Twickenham Station Plans Approved

Solum Regeneration’s plans for Twickenham station were approved by Richmond Council’s Planning Committee last night. At a long and sometimes stormy meeting at York House the cases for and against were presented. Despite the ruling Tory Council having recently adopted an SPD planning framework for the area which wanted a maximum of five stories at the station, the Committee decided to vote through the plans anyway. So that shiny new SPD is clearly a complete waste of time.

The ruling marks three wins in a row for Solum in their development projects. First Epsom, then Walthamstow and now Twickenham. They must be delighted. Presumably they’ll be keen to get to work asap on their modern / Georgian pastiche if it’s to be ready for the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Residents action group TRAG have said they will seek a judicial review of the decision but it’s hard to see how anyone would overturn it now given that it’s now got the full El Brute seal of approval.

MORE
Find more details on the Richmond & Twickenham Times site.

56 Comments

Filed under Council, Local Issues & News, Station Development

56 responses to “Twickenham Station Plans Approved

  1. Guess who

    Come to the TRAG meeting at York House on Thursday 29th March at 8.00 pm in the Clarendon Hall

    The Fight Goes On

  2. Brita

    What about the impact on the protected views from Richmond Riverside Terrace and King Henry’s mound? Will it be visible?

  3. planning guru

    In reply to Phil and Chris

    If TRAG had applied for outline planning permission the planning officer’s would have had to meet them to discuss Plan B. It’s not expensive.

    It’s too late now that the Council have approved Solum’s application. The only hope is that Boris refuses it, but that’s highly unlikely following his official comments?

  4. twickerman

    Gawain,
    How do you know if Solum’s aplication was financially viable?
    Their economic viability assessment was so secret that even the planning committee members deciding on th application weren’t alllowed to see it. How’s that for informed decision making.
    There was also huge uncertainty over the construction time and cost of the podium. It started out costing £3m, but was then thought to be about £4m, but this is unclear becuase they don’t know how its going to be build , who’s going to build it, or if Nertwork Rail will allow them any weekend possessions in which to build it.
    The outcome is that they will go blindly ahead with the podium, see how long it takes and how ridiculously expensive it is, before running begging to the Council for more money to finish it before the RWC 2015 (‘oh please Lord True’).
    Sounds like a plan….a plan for a huge unfinished concrete podium, possibly with a temporary-permanent portacabin station office on top of it.
    Bring it on!!

  5. Gawain

    Cracked record here; wheres the financing plan for lowrise? Is it on TRAG’s site? Nope. Pretty pictures aren’t enough, guys.

    • Gawain,
      TRAG has runs its scheme through the GLA Development toolkit and it stacks up. On current criteria it will also generate money for affordable housing, which Solum has, in an act of utter cynicism, axed from its scheme. Also bear in mind that TRAG has not been given the same opportunity as Solum to refine its plans by pre-application discussion with the Council. The Council, to its shame, has declined to let TRAG’s scheme in the room.

  6. twickerman

    Phil and Mike,

    It would be great to see all the residents’ and local groups who opposed Solum’s plans (I’m not aware of any that supported Solum) working together to persuade Boris to overturn the Council’s poor decision.

    A collective objection from all the groups would significantly add to all the individual letters and all the petition signatures.

    Here are just a few of the potential groups, I’m sure there are many more: Cole Park, Heatham, Mary’s Terrace, , Sherland, Eel Pie, York House Soc, Twick Soc, Ted Soc, River Crane, various Environmental and Traders groups etc

  7. mike

    my neighbours have started a petition which is wonderful news. They hope to approach the mayors office or alternatively raise a war chest for judiucial review. Is anyone in your neighbourhood doing the same?

    • This is indeed good news, but, at the risk of nagging and if you are not already doing so, I would urge you to copy TRAG in and liaise with them on what you submit to the Mayor. De facto, TRAG has been leading local opposition to Solum and we would not want the Council or anyone else in officialdom to pull “a divide-and-rule” stunt on us, would we? I do not speak for TRAG but I believe they are already turning their thoughts to the possibility of judicial review if appeal to the Mayor is not successful. That will undoubtedly require a fighting fund and it is very encouraging that you and your neighbours are beginning to address this. Again, liaising with TRAG on this is the way to go as they will need to know what support is in place on a street-by-street basis. All the best.

  8. mike

    there is now a full petition at the TRAG website. please sign up if you oppose this.

    • twickerman

      I’m amazed that the TRAG petition doesn’t mention two of the three reasons for refusal discussed by planning committee members:
      1. Height, scale and massing that grossly exceeds the Council’s SPD and DMP planning guidelines
      2. Demonstrable harm to Mary’s Terrace and Cole Park Road residents in terms of height and sense of enclosure (Cllrs voted 5:0 in support of this reason for refusal).
      For this reason I’ve written directly to the Mayor asking him to REFUSE permission.
      I suggest everyone else who wants to see Solum monster stopped writes to Boris at: mayor@london.gov.uk

      • The URL for the petition is in Phil Manning’s post above: http://trag-sos.moonfruit.com/

        I think the reason for not mentioning these issues in the petition is that they are not matters for the Mayor to consider: he is only concerned with strategic all-London issues, e.g. the supply of affordable housing.

