Secret LibDem planning decision set to cost £millions and leave Kingston defenceless against skyscraper

Kingston’s LibDem-run Council has secretly made changes to the instructions of a council committee, that could cost the council £millions or leave it powerless to prevent a 17-storey skyscraper. 

The site at Canbury Place, also known as the ‘Kingsgate’ development on the car park at the rear of Kingston station, was disposed of by Kingston Council in 2017. 

The decision to dispose of the site was made by a council committee who agreed to protect against future overdevelopment by allowing a single tower of up to 12 storeys. The height restriction was detailed in the North Kingston Development Brief. However, when the sale contract was signed, the LibDem-run Council overturned the committee decision. 

The developer has since submitted a scheme for 21 storeys which they have recently reduced to 17 storeys, breaking the agreed height limit. It has now emerged that after the LibDems took power in 2018 the new LibDem Leader signed off a contract which broke the height restrictions imposed by the Conservative Council, paving the way for a Kingston skyscraper.

Investigations have confirmed that the sale contract wording was secretly changed from that agreed by the Councillors at committee. The matter has now been reported as a whistleblowing event to the Council’s auditors who are currently investigating.

Cllr Kevin Davis, Leader of the Conservative Opposition, said: “This application was a shock. The councillors who decided to sell the land imposed only one condition on the sale, that it should not be overly tall. Now we understand that after the 2018 local elections the LibDems secretly changed the contract and removed the restriction on height.

“Not only does this mean that the residents of Canbury and North Kingston could now get the tallest skyscraper in the Borough looming over them, but obviously the sale price of the land should have been higher with height restrictions removed. Kingston council will miss out on £millions by this simple betrayal.”

Extract from committee papers dated 7 February 2017

North Kingston Development Brief extract