Surbiton News?

17 years ago...

Does anyone have any intelligence on what is to become of the recently deceased Somerfield (RIP)?

Or what restaurants/cafés/shops might move into the swankily named Surbiton Plaza?



I am very intersted in your comments about a clothes shop in Surbiton. I would love to be able to get off the train and be abale to have a noodle in a little good quality fashion boutique like Inwear/Part 2/Matinique. Call me middle aged ( I'm 31!) but I could really do with a handy store where I can pick up items of clothes for work and casual wear without having to drag myself around the Bentall Centre. Surbiton Should be growing. It should be able to sustain a womens fashion boutique taht's not a charity shop or a cheap chain. Any thoughts?

You would think that an affluent town like Surbiton could support a few boutiques or even a decent Italian deli, wouldn't you. But in the 30 odd years I have lived around here I have witnessed the decline in independent shops at the expenses of the multiples. I guess it's all to do with soaring business rents and being in the shadow of Kingston. But Teddington is just the other side of Kingston bridge and has always maintained a healthy variety of independent shops, so I dunno. Anyone else with any thoughts?

Its also interesting how Teddington's shops are maintained in a much more attractive way.
No tacky gariah plastic signs there - instead there is a real effort on the part of the shops to maintain the Victorian frontages, with painted wooden signs.

No modern aluminium shop frontages either.
Its all very tasteful in comparison to surbiton, which is allegedly a conservation zone, but where in practice, anything goes.

Also, has anybody else noticed that there seems to be an explosion of coffee shops / cafes /restaurants - how are real shops meant to survive maongst all this?
Isn't there a planning policy against this sort of thing, to try and maintain Surbiton as a shopping centre.

The difference between Surbiton and Teddington is in the distance to Kingston. Both are close, but Surbiton is within a 15 minute walk of Kingston town centre, and for people who find that too much, there is a bus literally every 2-3 minutes.

Teddington must be at least a 45 minute walk with one bus every half an hour. This is just enough to allow a good local shopping centre to thrive there, with residents only needing to go to Kingston occasionally. Teddington is in the shadow of Kingston, wheras Surbiton is almost part of Kingston itself.

I personally go into Surbiton quite a lot, even though Kingston is only 5 minutes further walk for me. It is much quicker to get banking and essential shopping done than it is in Kingston.

I agree about the tacky shopfronts. Even the big chains (Woolworths, Boots etc) seem to make very little effort in maintaining their stores in 'B' shopping locations like Surbiton. A lot of the buildings above the shops at the station end of the high street are very nice, so I would hope it could be returned to something quite attractive in the future.

You're kidding right? There's a mint to be made there ... you could sell train tickets and you'd have plenty of foot-fall ...
Surbiton Station Q

I see that the entire Surbiton Station booking hall is now up for lease sale/redevelopment. Expressions of interest are now being invited, and suggested uses are retail/leisure/restaurant. They even refer to it as the FORMER booking hall!!!!!
I assume this is part of the grand plan to develop the large rear car park into a multi-storey, and to re-site the ticket office there.
Could this be a tragedy unfolding?

I would be delighted if I was mistaken. Somebody please wake me from my nightmare!

this is for the disused ticket office side, not the active side, would be interested to know when it stopped being used as a ticket office

I would imagine that it ceased use quite some time ago as even the ticket booths at the top of the stairs on that side seem quite old.

I can't see many businesses being prepared to pay £40k p.a. to open a restaurant or similar overlooking a car park and the hideous Glenbuck House council block. It will be amde even more unattractive if they are going to spend the next few years turning the station car park into a multi-storey and flats.

Additionally, foot-fall may be a problem. I have lived in Surbiton for over 10 years and have used the station most working days - I have been over to that side of the station twice, and would imagine a lot of people would be in the same position.

Excellent news sounds an ideal site for yet more coffee shops which are even more unwelcome than estate agents.

Why not let the market decide and throw open the site to tender with the proviso that potential access to the Plaza should remain,sadly any floral feature will be destroyed by the rock apes from the YMCA.

Have just wandered down Surbiton High Street and was surprised that just past the Plaza development going towards the YMCA,there are a couple of derelict buildings with a tree growing out of the structure.

