Why are Kingston Council and greedy developers STILL determined to ruin Surbiton?

13 years ago...

I noticed a few weeks ago that three large 1920s houses on Maple Road had been sold for 'development'. There was no movement for a while, so I assumed that the developer had thought better of the original plan to build 21 flats on the site given the current economic downturn.

Over the weekend, I noticed that they had started to remove the roof tiles from the houses.

I love the Maple Road area, but there is no doubt that it suffered during the 1970s-80s with quite a number of concrete slab fronted blocks of flats going up. Up until now, I still think it has retained a nice feel, with its mix of flats, average looking houses and some remaining fantastic looking houses.

This development will push that part of the road 'over the edge' as it will just become a mish-mash of ugly blocks with none of the original houses to break it up.

It also has implications on the infrastrucure in the area - bringing another 21 households into an already crowded part of town.

I have nothing against flats - I live in one myself and they represent ideal accomodation for a lot of people that live in central Surbiton, but building too many results in overcrowding and removal of the character and identity that Surbiton has left.

Do the council not have any power to stop these developments any more?


Just a brief note as the subject matter cuts across this threads theme
I have posted an update on the development of Claremont Hall and its new use on the Claremont Hall forum.

There is no doubt that the developers will get burnt by this one, they missed the boat by a year or so.

The site was sold by the church, who will have wanted top dollar for it. Prices have come down so significantly that you can already buy 2 bed flats in Surbiton for £200k now. I can't see people paying more than that now for a 1 bedder, Maple Road or not.

Everyone seems to expect this downturn will get worse before it gets better, so what value will these flats have when they are complete next year.

The only people that I feel sorry for are the people that will lose their jobs when the greedy developers go bust or make cutbacks.

It is a lose/lose situation - the people of Surbiton get stuck with another eyesore block of flats, and the developers lose money on the deal.

The planning application can be viewed on the RBK website here if anyone's interested:


It is not the ugliest block in the world, but 4 storeys instead of 3 is just greedy. The problem is with blocks like this going up all of the time, planners will not be able to refuse applications for not 'being inkeeping with the local area as there will be none of the original buildings left soon.

The developers are going to take a bit of a hit on this. I bet they had budgeted on selling the 1 bed flats at £275k each, and the 2 beds for £350k. They probably would have done so last year, but by the time they get these built, the prices are more likely to be £200k and £275k maximum. That brings their total revenue down from £6.3m to £4.7m for a start. Once you add in the build costs, I doubt they will be making much more than the £2m that those 3 houses would have probably sold for even in their dilapidated state.

I just hope they do not try to economise on the finish in order to recoup some of the cash. The flats that have been built at the corner of Surbiton Crescent and Surbiton Road are an absolute disgrace, looking like something built in the USSR in the 1960's. It would be a shame to have something of this quality on Maple Road:


Surbiton is now becoming flat land and most of the new build were/are being bought to let which often means quite a big turnover, people become transient thus changing the residential mix with less people willing to care about the neighbourhood. At the moment there are hundreds of new flats for sale and now less buy to let buyers but the flats are too highly priced for most first time buyers. We are told Surbiton/Kingston need more 3/4 bedroom houses but more and more flats for professional people are being planned

To be fair, the central part of Surbiton has been dominated by flats for many years. A lot of them are conversions which are a bit kinder to the fabric of the area, but obviously add to the overcrowding as much as purpose built ones.

Kingston is in an even worse state - 1000s of new flats and it hasnt even got a decent mainline station for commuting or any large businesses that will pay people the sort of salaries required to buy these new flats.

I like the fact that Surbiton has quite a lot of flats as it attracts young professionals to the area, which in turn drives the opening of decent bars/restaurants and shops. There has to be a mix, however, and the shortage of houses in Surbiton is driving families out to Beyylands, Tolworth etc. Surbiton risks becoming like more central parts of London - all 20 and 30 somethings with hardly any families at all.

Surbiton could soon start to be viewed by people as a temporary place to live for 5-6 years before moving on to somewhere nicer. Surbiton is traditionally a nice leafy suburb where people would look to settle down and spend many years.

I still think that the biggest risk is that a downturn leaves Surbiton high and dry, and it becomes an undesirable place to live overnight because it has not got the housing stock that people require.

Simple, this will bring in an additonal 21 council tax payers

That should just about pay for these greedy overweight, lazy sids pensions

I totally agree and I have been trying to stop houses being knocked down and flats put in place. I am currently involved in commenting on a few developments and we have had some success in stopping original plans so that the eventual ones are smaller. However it requires many more people to keep an eye out and comment on the plans which are all accessible from the Kingston Planning website. The infrastructure in Surbiton I am convinced will collapse soon unless the rise of over development is curtailed. Unfortunately the way planning applications are assessed is individually not as a total in a given area. Once a developer has got the density increased the next developer uses that as a benchmark making it harder for councillors to refuse the application.

I wish that I had noticed the plans for this one earlier. I will definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for other similar developments to object to.

I don't think that the council are planning for the future. Up until the 1960's, it would have been a comfortable suburban area, but the population must have at least doubled in the 40-50 years since then.

I know that this is happening everywhere, but the density is so high here. If you look at Esher, for example, there is a bit of 'garden grabbing' going on, but this is offset by people knocking down 1/2 houses and building one bigger one. You could only dream of this happening in Surbiton now, but go back 50 or so years and they would have fairly similar neighbourhoods. Now, they could not be more different.

When was the last time a house was built in central Surbiton? The nearest I can think of are the new townhouses on the Rising Sun site on Villiers Avenue.

Flats satsfy the current demand, but what happens in 5-10 years time? If we suffer the economic meltdown that a lot of people are predicting who is going to want all of these flats? The people that are not too badly affected by the downturn will move straight into houses which will be much cheaper, while those badly affected will not be able to afford flats whatever the price.

The answer is probably that the government will buy these back for social housing, or they will fall into disrepair. Surbiton could fast become a very undesirable place to live. I appreciate that this is at the extremity of what could happen, but it is possible.

Wow! Just came across this thread, and certainly hadn't realised that it was 2 years old!

The Maple Road site is still surrounded by ugly blue boards, with no sign of work starting. This is against a backdrop of house prices going up again, probably back to where they were in 2007 in central Surbiton.

I am not sure how much return the developer needs from this site, but with interest rate rises and new price falls predicted in the market, I doubt prices will be this high again for a few years.

Oh well, I'll post another update in 2013!

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