

On your 2nd point about Maple Road, I agree that an increase in traffic would be wholly unwise. However, I understand that the "Victoria Rd one-way Option" has already been discarded: if that's the case, then the effect on Maple Rd would be minimal.

It would, in any case, be foolish to embark on a one-way scheme. We NEED buses from BOTH directions to deliver passengers into the middle of Surbiton. The scope for additional car-parking spaces is limited: indeed, it would be irresponsible to encourage additional car-use - particularly when the area is splendidly served by bus & train services.

I saw the proposals on display today outside the old post office, and they do appear to be a good, fair & sensible compromise, so well done to the team that have taken on board all the issues and have come up with what appears to be a sensible solution.
The proposed crossings surrounding the roundabout look far more aesthetically pleasing than the painted red tarmac at present, but time will only tell if they 'work'.
The current red crossings are a bit neither here nor there, because it is not clear who has right of way (can anyone inform us if such marked crossings are in the latest version of The Highway Code?). I think that often things that are ambiguous can lead to more problems...... if someone (god forbid) was hit on one of those red 'crossings' who would legally be at fault? I think that at present they do appeal to the courteous nature of most drivers whilst allowing a bit of traffic flow (which we need to keep flowing for all sorts of reasons) so perhaps they again are on OK compromise.

All well & good to propose that traffic is 'controlled' so as to benefit residents of Surbiton if the residents of Surbiton are prepared to spend, spend & spend like never before to make up the shortfall from the non-residents whose trade would be lost or reduced!....... Unless you'd like to love in a ghost town that is..... All the shops are being closed down (to quote a famous song about urban decay!)

Personally I would advise against pedestrianisation, because in my experience these often become semi 'no go areas' at night, with youths hanging around that could be upto no good, or are a tad intimidating for some folk to say the least!
Unfortunately, in this country, pedestrianisation seldom seems to lead to the desired for 'cafe culture' effect in the evenings, but quite the opposite, so please be careful what you wish for!

Before everybody goes off on a typical anti-Council rant against all proposals, I think it is important that we all go and see the detailed plans first.
The plans are on display at the Surbiton festival tomorrow - in front of the station i think.

My first impressions are that the square in front of the station is a great idea. The traffic there is always chaotic, with taxis and private cars jostling for space. They make it difficult to cross outside the Surbiton Flyer as well - some day some child will be hit there by a vehicel coming out of the station forecourt. Taxis will still have direct access to the front of the station, so they can't say seriously cliam that they'd be adversely affected.

Creating a square would encourage teh back of the Surbiton Flyer to be developed into something more aesthetically pleasing. With direct access ontot he square, it could have tables to serve food / coffee. DST house could similarly be opened up on the other side.

Any attempt to make it easier for pedestrians to cross at the roundabout is also welcome.

The benefts of other changes aren't so apparent - all they may amount to is a bit of expensive repaving that looks good for a few years and then looks no different to what's in place now.

Did someone say:

"What could be better than having a first class ECO-ENVIRONMENTAL COMMUNITY LEARNING CENTRE right on our doorstep?"

I'll tell you what could be better: ANYTHING.

They need to knock Surbiton down and rebuilt it from scratch

That is exactly what should not happen. They should try to restore what is left of the original architecture and discourage traffic. That would allow Surbiton to cater better for the people that actually live there rather than those driving in from Berrylands, Thames Ditton and Tolworth.

Surbiton should be the perfect commuter town - fast trains, quite a lot of character, ok local shops with plentiful green space and the facilities of Kingston within easy walking distance. Surely it can't take that much to get us there.

"original architecture" Ok but not in Victoria Road, which [I guess] is the centre of this rejuvenation project. My comments on the RBK website target ..