Is there someone in the local authority in a position to find out who owns these and make a compulsory purchase order to demolish and rebuild them?

The street is a terrible mess and with derelict buildings facing the street it is only going to get worse.

I believe that the people behind Surbiton Plaza have their beady little eyes on them for the next phase of their development programme. Predictably some locals are objecting because it will destroy two Victorian properties. But they have been in a state of dilapidation for years and are well past the point of saving.

The Plaza phase 2 plans are to replace them with two small shops, both
in independent non-joined buildings

I've a couple of comments on this aspect of the plans:

1. If we are to suffer the loss of two original shops from Victoria
Road, then I think that one large shop should be build to replace them.
This larger shop could contain premises that need extra space but can't
afford Kingston rents, eg furniture / kitchen /bathroom showrooms.

There are already many empty small shops in Surbiton centre - there's
plainly little demand for many more.
As said before, if estate agents move out as predicted over the next ten
years, Surbiton will become a ghost town.

On the other hand, if small shop demand was to pick up, one large unit
could always easily be split into two.

2. Any replacement shop should have a much higher quality facade than
either the current or the replacement as shown on the plans.

3. The plans propose to develop the shops right to the same position as
the current shops.
An opportunity exists to push the shops back in line with the post
office, widening the pavement and giving room for seats, flowerbeds, or
something like that.

4. This phase gives develoeprs an opportunity to widen the narrow
alleyway created in phase 1 to give access to the new shops at the rear
of the Plaza development.
The failure to widen this alleyway to something approaching a proper
pedestrian walkway a. heightens the chances of the plaza shops at the
rear being a failure , and b. wastes the opportunity to develop central
surbiton in future.

Totally agree. If shops smarten up their image, more people will want to shop in Surbiton, rather than just going to Waitrose.

If you look at places like Chiswick, it proves that 'B' shopping centres can still be attractive places with wooden shop fronts and a bit of effort put into window displays. Clearly, Surbiton is no Chiswick, but the way it is going, it could end up more like Shepherds Bush.

Funny that Chiswick was mentioned since I've always thought that Victoria Road could be a mini Chiswick High Road. Perhaps, extremely wishful thinking though Brighton Road/Maple Road probably offers a good variety but it does seem really strange that very little has changed on Victoria Road in the last few years apart from the influx of coffee chains.

It's the real lack of variety of shops that makes it frustrating. Relatively high rents mean few independents can afford it (Maple Road/Brighton Road) while most of the chains are catered for in Kingston. Still, I am surprised that we don't see a baby Gap/Mothercare type store.

I was disappointed when the Bakers Oven (ironically owned by Greggs) closed since I preferred it to Greggs. I just wish Martins was replaced by WHSmith but there is little profit margin in newsagent/bookstores.

Shepherds Bush will be transformed by the massive new Westfield complex due to open at the end of this year. (

No wonder the old money is moving out and flogging their back gardens for development,it sounds as if the whole place is being taken over by chavs and yummy mummys.

Big fan of Surbiton and endorse many of the positive comments here.

A ZiZi would do very well. Let's embrace it.

I have lived in Surbiton for 10 years and I cannot believe the shortage of quality places to eat and drink. When you look at the success of Gordon Bennet's and the French Table you would think that restarauteurs would wake up and invest. I agree that the downturn is not good for the catering trade but look at the disposable income in the area.

The potentially good news is that Bosco's is about to open and my wife tells me, she works in the trade, they are going to copy the food style of the Anchor and Hope in Waterloo. BTW the A&H is a gastropub of the highest standard serving wholesome British style food.

Fingers crossed!

I agree. Kingston has all of the chain restaurants (ranging from good to poor), and a few nice individual ones.

A lot of the chains are unlikely to move to Surbiton as it is only a mile away, and this should give the opportunity for independent ones to open and thrive.

Surbiton should be pretty much the ultimate place to open in terms of demographic - plenty of relatively well-off commuters, without the children and huge mortgages that people in the stockbroker belt a little further out have to afford.

