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To: Kingston Council

Climate Emergency: Stop Demolition Extinction in Kingston

Climate Emergency: Stop Demolition Extinction in Kingston

We, the undersigned, call upon Royal Borough of Kingston Council to thoroughly rethink its plan to demolish the Borough’s council estates and to opt for a much less environmentally and socially damaging programme of refurbishment. We respect the need for a democratic decision from residents. We also welcome the plans for a ballot but we urge the Council to act responsibly, recognise the Climate Emergency we face, and the overwhelming scientific evidence against demolition (see below). We demand that the Council recommend that residents vote no to demolition in the Cambridge Road Estate ballot, which – contrary to the Council’s current option of a second ballot – should be considered binding and final.

Why is this important?

Climate Emergency: Stop Demolition Extinction in Kingston
Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames Council will debate whether to declare a “Climate Emergency” at its next Full Council meeting on 25/07/2019. Meanwhile, the Council is presently undertaking an environmentally and socially disastrous plan to demolish its council estates and replace them with developments of huge density, which will each result in a massive reduction of gardens and parkland. Development of the “Master Plan” for Cambridge Road Estate (CRE) is already under way, and Sheephouse Way and Kingsnympton Park estates will be “considered […] once Cambridge Road Estate has progressed further.”

Ecological disaster:
There are around 180 trees on Cambridge Road Estate alone – around 125 of which the Council plans to cut down during demolition. These trees sustain the delicate ecology of the local area, which will be devastated by demolition. Local ecologist Alison Fure has made this clear to the council, adding that:

"We have lost 12 million house sparrows since the 1970's. Populations continue to be fragile in some London boroughs, due to the fast pace and the amount of Total Footprint developments some councils have been prepared to accept. On the Cambridge Road Estate, there are approximately 50 house sparrows nesting predominately on the elevations (tile cladding) or accessing faults along the roof-line. Sparrows appear on the Section 41 list of priority species and the JNCC red list of conservation concern and can be deemed to be endangered. This means that they are a material consideration in the planning process. Ecologists can assist, by identifying and replacing ALL the features that the birds are dependent on. This will never work if the equation is driven by density and profit. The planning team need to understand the needs of the species; the communal nature of the bird, the requirement for safe places to breed, squabble and dust bathe, the need for communication with other house sparrow colonies (so you are not constantly breeding with your brothers and sisters) and a healthy functioning environment full of insects and seeds (after all even seed eating birds require insects to feed their young). And of course these insects are provided by the 150 trees of more than 50 years in age some of which have had a CAVAT value of £48,000: see here for more info"

Climate catastrophe:
Adding to the impending destruction of Kingston’s habitats, demolition of the Royal Borough’s Council Estates will contribute massively towards Climate Change. Local biologist, Struan Dudman points out that:

"According to the United Nations, the manufacture of building materials makes up 11% of total global greenhouse gas emissions, which then becomes embodied carbon, locked into the buildings. Carbon emissions from ongoing uses, such as heating and electricity make up 28% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. This means that embodied carbon is 30% of the in-use lifetime carbon emissions from buildings, so embodied carbon matters about as much as energy efficiency and renewables. When demolition takes place, embodied carbon is released back into the atmosphere, which makes a big impact on Climate Change. Finally, construction accounts for almost 47% of total CO2 emissions in the UK; if we don’t need to build new properties then we shouldn’t do it. In terms of Kingston’s Council estates, and Cambridge Road Estate in Particular, an estimated 60,391 of CO2e will be released in regeneration, compared to 6,039 or less for refurbishment. To put this in perspective, regeneration will increase an amount of carbon equivalent to the annual emissions from 27,000 new homes, just to get 100 more social homes! It will take at least 10 years to demolish/rebuild the CRE. Over that period, 6,820 new social housing units are required under Sadiq Khan’s new London Plan in Kingston. 100 new “social” units out of 6,820 over a 10-year regeneration is a drop in the ocean, all at an appallingly high environmental cost:

It is important to note that all of the buildings on Cambridge Road Estate are safe, structurally sound and will remain so for at least the next 30 years:

Social cleansing:
Surveys by residents and campaigners show that an overwhelming majority of people living on Cambridge Road Estate do not want demolition; many would prefer the much more environmentally friendly option of refurbishing and renovating the estate’s existing buildings. This, is in part, because they are worried about the possibility of not being able to return to the new estate, which will be densely packed with higher value flats, possibly with higher rents, even as green space is significantly reduced; out of one recent survey conducted by the organisers of this petition, of 59 residents, only 7 claimed to support the Council’s present plans.

The Alternative:
There alternatives to demolition. In the past, the Council has confirmed that it can borrow at least £400,000,000 from the government’s Public Works Loans Board, for the refurbishment of its existing housing stock and for the construction of council housing without demolition:

Kingston upon Thames

Maps © Stamen; Data © OSM and contributors, ODbL


Reasons for signing

  • I have lived next to the Cambridge Road Estate since 1984 so the impact of demolishing the entire complex will severely impact on all local residents. Has anyone looked at the asbestos survey for the estate? I can only imagine the buildings are packed with the stuff.
  • I'd like to point out the carbon in concrete won't be released with demolition. It is chemically-locked in as carbonate that will come out only with volcanic heat or strong acids. The rest of the science and figures must therefore be questioned. Meantime, plenty of buildings look marvellous with new cladding that will improve the energy rating and provide sparrow and insect nests. Email [email protected] for more.
  • The estate condition can be improved greatly by using a small fraction of the money you have to refurbish the whole area.


2019-06-21 16:05:52 +0100

500 signatures reached

2019-06-05 14:02:46 +0100

100 signatures reached

2019-06-05 11:34:41 +0100

50 signatures reached

2019-06-05 11:03:58 +0100

25 signatures reached

2019-06-03 22:38:07 +0100

10 signatures reached