First Kingston breakfast briefing hailed a success

First Kingston breakfast briefing hailed a success

Delegates at a packed inaugural Kingston breakfast briefing voted the event a huge success and came away with the message that the Royal Borough is 'open for business.'

The briefing on July 1 entitled 'Growth and Prosperity for All' was organised, promoted and managed on the day by White Label, on behalf of Kingston Futures and Kingstonfirst.

Set in historic All Saints Church, the event aimed to help businesses take a share of the town's £1.2 billion investment programme.

It was such a success that a second briefing is now in the pipeline for autumn.

"This is just the start of the conversation about the redevelopment of Kingston," said Royal Borough of Kingston Programme Manager Neil Taylor.

Ros Morgan, Chief Executive of Kingstonfirst, added: "It is the first step to ensuring businesses in the town centre and across the borough get to hear first-hand about plans for the future of Kingston, and it provides a forum where their views can be heard and shared."

The breakfast briefing allowed delegates to meet with key stakeholders and hear about the major financial investments being generated across the borough, like the new Kingston Station Plaza and the Eden Quarter residential, retail and leisure development.

Principle guest speaker, Kingston's newly-elected MP, James Berry, told the audience the town is uniquely placed to grow and prosper. "I want people to know that Kingston is open for business and is a place where companies choose to do business," he told delegates. Mr Berry outlined three key points which will enable the town's future ambitions to be fulfilled.

They include:

  • A redevelopment strategy that was acceptable to existing residents and in keeping with the town's status as a desirable place to live
  • Nurturing start-ups so they wanted to grow business, create employment and stay in the town (Kingston University has produced more start-up businesses than any other university in the UK)
  • Improving Transport – primarily the town's "creaking" rail service – and making the case for the new, high speed pan-London Crossrail to come to Kingston.
  • "We are not going to be a first rate business centre with a third rate train service," he told delegates. "I have been investigating whether it would be appropriate for TfL to take over our creaking train service when Southwest Trains franchise comes up for renewal.

    "But this year – 2015 – is also our year to make the case for Crossrail to come to Kingston. I would be interested to hear what delegates think of this."

    Delegates also heard from Kingstonfirst Chairman Greg Hughes, Kingston Council's Strategic Planning Manager Eric Owens and Economic Development Executives Phil Clement and John Pye.

    They outlined key projects and timescales, through to 2021 and beyond, when Kingston will have a working population of 80,000, requiring an 7,500 new homes.

    The audience questioned speakers on everything from the need for more affordable and flexible housing to the opportunities for tendering for the development.