That said, it appears you have to get the mix just right. Gordon Bennett seems busy every night of the week, but Rubicon struggles to get anyone in at all Sunday to Wednesday evenings.

There have been some other attempts at decent restaurants - Loco for example did not last long and I was always amazed when I walked past on Friday and Saturday nights and the place was nealy empty. GB and the French table have carved out a niche, I like both.

I think half the problem with Surbiton is that most poeple work in London, and if you go out for a decent meal it's better to go somewhere after work in town, on the way home.

When you get back to Surb. it's a quick couple in the pub and home.

Id love to see Surbiton start bulding a reputation for decent restaurants. Kingston to shop, Surbiton to eat would be the vision.

Hope Bosocs goes well - I also walked past yesterday and it does look like a big improvement on what we have so far.

I think that some new restaurants in Surbiton would persuade people to come back from town to eat. I work in London, and eat there a lot, but it is nicer to get the journey done first.

There is nothing worse than having a nice meal, and then having to get the tube and train back to Surbiton. It is ok if you are eating in the direct vicinity of Waterloo, but otherwise you are looking at a 45 minute journey after leaving the restaurant.

I would prefer to eat in Surbiton a bit more in the week, but Gordon Bennett is always too busy unless you get back by about 6pm. There are a couple of nice Italian, Indian and Chinese offerings, but nothing else that offers varied menu.

I walked by yesterday and had a peek inside - it looks very stylish.

Much more inner london contemporary styling than the bland suburban styling we're used to in restaurants out here.

Incredible but true. Apparently.

I've heard from a fairly reliable source that the other half of scummy Martins IS going to be a Costa coffee shop. Yes, yes. I know. We alread have one a few yards further down the road. But hey, you can never have too much of a good thing, can you? And you know the old Ritechem a few shops down? Well you're not going to like this. It's to be a Subway (the sandwich chain, not an underground tunnel, tho' the latter might be a better option).

The Queen of the Suburbs just gets classier and classier, eh.

I find it really strange that Costa would open two outlets in a town as small as this, but then they have at least 5 in Kingston! I would have thought a Cafe Nero would have been a better bet.

I am not a fan of all of these coffee shops (I don't drink coffee!), but at least they are reasonably smart and do not attract too many chavs.

AWFUL news about Subway if that is true. They try to market themselves as a healthy fast food alternative to the burger chains, but in reality there is not much difference. The clientele seems to be even more dominated by mouth-breathers as well, at least in Epsom which is the only branch I have been into.

Look forward to even more litter in Victoria Road.

This is a shame as I went into the new Ritechem on the weekend, and I was impressed with the fit and finish achieved. A few more shops like this could transform Victoria Road. Subway etc will take it further downhill.

In response the the question regarding the left hand portion of Martins Newsagent, the planning appliation on the RBK website seems to suggest that it will be a Cafe Nero, not a Costa. If you've never used them before, try using the ISIS maps. You might even learn a little about the history of your area:

Just check out the local phone boxes and look at iffy ads in the Surbiton area and you will find many "massage parlours" convienient for the A3 and station etc.

No idea how many are involved but it is carrying on an historic tradition dating from when the permanent way was routed to Surbiton instead of KIngston.

Does anyone know what the restaurant will be next to the weatherspoons, it looks like the exterior for a wagamamas?

It's actually going to be a hotel/restaurant called Hotel Bosco. I'm not sure what nationality it will be but I'm guessing Italian. A strange location, eh, next to a timber yard and diagonally opposite Surbiton's most chavvy pub. I wish them luck.

I wish them luck and hope they have good security or else they will find the ladies of the night installed as it is so convienient for the station.

So where do these 'ladies' currently operate from in Surbiton?

I agree. The only slight plus side about the location is the proximity to the station. Wetherspoons and St Marks Tavern are distinct downsides.

I just wanted to say that I was living in Surbiton for 3 years and loved it so much (apart from the drunk who attacked me outside the ymca) but unfortunatly I had to move back to the USA due to the increasing cost of living and cost of rent in that area...but I do hope one day to return to surbiton because if I was given one place in the world to live it would be surbiton it has a great sense of community almost a village feel to me and my children love going to SASM school, Maple road was beautiful. RM

It is great to hear about people enjoying Surbiton. I have lived here for 12 years now, and would not move anywhere else.

