The Kingston Context
Kingston plays an important sub-regional role in a number of sectors, including education, public administration, the health service and judicial services. These roles extend links and networks throughout and beyond the borough boundary.
Kingston Town Centre, one of 11 Metropolitan Centres across London, is the borough’s main commercial centre and a sub-regional shopping centre, as well as being a significant cultural and leisure destination. Being the 3rd best performing shopping centre in London after the West End/Oxford Street and the 17th best performing retail location nationally, Kingston Town Centre attracts people from across South East London and Surrey.
Kingston College and Kingston University with roughly 10,000 and 20,000 students respectively, are valuable assets to the borough, adding greatly to the borough’s diversity as well as national and international links. These institutions also ensure that Kingston’s workforce have the right skills to suit the needs of future economies.
However, despite equal numbers of jobs and residents available for work, there is a significant imbalance between the types of jobs available and the skills base of the borough’s residents. The high proportion of lower service jobs available in the borough results in a high proportion of residents commuting out of the borough to work and large numbers of workers commuting into the borough to work.
Kingston has much culture to be proud of, being home to Kingston Museum Art Gallery, Kingston Museum and the Rose Theatre. In particular, the Rose Theatre has attracted a more diverse cross-section of visitors to the borough and has in-turn led to new types of amenities opening in the town. The wide range of bars and restaurants on offer contribute to Kingston’s thriving night-time economy.
Chessington World of Adventures theme park and zoo is located in the south of the borough, and is one of the top visitor attractions in London, attracting around 1.5 million visitors per year from across the country.
Kingston is a London borough and as such, its planning framework must be aligned with the vision and strategies set out in the Mayor’s London Plan. However, as an outer London borough, Kingston has important and well established links and shares characteristics with neighbouring authorities in Surrey. In particular, there are significant flows of people from neighbouring Surrey boroughs to Kingston for health, education, sport and recreation, culture, shopping and leisure and employment reasons that far exceed the flows in the opposite direction. This has an impact on Kingston’s infrastructure and this must be taken into account when planning for future growth in the new Local Plan.
Kingston Futures is the borough-wide regeneration programme and has been established to drive growth opportunities and lobby for infrastructure improvements by seeking external funding to deliver projects designed to facilitate residential and business growth to support growth, prosperity and wellbeing across the borough. It will be important for Kingston to work with key partners such as Transport for London and the Greater London Authority to optimise and realise the appropriate scale of growth that is needed throughout the borough. In particular, it will be important for Kingston to maximise opportunities such as the potential arrival of Crossrail 2 which will help shape the borough's long term growth ambitions and bring investment into the borough.