How long will the King Street shops stay boarded up?

Local residents are growing understandably impatient that premises intended to be used for shops at 407 King Street are still boarded up.

The Council’s planning policies fail to account for the housing shortage – that inflexibility has caused the derelict Ravenscourt Hospital site to remain an eyesore for ten years when allowing change of use for housing would make more sense.

There also needs to be an acceptance that with more of our purchases being done online fewer shops are needed. With many existing shops struggling the viability of insisting on yet more shops being included in new developments is rather doubtful. Of course each case will have particular issues to consider but overall we already have more shops than we need.

The Council’s planning department tells me:

“Generally, we would not be in favour of residential development at ground floor level on a busy road, as the quality of the accommodation would not be great.”

I understand that point. Also I appreciate the symmetry of having a row of shops along a high street. But then the boarded up shops aren’t great either. Wouldn’t it at least make sense to allow flats on the corner?

Anyway the Council’s planning enforcement officer tells me:

“The planning enforcement team have recently written to the developers advising them that they are required to remove the hoardings and install the glazed shopfronts in accordance with their planning permission. If they fail to do so they will be liable to enforcement action.”

So I suppose that would be better than nothing.


Lucy Ivimy: Collapse of the Council’s King Street and cinema redevelopment plans

Cllr Lucy Ivimy writes

You may have noticed the gaping hole where the old King Street cinema used to be.

Its demolition was the first step in a generally liked redevelopment that had been extensively consulted on and that would have:

  • delivered a new cinema
  • converted the ugly Town Hall extension into modern housing
  • filled in the windswept ‘undercroft’ with attractive, useable space, including an entrance to the new cinema and a cafe
  • removed the hideous concrete walkways behind the existing extension and replaced them with soft landscaping and trees to create a new public space in front of the art deco Town Hall
  • provided new disabled access and lifts for the Town Hall
  • created modern office space, easily accessible to residents, for the Council’s residents’ services

The Labour council has terminated the agreement with the developer after refusing for a year to meet with them and now wants to go back to the drawing board.

I very much fear a long delay, with nothing except a gaping hole in King Street, to end up with a new scheme that will not be any better than the one that has now been cancelled.