The site

The site, known as the Toby Jug site after a famous pub that previously stood there, and found in the A-Z as Hook Rise South, is next to the A3, a road believed to be the most heavily used non-motorway road in the UK.

Tesco bought the site from the Government in 2002 and worked up plans for the site.

Ironically, the site had been used by the Ministry of Agriculture Food and Fisheries and had mostly single-storey barrack-style buildings on it.

It emerged at the public meetings held in November 2006 that Tesco purchased the site by private treaty and the site never entered the open market.

The local authority, the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, has made it clear in the Planning Brief for the site that it was deemed that a retail store would in no way be considered to be acceptable for the site.

Impact on Tolworth Broadway

Tolworth Broadway currently has a lot of independent traders including a fruit and vegetable store, a butcher, cafés, a chemist, an electrical shop, a photo-processing shop, and an opticians as well as a small Boots Chemist, a Marks & Spencer store and a Budgens supermarket.

There is also a Tesco Express in the Tolworth Broadway shopping centre, and a large Tesco Extra just 3 miles away along the A3 in New Malden.

In the 2006 consultation, Tesco indicated that it would be prepared to pay for the removal of a pedestrian safety guard railing that is currently down the centre of Tolworth Broadway and to replace the pedestrian subway with a pelican crossing.

What it neglected to say was that Transport for London is funding the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames to do this in any case. It said that by doing this, and by providing more on-street car parking on what is the main route from the A3 to Kingston town centre, it could "encourage people back to Tolworth to shop", but said nothing about what this would do to traffic congestion and delays to buses.

2006 proposals

In 2006 residents in Tolworth formed a campaign group to oppose plans for a Tesco development in Tolworth, Kingston.

The planned development included a new 89,000 sq ft superstore (with 52,000 sq ft retail floorspace) and 662 flats in blocks 12 storeys high.

A public planning consultation forum was held in November 2006 at which Edward Davey MP spoke against the plans and which received local press coverage. The meeting was so full that a second session was held.

On both occasions the overwhelming view was one of opposition.

A decision was expected by the Council in March or April, but Tesco announced on 20th February 2007 that it was withdrawing its plans for Tolworth.

Tesco's first consultation

In October 2006 Tesco published a 4-page pamphlet showing illustrations of its designs and identifying the proposed development as "The Bridge".

Tesco made strong claims for the sustainability credentials of its proposals. The development was dubbed "The Bridge" because it proposed to build a new pedestrian bridge across the A3 from Tolworth Broadway to the new development, thus circumventing the existing pedestrian subways at the Tolworth junction maintained by Transport for London.

The bridge would have had an airport-style travelator in order to help people get up onto the bridge from the Broadway side, which is where the commercial activity is currently centred.

Tesco's brochure for "The Bridge" trumpeted that the development would be "powered by natural resources" and that it would "become a perfect example of sustainable development."

It illustrated this using two cartoon characters, one named 'Gus' who it is said "will munch up the organic rubbish and turn it into bio-gas to help power the boilers, producing electricity and heat for every building on the site." Meanwhile 'Chip' is their friendly character who is their combined heat and power system. "Taking bio-gas from Gus, he will mix it with mains gas to produce electricity and heat for every building on the site." (sic)

What Tesco left out of its brochure is any mention of traffic and how that might affect the local area. It didn't mention how many car parking spaces they intended to provide for the shop and for the flats. Neither was there any discussion about how the Tesco store would affect the trade in nearby independent shops.

Residents, notably from Tolworth Residents against Over Development(TROD), wrote to the local newspapers expressing concern about over development and in particular the pressure on health and education services in the area if the population increases by the projected 2,000 inhabitants. Kingston Friends of the Earth had stories in the newspapers about the threat to local businesses from Tesco.

In the early part of 2006 Tesco was due to meet residents and councillors but didn't attend. It said that since it had been asked to revise its plans by the Council and Councillors, there was no point discussing the original proposals.

2008 proposals

However, in November 2008 Tesco launched new proposals for Tolworth and exhibited its new plans at two public exhibitions on Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd November 2008.

The planning application was submitted to Kingston Council on 18th February 2009. This was for a superstore and 562 homes on the old Toby Jug and former Government site next to Tolworth Roundabout.

Following considerable public opposition, Tesco announced on 22nd April 2009 that they were withdrawing this planning application. They admitted that they would be unable to meet the requirements of the Mayor of London in relation to traffic management in the area.

2010 proposals

On 13th November 2010 Tesco sent a letter to businesses and some residents in Tolworth announcing their new plans for the Toby Jug site.

They explained that they were planning a development that would include a store and a hotel, but would be mainly residential. It would tie in with the Council's own proposals (funded by Transport for London) for improving Tolworth Broadway.

An exhibition was held on Friday 26th and Saturday 27th November in shop premises near the roundabout. Tesco claim that they have "radically changed our ideas for the site".

Edward Davey MP, said: "Tesco has still not got the message - we don't want a superstore here.

This new plan has the same flaws as the last two - it would break the council's plan for this site and would result in much more traffic on an already congested road scheme.

We need new housing and some real community benefit from this site. It is time Tesco understood that."

Cllr Rolson Davies said: "Tesco will have a fight on its hands. The outlined scheme is horrible."

Tesco submitted a planning application to Kingston Council in June 2012.

At the eleventh hour, just before Tesco’s planning application for the Tolworth site was due to be determined by the Development Control committee on 7th February 2014, they withdrew this application.

The recommendation by planning officers was that this application
should be refused. Tesco looked at the report and because of the recommendation decided to withdraw.

This is the third time they have submitted plans for the site, each time with a large store and many blocks of flats and this is the third time they have withdrawn their application.

2015 proposals

But it didn't stop there. The local Lib Dem Focus team set up a petition to ask Kingston Council to compulsorily purchase the land to protect the site, and prevent any further applications for large supermarkets.

On 12th March 2014 Tesco announced that it no longer intends to build a supermarket on the site. Instead it will develop plans for housing across the whole site.

Spenhill/Tesco submitted a new planning application on 13th March 2015 to develop 705 homes on the site.

While the obvious difference this time is the absence of a Tesco superstore, housing ranging from 3 to 18 storeys in height is proposed and there is still a retail space included.