        I can’t imagine him overruling the decision of a Tory council to accept the advice of their planning professionals that the lengthy Section 106 conditions imposed on Solum are enough to justify approving this planning application. The Solum Towers are coming, like it or not.

      • twickerman

        In reply to Chris Squire, the Mayor objected to Solum’s previous application on the grounds of height and scale.

        I hope Boris will object to the current application on the basis that it will have an equally harmful impact and is only marginally lower in height.

        Whether he will be overturn the Conservative decision that was almost certainly influenced by Government (as a result of Solum and RFU lobbying) is debatable.

        But hey, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

  9. Mary's Terrace Resident

    Hear, hear

    As Cllr Gibbons succinctly summarised…’Mary’s Terrace residents have been dumped on from all directions, both during construction and upon completion’.

    He might have gone on to add: so have all other Twickenham residents, only not from such a massive height. Had he done so, the chairman would probably have switched off his microphone as he did to Cllr Naylor.

  10. Phil Manning

    I watched the whole planning meeting on TRAG’s website a few nights ago and was not impressed with the way the meeting was handled, particularly the way the (understandably emotional) representative of St Mary’s Terrace was pressed to finish his lucid submissions. Solum’s architect was effectively allowed the floor later in the meeting even though he was not registered to speak. The timing of the meeting just before Christmas was a disgrace.

    Yes, we all want an improved station, but not at the cost of the mediocre and overbearing buildings that are now being proposed above it, which we and our descendants will be saddled with for several decades. In any case the station proposals are not as good as they could and should be, as was eloquently and clearly spelled out by TRAG’s consultant. No doubt the RFU’s support for the current proposals in view of the descent on Twickenham of World Cup crowds in 2015 carried the day. The residents’ views have so far counted for absolutely nothing, as tends to be the way with the planning process.

    The actions of the Planning Committee are supposed to be quasi-judicial. In this matter they are nothing of the sort, as is bound to be the case when refusal of permission would result in an expensive appeal by the developers. Political and commercial clout is what counts here, not the local will or wider considerations of social amenity and quality of life. The Committee did not address with any oomph the pressures on local schools that will result from this development, traffic generation or other concerns. The vote was on political lines and the air is filled wit the smell of rats.

    The latest decision does not have to be a done deal. I do not represent TRAG, but they are now getting up a petition to Boris Johnson to overrule the recent Council decision on several grounds (this is not judicial review, which would indeed be expensive). You can access it here:
    http://trag-sos.moonfruit.com/

    Boris has pronounced that Twickenham should not be high-rise. Let’s see if he is as good as his word.

  11. Simon H

    Right-ho. Will do.

    • Good. Do share with us what you learn as the more residents know about who owns what in the town, the more they can exert moral and possible financial pressure on them to be good citizens.

      It may be, for example, that the car park belongs to the property company part of Dawnay Day, the would be developers of the previous (2002) failed scheme.

  12. Simon H

    What’s his or her address, Chris?

  13. twickerman

    The Conservatives talk about localism and big society, but when it comes to listening to residents they just don’t want to know, or more probably they think they know better.
    More than 5,000 residents signed the TRAG petition supporting low-rise station redevelopment and opposing Solum’s high-rise tower blocks.
    But, when it came to the planning committee meeting the Conservative councillors convinced themselves that there was significant local support for Solum’s schemee because a few hundered people had stated they wanted a new station – as we all do. Only a handful of the Solum supporters stated that they approved of the tower blocks.
    Lord True and co carefully arranged the special station planning committee meeting just before Christmas to minimise press coverage, and last week their PR people rolled out the quick and easy riverside improvements (approved back in March) to demonstrate how they were listening to us!
    If they were really listening they would realise that the majority of residents want a more ambitious riverside scheme that removes the road from the riverbank and regenerates the area as opposed to the quick garden makoever they have offered.

    • Simon H

      I agree with you on the riverside makeover. As far as I can make out, that grim, litter-strewn (and underused) car park directly behind the shops will be left. That needs grassing over.

  14. mike

    Vote Tory, Get Tory.
    Live and learn fellow residents, live and learn.

    isn’t this exactly what the lcoalism bill was set up for BTW?

    • Disappointed Resident

      Mike
      Believe it or not the statement below is copied directly from the Twickenham Conservatives website.
      Read it and weep or LOL or probably both!!

