Latest Monthly Minutes

MINUTES

Of the meeting held on the 2nd April2019

MEMBERS PRESENT

Chairman- Colin Punch, Mike Hoare – Vice Chairman, Treasurer – Diane Brannan, Francis Brannan,Colin Dance, Brian Ekins, Graham Hedley, Rob Robb,               Peter Shakeshaft, Colin Suckling,  Sue Towner,  Dick Ware.

VISITORS PRESENT

Lily Hands

                                                          APOLOGIES      

Councillor Margaret Thompson, Jenny Lewington, Sheila Watkins.

1.CHESSINGTON DISTRICT RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION NOTICES

Diane announced that Jim Morford, the Borough Commander of Surbiton Fire Station has agreed to be our Guest Speaker at our AGM on the 27th of June, 7.30pm at Chessington Methodist Church Hall. This is very good news as we know that the subject will be interesting and he is a good speaker so put the date in your diary.

2.MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING

The minutes of the last meeting were agreed as a true and accurate record of that meeting.

3. MATTERS ARISING FROM MINUTES

( a ) The Malden Rushett By-Pass We received several comments concerning this topic.

At our March meeting we were told that the residents of Malden Rushett are against a by-pass.  However, at this meeting Colin Suckling advised that they are in favour of a by-pass as long as it does not impinge on the ‘green belt’ area.  They think that a cut through from the A3 to the back of Chessington World of Adventures would be a possible solution to the hours of slow moving traffic that they currently encounter.

Councillor Margaret Thompson sent us an email.  She wrote:-

 ‘The Hook bypass, as you know, has a long and sorry history. I know that we have brought this idea forward a number of times and that Ed Davey has raised it. The problems have been that other local authorities object, the huge cost, unpopularity among a surprising number of residents, destruction of Green Belt, landowners objections. It hasn’t gone away and we are not doing nothing, but I know it looks like that because nothing has happened!’

Councillor Sharon Young also sent us an email.  She wrote:-Re the relief road, the long-standing residents of Chessington know this has been discussed for the last 40 years! Main objection to relief road is that is goes through green belt land. 

However I was interested/ surprised to see that in the Local Plan there is a “potential relief road” on the plans should any development happen in SoB. It is worth stressing that although Caroline Shah has some very passionate thoughts about the Local Plan, it is only an outline of possibilities,not permitted or planned development on any specific sites. And the document is open for comments and consultation to allow residents to shape this.’

4.VISITING MEMBERS QUESTIONS AND CONTRIBUTIONS

There were none.

5. SUMMARY OF MAJOR ISSUES

There were none.

6.MINOR NEW ISSUES

(  b ) Meeting with Chessington North Post Office – In response to the discontent from residents about what was considered to be negative changes at the Chessington North Post Office our residents association contacted their management to arrange a meeting.  The meeting was attended by our Chairman Colin Punch and Executive Member Rob Robb with Carl Farnham the Head of Post Office Operations and Karl Oliver the Commercial Partnership Retail Manager from McColls who own Martins.  Our members explained that residents were unhappy that the Post Office section has now moved to be part of the Martins shop counter.  They claimed that people did not realise that the Post Office was still operating.  They also said that there were no trained Post Office staff and the staff available did not always know what services were possible. As a consequence, many residents now use the Hook Post Office located in Tesco’s.  Here the  staff are very knowledgeable and helpful.  Their hours of opening are 8am to 8pm seven days a week which I am sure we would all agree is very impressive.

Colin and Rob were told that it is now quite common not to have specific Post Office staff in stores. It was necessary to cut costs as in FY18 the Chessington North Post Office branch made a loss of £3,000.  However, they agreed that better signage should be used so that customers know that the Post Office is still available.  Our residents association also suggested that they advertise their services in Chessington Chat so as to make us all aware of what is possible. 

We have just received our May edition of Chessington Chat where Chessington North Post Office have bought space to advertise their long opening hours of 6am to 7pm Monday to Saturday and 7am to 2pm on Sunday. They also list the wide ranging list of services that they offer. Well done to Rob and Colin for taking the initiative to arrange the meeting.  Well done to the post office for being able to take and act upon well meant criticism. We hope that people using this Post Office branch will see an improvement.

