“Our vision is to revitalise our historic town centre and celebrate its rich heritage to make it better for our residents, local businesses, students and visitors. This will help to diversify our local economy beyond retail and ignite a vibrant leisure and cultural scene.” – Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames
The challenge for the Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames is that their local economy has historically been retail-led and its vitality is therefore vulnerable during downturns in retail spending. However, through the regeneration of sites across the borough, they plan to ignite vibrant leisure and cultural scene. Furthermore, the borough has a rich heritage, and any new developments would need to respect and retain the character of the historic town centre. The Royal Borough of Kingston has prepared a vision that aims to revitalise the historic town centre and celebrate the rich heritage of the town to make it better for the residents, local businesses, students, and visitors.
The site falls within a recognised opportunity area in the London Plan and is expected to experience significant growth over the next 15 years with plans for 9,000 new homes and 5,000 employment opportunities. As well as needing to accommodate growth, the site falls within the Fairfield/Knights Place Conservation Area and is adjacent to the Grade II listed Kingston Library and Museum within an Area of Archaeological Significance. It was essential that the site deliver high quality, sensitively designed facility that was accessible to all residents whilst also maximising opportunities for biodiversity enhancements, pedestrian linkages and improving existing spaces including the adjacent Fairfield children’s playground.
Temple was appointed to support the delivery of a key community asset in the form of a new state of the art community leisure facility, by providing planning and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as well as ecology and arboriculture services. The proposals are located on the site of the Kingfisher Leisure Centre which has been closed for over two years and is currently subject to a planning application for demolition. The closure of the leisure centre has left residents with no leisure facilities to use and until our planning application was submitted, no formal indication as to the future of this important community site.
Temple worked collaboratively alongside the Royal Borough of Kingston and a multi-disciplined team including Faulkner Browns Architects, Alan Baxter, Stace, Cundall and Pre-Construct Archaeology, to develop high quality and sensitively designed scheme that addresses the challenges facing the site, local economy, and Borough. The scheme improves access to and the range of leisure and community facilities available, ensures the long term use of the Grade II listed Library and Museum, and enhances public space, landscape design and biodiversity.
The scheme achieves a proposal that maximises the use of the site to deliver an uplift in community and leisure facilities within a recognised growth area. This includes a new sensitively designed single storey extension to the Library and Museum building increasing useable floorspace and enabling the co-location of Council leisure and community facilities. The extension creates a new cultural hub for the Borough, improves public access and supports the continued use of the museum.
Further intensification of uses come from the innovative and sensitively designed 406sqm biodiverse rich, green roof which not only supports a substantial biodiversity net gain but also accommodates a flood-lit, artificial sports pitch and communal terrace. Elsewhere the additional floorspace has increased the range of facilities the new leisure centre is able to provide including a swimming pool and associated facilities, sports hall, fitness suite, rooftop flood-lit artificial sports pitch, community space and café.
High quality improvements to public space and pedestrian access will encourage footfall to and from Kingston Town Centre. This includes enhancement of the existing Fairfield Children’s Playground, provision of a new public square and installation of a ‘museum walk’ to create a positive interface between the Community Leisure Building and the Grade II listed Library and Museum. As a result, the scheme has an urban greening factor of 0.57 which exceeds the requirements within the planning policy.
In February 2022 we submitted a planning application including an Environmental Statement for Planning and Listed Building Consent for a new leisure and community building on the site of the former vacant Kingfisher Leisure Centre. The application is due to be determined by Planning Committee later this year.