      Leading the way in Localism
      In May 2010 you told us you wanted a new relationship with the Council. You wanted an end to the tired Town-Hall-Knows-Best culture at the top of the last administration that ignored your views and let us all down so badly. You wanted to be heard. You told us how proud you are of the Borough and you wanted to be involved in making decisions for your own area.

      • Gareth Roberts

        What is most interesting is the scan on the Twickenham Residents’ Action Group which purports to be part of the Conservative 2010 Manifesto. (For a side note this is discussing the Riverside development but has an interesting twist at the end)

        I quote:

        Before 2006: Conservative Council Banned New High Rise in Twickenham
        In 2009 Lib Dems scrapped the ban – Now This

        WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?

        This development can’t now be stopped

        We need urgent change at the top on 6 May 2010 in Council & Government
        Return planning to local people
        Create a better Twickenham
        Change the disastrous Lib Dem high-rise plan

        Next sites for hi-rise are Twickenham Station & Post Sorting Office Site

        ———————————————————————————————

        So there you are. Completely misleading statements made in the manifesto and voters duped. Perhaps in the New Year we may see some of the seven Tory councillors representing Twickenham wards be tempted by the joys of Independent Conservatism! Or perhaps they’ll decide Party comes before People.

        • Cllr Salvoni has resigned (or is going to) so that she can move to Cornwall so there will have to be a by-election in Riverside ward which will be an interesting scrap. Who will carry the Tory banner, I wonder? The prospect of being a colleague of Cllr Naylor will put many off.

      • Disappointed Resident

        ……and by the way there’s not one mention of Twickenham Station on the Twickenham Conservatives website.
        How weird is that?
        Don’t they care or has the website been sanitised by the whips?

  15. jimbo

    Continuing the “Am I the only one..” theme: Am I the only one who remembers that the station had a major make-over only about ten years ago? This stopped the very useful car pick-up on the concourse, put in the covered bike racks and the step connection to the carpark, and erected a ridiculous piece of metal sculpture. Why in the name of Dr Beeching were the appropriate other improvements not made at that time?
    (PS I am waiting for Mr Squire to withdraw his earlier misleading statement about Countryside Properties)

  16. Gawain

    No, I’d rather have Solum than the status quo – and no-one else tabled anything else viable (money, people, not just aesthetics)

  17. Another Simon H

    Am I the only one who reads this blog who welcomes the Solum development? I suspect I am certainly the only reader whose living room window overlooks the station, anyway.

  18. jimbo

    Regarding Chris Squires’ remark about the previous Riverside development having been stopped because “Countryside properties went bust”. It in fact stopped because the former leader, Serge Lourie, said in a Council meeting (I was there and heard him) that it would be decided at the ballot box. A perfect example of hubris. As far as I know, Countryside Properties is still active
    http://www.countryside-properties-corporate.com/who-we-are.

  19. Simon H

    I can’t believe there’s no parking for the flats. That would be commercial suicide, surely?

  20. Simon H

    Erm, I’m going to get told off again, here, but isn’t the waste ground opposite the Albany rather a good place for some much-needed parking? Providing it’s not too expensive and the residents of the new block of flats get free parking.

    • ruggabugga

      Why should residents of new block get free parking, when everyone else has to pay?
      The car park might help screen solums monster from thr albany, but neighbours would feel as dumped on as Marys terrace residents
      This wouldn’t be allowed in sheen – home to the lord of truth.

  21. Gareth Roberts

    I did try to issue various online and press letters warnings about the Conservatives’ Damascene conversion to being the party of consultation before the election and have returned to the theme since. It was all so much hogwash and hooey. They can have as many barefoot consultations (whatever the flip one of those is) Twickenham Action Conferences, etc, etc but if they don’t listen to the results they’re a collosal waste of time and money. Take for instance the recent Twickenham Area Action Plan, there was consultation on the best use of the bus interchange near the Albany pub and it was decided that it should be used for housing. After the consultation had ended Nick True decided that housing wasn’t the best option and has now plonked down the suggestion that a multi-story car park is the way forward. No consultation on that.

    • ruggabugga

      Knowing how keen the Tories are on parking,they’ll probably propose a multi-storey car park on the Riverside, with a public square in the basement!
      Providing it had a Georgian facade the planning officers will recommend it, and the majority of Tory Councillors will approve it!

  22. twickerman

    Lord True seems to have swallowed Solum’s book of spin and utter bull.
    Blaming the previous administration is absolutely pathetic.
    He should have ensured that current planning policies that his adminstration developed and approved were rigourously applied, rather than disregarded by his officers and Conservative councillors.
    We all want a new station, and if Lord True had listen to thousands of his constituents he would have realised that we wanted a low-rise policy compliant station such as TRAGs Plan B, rather than Solum’s big ugly monster.
    Why were his officers not prepared to consider a Plan B as proposed by Vince Cable at Lord True’s own Twickenham Advisory Panel meeting in July?
    Twickenham will now get a huge residential development – with a slim chance of getting some funding for platform improvements. Is it just me or is this the wrong way to go about STATION redevelopment?
    Its highly disturbing that the current administration is prepared to gamble on the future of Twickenham.
    The next press release will probably state that the Council is investing in lottery tickets in the hope of funding the Twickeham Area Action Plan!