I was disappointed to hear that a plan to knock down 3 detached houses and build 21 flats on Maple Road has been approved. I think that the development of Maple Road so far has been a rare triumph for Kingston Council - It is so varied, and I can't think of anywhere else where schools, bars, restaurants, shops and houses/flats work together so well in such a pleasant environment. This could quickly be ruined by the addition of yet more flats, though.

With the credit problems yet to hit the UK consumer in a meaningful way it would seem the hight of folly to open either a clothes shop or a run of the mill Italian restaurant in an area like Surbiton which will feel the downturn more than most areas due to the very high "buy to let" and heavily mortgaged younger population.

I guess the Plaza developer is panicking and offering below market rates to get retailers etc in.

About the only shop that may do well in 2008/9 would be a pawn shop as the marginal propensity to consume collapses under the personal debt mountain.


I agree, the current credit crunch will affect everyone to some degree, and much more than people on the street expect. I disagree (in part) that 'Surbiton which will feel the downturn more than most areas due to the very high buy to let'.

From a tenants point of view, renting is very much cheaper than buying now. In my own case, I can either continue to rent or if I wanted to buy the place I rent, put down a £70,000.00+ deposit (about 2 years salary) and rent from the bank with an interest only mortgage (paying them interest at the same level as my current rent). Also as a tenant, I don't have any buildings costs, if something goes wrong the landlord pays for it to be fixed.

It really shows how out of kilter things are.

However the credit crunch will affect those with loans and/or mortgages. With falling yields, higher interest rates tied to the libor and possibly very soon falling house prices, I wouldn't like to be a landlord at the moment.

The best advice I can give for anyone planning to rent, is ask: When did the landlord buy the property? If the answer is in the last couple of years, I'd personally avoid renting it.

Back to the Surbiton Plaza... anyone know the postcode/address of the development, I've looked on searching for "plaza surbiton" ( and not found any sales yet.

However I'm looking forward to an over supply of property to rent and downward pressure on rental prices :o)

Happy New year everyone (*)


(*) apart from the YMCA and its (for a better word) inmates who threw something from one of the windows at me as i went past tonight.

Surbiton Plaza is actually on St Marys Road, but a search on that site only seems to show prices for St Marys Road in Long Ditton.

Sorry to hear about the YMCA incident. I was actually walking along Maple Road last night after a week away from Surbiton over Christmas, and thinking how nice and quiet/relaxed it was. I try never to walk past the YMCA as it makes my angry just to see the people hanging around outside.

Good points well made.

Its probably an age gap thing but when I think of young it is 35/45 and many of these folks are buy to let investors who cannot get a return if they have bought recently,a rent of £700/£850 for a one bedroom,assuming full occupancy,barely covers outgoings.

You may well be content to wait for the distressed auction sales of flats in the area to hit the auction houses.

Following on from this, I have to say that new M&Co is a bit rubbish, can anyone see it lasting long? I've passed it numerous times now and not once would I ever say it was busy, or even had more than three or four people in. Now, I understand the shop's not aimed at me, but surely, given staffing costs, rent, utilities etc... there is no way it can be making money there, the rent for such a big site must be huge.

So am I right in saying Burger King and Zizzi are moving into the new Surbiton plaza? I wish I could move in there (if only for Burger King...), have you seen how much the places cost?? I guess that's just the world we live in.

Sainsbury's is better now too, but why place the exit ticket barrier at the bottom of the slope? Just to add more stress to bemused motorists in the event of not validating the fancy new plastic card correctly? That poor attendant has to walk all the way down. You could probably park there for free for evermore, they're unlikely to make you (and anyone behind you) reverse all the way up the slope to sort it out...

I agree that M&Co seems a bit rubbish. A large store in Surbiton will be cheap compared to a large town like Kingston, but you still need a reasonable amount of demand.

My understanding is that Zizzi will be moving into Surbiton Plaza INSTEAD of Burger King. I would be very surprised if BK open uo in Surbiton so soon after closing down their Kingston place.