(  c  )Evans Halshaw Showroom at Malden Rushett–For a long time the car showroom has been causing long tailbacks of traffic when they unload their car trailers. Residents of Malden Rushett have continually been complaining about this. On the 2nd of April a meeting was arranged between residents, Councillors, Transport for London and Evans Halshaw.  Unfortunately, Evans Halshaw did not turn up.

There were various suggestions made.  However, nothing was resolved.  The Council will now carry out a consultation of residents preferences.

7. HEALTH ISSUES

( d ) Gosbury Hill Health Centre –  As we have written in previous minutes the Gosbury Hill Health Centre have wanted to move to more suitable premises for some time.  However, it has been difficult to find a suitable locatio. Key to this project is the requirement for it not to be far from its current location.  A meeting was arranged between Kingston Clinical Commissioning Group (KCCG), the Gosbury Health Centre, some CDRA members and Councillor Margaret Thompson.  Katherine Mc Dermott who was then the Director of KCCG said that a new location must be a priority.  Rob Robb from CDRA has suggested that a new building could be built at the rear of Moor Lane School.  This subject has been ongoing for many years.  Hopefully, a solution will be found in the near future.

8. EDUCATIONAL ISSUES

(  e ) Ellingham School–  On the 13th of March several of our executive members met with the Headteacher Maggie Fairweather, Deputy Headteacher Laura Brooks and Paula Peters who teaches children in the reception classes for an update.

Ellingham is a two form of entry community primary school with a nursery. They provide education for over 400 children from 2 to 11 years old in a state-of-the-art new building. 

 Maggie is an interim Headteacher. We were told that RBK and the Head of Governors are currently interviewing candidates for the position of a permanent Headteacher and preparing a short list.

A CDRA member asked about identifying children with learning difficulties.  We were told that if a member of the staff is concerned about a particular child it will be discussed by a staff committee.  It will then be necessary for them to gather evidence so that help can be given to the child.

They currently have three children with ‘special educational needs’.  They are taught in smaller groups and supported by the Local Authority to ensure that all pupils, regardless of their specific needs, make the best possible progress in school.

If a child behaves badly in the classroom they will be taken out of the class.

We were pleased and surprised to hear that prior to starting their nursery or reception class the child will receive a home visit, usually from Paula who will be teaching them.  This is so that the initial meeting is in familiar surroundings and when the child starts school, they will already be familiar with the teacher.

Ellingham buy back professional sports coaches who deliver skills based activities. Each class has two hours of PE weekly. In these sessions children work to develop skills which are then put together to, for example, perform a dance or gymnastics routine or play a larger game of hockey, football or basket ball. Whilst the children do sports the teachers receive 10% free time for planning.

There is an after school club for child care.

One of our members asked if Malden Rushett children are still given first choice of Ellingham School if they wish to go there.  We were told that it is still the case as it is their closest school.

We were told that after Easter parents travelling by car will no longer be able to access Ellingham School via Harrow Close.  This is because a lot of children from St Philips School have to travel by bus.  The large number of parents travelling by car are causing severe congestion and causing children from St Philips to have to sit on a bus for an extra half an hour.  We understand the stance taken by Ellingham School as this situation is clearly unfair to the children of St Philips. 

9. PLANNING APPLICATIONS

(  f  )  18/00303 – 2, Sherbourne Road –  Erection of two storey, three bedroom detached dwelling house.  We objected to this application for the following reasons:-

1] We feel the squeeze in of this detatched 3 bedroom house on a corner site will be out of    keeping with the general streetscape of the road

2] The new house is set back from the general road building line and will add to the comment made in item 1.

3] On the proposed elevation drawing there is conflict as to whether there is to be a new   chimney stack or not.

The application is still pending consideration by the planning department

(  g )  18/10383 –  2, Coutts Avenue – Erection of two storey, one bedroom flat at the  end of terrace house. Again we objected for the following reasons:-

1] The add-on of this one bed to a terrace of 3 beds is out of keeping.

