Regeneration project: Kingston Town Centre
Kingston’s been awarded £612,000 from Round One and £2m from Round Two of the Mayor’s Outer London Fund to improve its historic character and become a major tourist attraction. This investment has been boosted by match funding from the borough of £1.1m, £899,000 from All Saints Kingston and £7,500 from Kingstonfirst. Kingston is struggling to distinguish itself from other outer London shopping centres. The funding is helping to create heritage and cultural attractions like the refurbished Ancient Market and All Saints Church. A new festival of public art performances by young people confirms Kingston as somewhere contemporary culture and heritage meet.
The restoration of the Grade I Listed All Saints Kingston, by Ptolemy Dean Architects, is creating a new heritage destination placing Kingston at the centre of English history. These works allow the church to communicate its important role in the coronation of English kings and will turn the eastern end into a flexible space for community use. The new facility will offer services for young people, disability and community groups, by working with partners including the borough, Kingston College, local PCT and BID. A social enterprise café will also provide new jobs and a venue for education and volunteering.
Local charity Creative Youth have staged a number of vibrant arts events in Kingston including ANIMATE 2012 a festival of dance, theatre, music, puppetry, circus skills, film and art that used pockets of neglected space to take visitors on a journey through the town centre. The International Youth Arts Festival in July 2013 is the biggest of its kind in the UK with 7,000 young people taking part in 300 performances across the town centre, while 30,000 watched. Creative Youth is also working with a local landowner to turn a delivery area into a new outdoor performance space for circus performances.
Kingston’s Ancient Market is being given a much-needed makeover in order to increase trading prospects and improve its appearance as a setting for the Grade II listed Market House. New market stalls have been designed to make more efficient use of the space. Architects Tonkin Liu’s proposals for the market also include a unified paving surface and lighting mounted on buildings to reduce existing clutter. The introduction of three Legible London signs at each entrance to the market place will help visitors get around more easily, and make stronger links to important cultural and retail spots.
Creative Youth is giving artistic, business and mentoring support to local young people, while its events have attracted new visitors to the town centre benefiting traders. Local BID, Kingstonfirst is also working hard to maximise the opportunities of the new market stalls and improvements to the Ancient Market with branding and digital and social media support, creating a distinctive town centre offer. It is also supporting local entrepreneurs and helping pop-ups to become permanent fixtures. Talks are ongoing with the local university and college to create courses for aspiring market traders, and run a student market to showcase the work of graduates.
Improvements to how traffic is managed and the rationalisation of traffic flows around the town centre is releasing space for flexible use around Kingston’s Ancient Market.
Preparing for change
The first round of Outer London Fund investment funded a historic building report on Kingston’s Market House. The report found that this important local asset was vulnerable to underuse, inappropriate development and poor maintenance. It recommended decisions on future uses should acknowledge these factors, balancing care of the building with sustainable development of the town centre as a whole. The report also highlighted the potential benefits offered by increasing access to the building. These principles have underpinned the development of proposals for the future of the Market House.
Partners/client: RB Kingston, All Saints Kingston, Kingstonfirst, Creative Youth
Funding: Mayor of London £2.6m, RB Kingston £1.1m, All Saints Kingston £899,000, Kingstonfirst £7,500