I agree the plans and visuals dont look bad.

Sadly the Ewell road will be unable to function when all up and running as almost impossible now to turn right into Ewell from Red Lion and with 69 new homes or 138 addl cars it can only get worse.
Now is the time for Tfl to get a grip and red route the whole of Ewell road and remove bus lanes and obstacles and remodel it for the major artery that it is in linking the A3M to Kingston.

Landmark my bottom - just because of a bit of curtain walling at the corner?
It looks like a late eighties office block.
I just love the way developers trumpet every identikit suburban development as being a new landmark building.

Imo, a very bland, yet visually oppressive design - just look at those brutish square balconies.
How can a four story block, developed right to the edge of the plot, even come close to being a sensitive design to replace the graceful two story building that stands there now.
Compare this architecture to the fine featured victorian villas along the road.

Oh and I love the new technique of getting residents to give their feedback to the developers rather than the planners like they should:
"If you wish to comment on the proposal, please email or insert your comments in the space provided below and return this page to:"
Whats the betting Mr and Mrs Gullible of Red Lion Road get their comments filed under bin.

The Surbiton Plaza construction company are hitting Tolworth now too:

Apparently a hotel planned for the Tolworth broadway area too.

The plans don't look too bad. My only question would be about who they are going to let all of that retail space to? Tolworth has got quite a number of empty shops and a lot more charity/fast food places.

Another hotel seems a bad idea. Up until a couple of years ago, Kingston only had the Antoinette and the one on Kingston Hill.

Now there are two Travelodges (Kingston and Tolworth), and proposed hotels on St Marks Hill, Portsmouth Road (Holiday Inn), and a massive one in Kingston town centre.

Surely the demand cannot be this great? Kingston is not a very big office centre, so the only demand will be from business people staying here on the way up to London, or people staying over after going to weddings etc in the area.

Perhaps the council are going to start marketing Kingston as a tourist area?!?!

The Thai restaurant in Tolworth (opposite M&S) is far better than any in Kingston and is run by a lovely family.
And another vote for the fish 'n' chip shop by the Wok.

Oh how I love Siam Gallery in Esher!

Yep, Zizzi aren't a bad chain.

They'll certainly give some of the lazier, behind the times restaurants a good kick up the bottom.
I don't think that the French Table have anything to fear tho'.

What about that new hotel beside Wetherspoons? Anybody any word on what's going in there?
They were advertising the lease of the downstairs bit as a stand alone restaurant.


Where did you see the lease advertised?

I hadn't realised that was a hotel. The area is going to go from having virtually no hotels to too many at this rate, what with the Holiday Inn going up on Portsmouth Road as well as the big one planned in Kingston.

It will be good if they put a nice restaurant/bar there, though. That end of the High Street is very sparse. The only decent thing there is the Magic Wok, and it is certainly not helped by neighbours like St Marks Tavern and Wetherspoons.

I don't want to see Surbiton turned into a clone town, but I really think that these types of developments will do good things for Victoria Road. Surbiton is a fantastic area to live, but needs a bit of a push to reach it's full potential.

I've only been in the Magic Wok once, but I'd have it in my list of tired / dated restaurants that could do with a kick up the bottom.

I can't remember the food as being anything other than ordinary, and both the interior and exterior decor are definately stuck in an early eigthies timewarp.

Its a good sized restaurant tho' and would be a great spot for a trendy Thai.
With all the restaurants in Surbiton, I'm pretty surprised we have to travel into Kingston or out to Hinchley Wood for a real Thai restaurant.

I have not been to the Magic Wok since the Chinese restaurant on Brighton Road open - better food, cheaper and a much more modern restaurant.

The problem for Thai restaurants is that they have to compete with all of the pubs serving Thai food - The Antelope and Surbiton Flyer are two more who have recently started doing this. It is a shame as it is much nicer to eat in a proper restaurant, but Thai seems to be turning into pub food around here.

Two good Thai restaurants to try locally are the Siam Gallery in Esher and the one at the foot of Kingston Hill (name escapes me at the moment)

the new fish n chip shop is very good opposite weatherspoons

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