This month, St George made their planning application for the Ashdown Road/Old Post Office site, and in January they will be holding further public exhibitions - see the News section of this website and keep an eye on our Facebook page for updates.
In September 2014 the TOPO Steering Group held its final quorate meeting - notes from this are published at http://e-voice.org.uk/topo/files/view/committee-meetings/TOPO_SG_meeting,_1.9.14,_notes.docx. This was the 15th of our strategy meetings + a few open meetings when we were seeking ideas or support + many many meetings with councillors, council officers and the new owners, so we have not been idle! It has been a productive and constructive period, and we have succeeded in getting the need for, and the positive aspects of, a community space in the Old Post Office building on the local agenda.
Though we have carried on communicating with each other and the TOPO Facebook group, it has proved difficult for the Steering Group to get together since September, and there have been few pressing reasons to do so, so it is beginning to feel like time to wind down and hand some things on.
Much has changed in the 2+ years of the TOPO project: the site has been bought, subject to planning permission, by a much more communicative developer, St George; some of our original supporters have found other premises; some of the Steering Group have moved on; some new supporters or potential users of community space have, and will continue to, come along...
What next? The rump of the TOPO steering group will continue to pass on news of the St George planning application, will respond to it, and, if necessary and possible, will attend the relevant Council planning meeting.
If the St George application succeeds, there may be eventually an opportunity for a person or group to manage a community space and/or lease a cafe on the site; if it does not succeed, there may be an appeal (there often is) or it will revert to the original owner Hammerson, which would not be particularly good news for the TOPO project and would probably mean more years of delay and deterioration of this Grade-2-listed building.
Whatever the outcome, the current Steering Group feels that our main task is over. We may not get all that we and our supporters hoped for, but we may well get some of it, and if we do that will be an achievement: something useful and new in the town centre. But it was never our intention to manage a community cafe or venue - that will be for others to take on, if and when it happens. And it is not our intention to start campaigning all over again if this planning application fails - that too will be for others to take on sometime in the future.
Thank you for your support - and let's keep our fingers crossed that we do get a vibrant, exciting, creative, affordable community space in this much-loved bit of Kingston's heritage in the not-too-distant future.
There was a bit of a gap between our March and our August meetings, with nothing much happening for a while - and then suddenly it was all systems go, with news of the acquisition of the site by developers St George, an exhibition of their intitial proposals in the former Sorting Office and a pre-planning consultation.
Since then we have made a presentation about TOPO to Kingstonfirst stakeholders and had several meetings (notes from our August 8th meeting are now published in Our Files at http://e-voice.org.uk/topo/files/view/committee-meetings/TOPO_Steering_Group_minutes,_8_Aug_2014.doc). We also had a couple of viewings of the main PO, conversations with the developers and with the new leader of Kingston Council, and informal meetings with a new business partnership, Sarah Wrigglesworth and Peter Gush, keen to manage a community venue very much along the lines that the TOPO consortium have been considering.
So, welcome to the TOPO consortium, Sarah and Peter, who will be working with the steering group and others in the consortium interested in running the TOPO space as an events/work /arts community space and cafe, to make a robust proposal and build up a business plan as details emerge. Sarah and Peter have met the steering group a couple of times and viewed the Old Post Office - and haven't been put off - so it looks as though we could be on track for Phase 2 if/when it happens.
The next significant event will be the planning application from St George, anticipated before the end of the year, and we will of course, keep all our supporters informed about that.
Just uploaded the Minutes of the steering group's March meeting - http://e-voice.org.uk/topo/files/view/committee-meetings/TOPO_SG_meeting_%2313,_March2014.doc.
Apologies for the delay but a few months ago nothing much was happening and there seemed little reason to meet just to confirm meeting #13 minutes - but suddenly it is all happening and there is a lot to talk about so we got together yesterday evening, 7/8, for meeting #14, to catch up and plan ahead, and confirmed our last meeting's minutes for publication. Some of what we were thinking about in March has been overtaken by events, but nevertheless the notes are a fair account of our meeting.
Use the calendar or list of months to view entries made on those dates.