The ‘crappy’ boarded up shops, neglected for well over ten years

Solve the constant flow of traffic in Victoria road by making it a pedestrian zone (it worked in Guildford, trade was up ten fold)

The annoying noise from the trains blowing their warning horns

The filthy pigeon inhabited rail bridge (beside the YMCA) where only a liquid proof overcoat could prevent the consequence of the bird sheeters overhead (umbrella didn’t work)

Re the YMCA, I’ll say nothing as will erase this post! (did it already happen? .. say boo someone)

Remove or regulate the excessive estate agents
Remove or regulate the excessive charity shops
Remove or regulate the excessive coffee shops

Sort out that mess beside the river that was once the filer beds, turn it into a community centre (to challenge Sapphires want for a better life on the ait)

Finally, vote SAPPHIRE for the next Kingston and Surbiton local elections (we need a laugh)

I actually think that Victoria Road has quite a lot of original architecture. The frontage of the buildings above a lot of the shops is Victorian, and looks very nice when properly maintained as it has been on the buildings opposite the station. Granted, it is not stunning, but it has a character that is missing in most town centres these days. There is ugly infill (e.g. M&Co), but I don't see this as a reason to neglect the rest.

I agree with all of your suggestions (apart from pedestrianising Victoria Road), but the shops will be a problem. The only reason that there are boarded up shops is that there are not enough businesses willing to pay to move into Surbiton because of it's proximity to Kingston. The excessive estate agents, charity shops and coffee shops are not ideal, but I think that it is a choice between these and more boarded up shops.

The long term solution is reducing commercial rents to make it viable for independent businesses to set up in places like Surbiton, but I think that this will be done through the market over a long period rather than through a local improvement programme like this.

The filter beds are a massive priority, in my opinion. This could be a fantastic local resource, but instead has been left to become an eyesore.

Anyone for "WHIFF-WAFF"?
I thank you for your nomination, but I am only a three year old child in a stroller who enjoys her walks by the river with her Mummy & Daddy.

Well suited for local politics then

I agree with Anon, Surbiton needs a TRUE IDENTITY. What could be better than having a first class ECO-ENVIRONMENTAL COMMUNITY LEARNING CENTRE right on our doorstep? Just a Stones throw across the River Thames. A PROJECT like this could really bring CHARACTER to the area & UNITE all walks of the Local Community TOGETHER as ONE.

Raven's Ait Has No Roads Nor Polluting Traffic,
Wouldn't It Be Nice If,
When Ever The Fancy Took US,
WE (The Entire Community) Could,
From Time 2 Time,
Escape From The Rat Race,
To This Tranquil Idylic Beauty Spot,

Just A Thought People.

Rat race, Surbiton?

Sleepy Hollow more like.

Why not erect a giant Tepee on the Island and wait for the flying saucer to beam all the crusties up when thay have gathered.

I know what you mean, these claims are getting a bit boring, arent they? It makes it sound like the residents of Surbiton are living below the poverty line with no open green space to roam in and facilities to utilise. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth, but that won't keep these freeloaders in a free home for as lond, will it?

I read that one of the proposals was to make Victoria Road one way. Which road/s would then bear the brunt of increased traffic? Maple road? I hope not. There was much talk of traffic congestion and very little mention of bikes and additional provision for bikes. How about easy access over the railway lines, currently an effective barrier to most cyclists. As usual the survey was weighted towards standard solutions with very little joined up thinking.

Yes, it would be Maple Road that would suffer. The only time I ever see Maple Road blocked with traffic is when there is a Macdonalds delivery lorry selfishly blocking half of Victoria Road. If Victoria Road was made one way, Maple Road would suffer at rush hour, as would the already busy Portsmouth Road.

As I live between the two, I would be voting against these proposals. Apart from anything else, one-way systems almost always ruin a town centre - Kingston was a much more pleasant place to drive in before they put the one way system in that has done little to improve traffic flow at rush hour.

Sadly its probably too late for Surbitons Victoria Road,shops are closing and more must follow as financial pressures begin to bite and we haven't even got into the recession proper yet.

Parking is hopeless with the exception of Waitrose with 2 hours free.Shopping locally is difficult and heaving bags around on buses already crammed with free pass holders would be impossible.

The station needs massive development to provide a multi story car park over the tracks and above the current site.