2]  No on- site parking provision in an area where on-street parking is a severe problem.

3] Overlooking from the rear bedroom window to rear garden of No 4 Sanger Avenue. The distance is less than 7.5m and will be more invasive as the new house will be overlooking from a higher level. 

The application is still pending consideration by the planning department

( h ) Infilling of Houses –  The above applications are just two examples of planning applications for new homes to be built by squeezing them into a small space of an existing house.  In the past all local planning applications were first heard at our regular Neighbourhood Committee meetings.  If they were small they were nodded through or rejected, if they were medium size they were examined in detail by the Neighbourhood Committee and resident’s comments were heard. Our local Councillors could approve or reject them. If they were large a similar process was gone through and then the application would be forwarded to the Council’s Development Control Committee for a decision.  However, in recent years the number of Neighbourhood Committee meetings has been greatly reduced, and so have the discussions of planning applications. Instead small and medium applications are decided by planning officers unless the local Councillors ask for them to be heard at Neighbourhood Committee.

This coincided with the end of the large increase in property values.  During this price increase process it became possible for a householder, who may have had only a medium size garden, to build a small house and make a lot of money by selling it.  We have subsequently had a considerable number of planning applications to build narrow, infill style houses.  One such development that we have followed, which resulted in a 14ft wide house being built in the garden alongside a property, which was the last house in a small terrace, which was quickly sold, resulting in a profit in the region of £150,000 for the home owner.

In the past our South of the Borough Neighbourhood Committee had a policy of not allowing such small infill constructions to be built.  Such constructions very often ruin the ambience of the local built environment.  However, that policy now appears to have been abandoned.  We will look into this and report back.

10.PLANNNG NEWS

( i  ) Over Development in Kingston – Last month we discussed the work that Caroline Shah is doing to try and  fight  ‘over development in Kingston’.  She believes that the Council were wrong to agree to Kingston becoming an ‘Opportunity Area’ without prior consultation with residents which means that Kingston have a very high target of homes to build in Kingston.

Councillor Margaret Thompson sent us an email commenting on this item in our minutes.  She wrote:-‘Caroline Scott Shah has not fully understood what is happening. She has not believed the explanations. The call for sites was an exercise started a couple of years ago where developers – not the Council – were invited to put forward any ideas they might have for land that could theoretically be developed. This is entirely independent of who owns it and what’s on it now. Legally, you could ask for planning permission to build in my back garden! This is part of looking for possible sites for development so that we can start to fulfil the house building targets that the Mayor has set, although we are also lobbying against them.

The consultation has now begun and everyone will have a chance to respond. This is the time for response – the earlier document was not one to be consulted on. So for instance, a developer might look at Churchfields on a map and imagine a new estate. The council would never allow that, quite regardless of any covenants etc. However, there may be areas of land that could be used for housing that residents suggest from the list of sites. For instance, personally I think that Five Acre Farm is a disaster area and a properly thought out development with access that doesn’t involve Clayton Rd could be a possibility. The Crossrail 2 issue is also a consideration but so long delayed that it probably won’t be in my lifetime! Caroline is spreading a great deal of alarm that isn’t justified’.

Although we accept Councillor Thompson’s explanation that the sites previously identified were not necessarily chosen by the Council. Our residents’ association believe this is a big subject and  a lot of what Caroline has written appears to be factual.  For instance the undemocratic way that the Council decided that we would become an ‘Opportunity Area’.  Dick Ware who manages our planning issues has done a lot of work on this subject.  You can find his reports on our website

You can also find more about what Caroline has written on what she calls  the flawed ‘Direction of Travel’ consultation that decided our future as an ‘Opportunity Area’, on our website http://www.chessingtondra.org.uk/how-many-councillors-did-it-take-to-destroy-our-royal-boroug

The Council.have now  published the consultation document “Kingston – Looking forward together” to start the conversation on how a new Local Plan for the Royal Borough should be  shaped and developed. Our residents association would urge you to take part in this consultation as it will affect our future in Chessington/Kingston.
 Please visit: www.kingston.gov.uk/newlocalplan for more details.