One cannot "fix" the market by restricting what type of shop should be allowed to trade,natural selection will weed out those agents and coffee shops that do not provide the services required,I do however agree totally that business rates need to be reduced and the derelict shops referred to are compulsorily purchased,they have been an eyesore for some years and I am surprised nothing has been done to address that problem as I moved out of Surbiton some years ago but still retain a soft spot for what it could have become.

Face it chaps Surbiton is a commuter ghetto not helped by the low lifes at the YMCA;it will need men and possibly women of vision within the local council to wrest control from the nightmare that is the L/Dem admin and get to grips with the Tesco/Hospital/Schools and transport debate and god help you----The Rose.

I definitely agree with your idea of offering preferential business rates to desirable businesses, and by desirable I mean anything that is not an Estate Agent or chain restaurant. Along with most high streets in the country, Surbiton's Victoria Road is dying on it's feet in this recession, so we cannot afford to be too picky!

The Sainsbury's end of town definitely needs to be smartened up, starting with the two shops next to the old post office that have been derilct for 10 years or more. These have dragged that end of the town down, and I have often wondered if the council would be within their rights to acquire these by compulsory PO from the current landlord.

Deliveries to shops and businesses should also be better regulated. I have lost count of the number of times that I have walked out of the station to find Victoria Road totally blocked because a McDonalds HGV is making a delivery and blocking half the road during the middle of the day. Businesses should be forced to use smaller vehicles, or deliver with th larger ones at off-peak times.

For me, a lot of the improvement would be about traffic management. Surbiton town centre has a very small but densely populated 'catchment area', so I think that driving and parking should be discouraged.

Most of the people coming to Surbiton to shop will be coming from less than a mile away (otherwise it would be quicker/easier to go to Kingston, Tolworth or Esher), so there is really very little excuse to drive. Exceptions should be made for the elderly or disabled, but otherwise I think that there should be very few parking bays on Victoria Road and Claremont Road. Those coming into shop at supermarkets will continue to use those car parks.

I saw an example of this over-reliance on the car the other day. As I walked down North Road, a young guy walked out of his flat and got into his car outside. When I got onto Victoria Road a minute later, I noticed the same car parked outside McDonalds. When I walked back down North Road about 10 minutes later the car was parked back outside the flat. I am no 'environmental warrior', but this really is beneath contempt!

Not so sure I agree with you on the parking. Your last paragraph does highlight that many people do not like walking. Taking away the parking bays could see more shops close.

I suppose you are right, but I do think it is something that we have to get away from in towns like Surbiton. I would have thought a very high percentage of car journeys made in this area could be classed as unnecessary, and quite a few (like the one I mentioned above) are just ridiculous.

I do agree that there is no real solution to the problem - taking away paking bays could kill off shops, as could the local congestion charging that is often talked about for the Kingston area. Increasing the duty on fuel further would penalise peopl making legitimate (longer) journeys more than the people who use their cars to drive 200 metres.

The aim of 'Preserving or enhancing the conservation area' has been responsible for delaying or stopping numerous development opportunities in the Victoria Road area in recent years. What conservation area are the conservation department trying to preserve? It was ended when the Sainsbury/YMCA building terrace was built, along with the red brick office block next to the jeweller and the white brick Costa building. Waheed Towers on the former sorting office finished it off. If you are trying to do a nice development scheme the conservation department can really give you serious agg. They have more flaming hoops than Billy Smarts Circus that they can make you jump through. Even when they get their way it's a failure, look at the hideous copper drum atop the chinese on the corner of Maple and Brighton. Queen Victoria would not have put up with that!
Shops look good when their is a common shopfront design, Burlington Arcade, the butchers and deli in Claygate type of thing. Ban garish bright coloured aluminium with perspex illuminated signs. Also ban Bronx style roller shutters. Now that the YMCA inmates have all become gentrified by living amongst us the shop windows are safe at night. I also think that larger ashtrays are needed outside the Vic and Coronation Hall plus Pitbull Leash rings. What can be done to encourage the tattooed Pit Bull owners to set their dogs on the 'Chuggers'?
In the last recession we reached 14 charity shops. In the boom 23 estate agents. The smart money is now on 18 coffee shops for the depression.

Give me a coffee shop any day over a charity shop ;-)

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