11.POLICE REPORT

There was none.

12.ANY OTHER BUSINESS

( j ) Conservation Status for Elmcroft Drive –  Some three or four years ago we asked that one road or urban area in each of the South of the Borough wards be given the basic form of conservation status.  We had begun to see that some of our most attractive roads were in danger of ruinous over development.  Being declared a ‘Local Area of Special Character’ would help prevent the type of development which can spoil a locality.

The roads or areas for which we sought protection were Green Lane in Chessington South, the Ransom Estate in Chessington North comprising Somerset Avenue, Selwood Road and Vallis Way, and Elmcroft Drive in Tolworth and Hookrise.  This was a modest request for minimal protection of three excellent streets or areas, and was welcomed by the residents.  There are over twenty conservation areas in Kingston, but none are in the South of the Borough.

An initial inspection was made by a planning officer accompanied by the Councillor who was then the Chairwoman of the South of the Borough Neighbourhood Committee.  They decided that Green Lane and Elmcroft Drive deserved conversation status protection, but not the Ransom Estate.  We protested at this saying that this estate, built in the 1930’s with spacious semi detached houses with attached garages, and charming detached bungalows on each street corner, was in advance of its time when built.  The area is very popular with residents, and the houses are always price leaders for their style and type of home.  The area has a very stable resident population which proves that these qualities are greatly valued.  We also said that local residents should be the people who decided if they would like conservation status, and so decide their own future.  That argument got nowhere.

So, Green Lane and Elmcroft Drive were to be considered.  It is sometimes said that the mills of the Gods grind slowly.  Kingston Council are even slower!  The years passed.  The Council officers came and went.  Hurray, the Council employed a Conservation Architect, now we will have progress we thought.  The Council did not renew her contract.

We were very fortunate that our Vice Chairman Mike Hoare of  Elmcroft Drive  had the strength to drive this project forward.  His wife is a local historian and was able to provide a written narrative of the history of the road for the Council.  Now, many years later, the a notice has been fixed to the lamp posts of Elmcroft Drive. It reads ‘ A heritage assessment has identified Elmcroft Drive as a local heritage asset, which makes a positive contribution to the local character and distinctiveness of the local area.  A copy of the assessment can be found at Hook library or online https://bit.ly/2uBjC3e  Owner occupiers have been sent a notification letter. It seems a possible conclusion for Elmcroft Drive is in sight.  Our attention will now turn to Green Lane. You never know, we may even get some help this time from our Councillors.

( k ) Ex SOTB Neighbourhood Manager Neville Rainsford has retired–  Many residents will remember that prior to Barry Allen, Neville Rainsford,  was, for many years, our South of the Borough Neighbourhood Manager.  He was industrious, conscientious, and an excellent person to work with.  He did a lot for the well being of Hook, Chessington and Malden Rushett. 

He left us when he was asked to take on the complexities and an enormous workload of being the Council’s Town Centre Neighbourhood Manager, where he excelled.  Whenever, we met him at Guildhall meetings he always wanted an update and asked how things were going in the South of the Borough.

Now he has reached retirement age and left the Council’s employment at the end of April.  It was a great pleasure to work with such an excellent civil servant and good person.

 Dates for your Diary – 

The next Chessington District Residents Association Meeting. will be held on Tuesday the 7th of May followed by the 4th of June. The meetings are held at St Pauls Centre in Hook Road which is the small hall attached to the side of the Church.

Celebrate Chessington Fun Day  –  Thursday 30th of May, 12pm – 4pm Churchfields  BBQ, Fairground rides, Face Painting, Fun activities, Bouncy Castle,Cakes, Raffle,Music and more!

South of the Borough Neighbourhood Committee meeting – 4th of June – Venue to be advised.

Chessington District Residents’ Association AGM – Thursday 27th of June at 7.30pm – Chessington Methodist Church Hall, Moor Lane.  Guest Speaker Jim Morford, the Borough Commander of Surbiton Fire Station \n