  23. Jennifer Totton

    I was finally allowed into the foyer of York House about 19..30pm having waited outside 40 minutes, there were about 80 people in the foyer and the staircase, and many more in the Web Link room, which frequently cut out of communication, there were also people outside York House who were not allowed in, due to overcrowding, We wanted to be present at the Planning Meeting but were prevented from doing so due to lack of space, and the request to relocate the meeting seemed to go unheard.
    We eventually signed a paper to register our views on yes or no to the Solum proposal to High Rise development of Ywickenham Station, what happens to this I do not know, but in my opinion the whole situation was very badly managed and what does this say about democracy ? J Totton

  24. El Brute have now issued a press release on the approval of the station plans. It’s interesting reading given that it’s the same Council that approved the plans as the one that set the SPD planning framework in the first place.

    In essence the statement says:
    * We need a smart new station (motherhood & apple pie anyone?)
    * The rugby world cup is four years away (yikes)
    * These plans were cooked up when developers were being encouraged to think of Twickenham as being amenable to hi-rise (i.e. under the Lib Dems)
    * We tried to get lower heights and Solum then “substantially modified their scheme” (hooray!)
    * We’ve had to work hard to make sure the scheme actually delivers improvements “at platform level”. (i.e improvements to the station were not really good enough on the original plans but a section 106 agreement and, we hope funding from Mr Boris, will rectify that. So the improvements to the actual station itself were not really that great. Eh?! )
    * And let’s all just move on and hope things work out OK at the station and on the sorting office site opposite.
    * Ginger beer and fruit cake all round? Rather!

    So, whilst it probably really is time to move on now, it seems that the Council have turned the decision into a mixture of a sort of victory for their powers of persuasion whilst also pointing the finger at the previous administation for encouraging this scale of development in the first place. Local politics really is a funny old world, isn’t it?

    http://www.richmond.gov.uk/station_redevelopment_plans_approved

  25. jmtwix

    Why did the planning committee go through the charade of a public meeting when the most of the public who tried to attend weren’t allowed in, and the decision appeared to have been pre-determined by the Conservative councillor majority.

  26. Artytart

    I have just sent my (shortened) tirade to the council’s planning department as follows:

    I attended the planning meeting last night and was appalled at how our elected representatives behaved. To allow the Solum plan to go through is definitely not the view of most of the people of Twickenham. Is this some sort of dictatorship – what happened to democracy. And why were 30% of the public seats taken up by Solum, leaving the residents of Twickenham outside, even shut out in the cold for some time. When the doors finally opened I was amazed to hear open lies from Solum with no possibility for anyone to oppose them. How can this work. You ask Solum about overshadowing on Marys Terrace and they reply its in the North so it doesn’t affect the terrace. Open lie. The development is clearly in the West and will take all the evening sunlight away from the 16 houses in the terrace (the only sunlight that comes into our houses from the front.) I am totally amazed and disgusted by the whole procedure and the outcome. Big shame on you.

    I have no money but I will do anything I can to fight this decision. The biggest joy would be to discover some sort of underhand goings on, as I don’t understand how our representatives misrepresent us so badly. Shame council elections aren’t sooner, maybe the outcome would have been different.
    Artytart

  27. Alex (@alex_pull)

    Very disappointed, but it seems the ‘real’ desires of theTwickenham people have gone unheard! Suppose we will have to live with decision now

  28. Not exactly a shock decision: perhaps Gollum Regeneration could rent their hulking development out to the Catholic Church. I hear its looking for new premises in Twick.

  29. TRAG have no right of appeal. Judicial review may be a possibility but it is expensive and risky.

    The Riverside scheme failed because the developer, Countryside Properties, went bust. The same thing could happen again but it’s very unlikely.

    Time to learn to live with what has been decided, I think.

  30. Yvonne Hewett

    The meeting was badly handled from the start, with the sudden need to have tickets to get into the Salon – the majority of which seem mysteriously to have gone to Solum supporters – through to the committee’s ignoring its own planning policy and deciding to approve the scheme. A real legacy for Twickenham, indeed. I hope TRAG does get it kicked into the long grass, and the town gets the station it needs.

  31. twickerman

    Dear twickerati,
    Apologies for getting technical here, but the SPD limiting height to 4-5 storeys was adopted in October 2010. More recently the Conservatives promoted the Development Management Plan (DMP) which was adopted by the Council on 01 Nov 2011. To cut a long story short DM DC3, which is part of the DMP, provides a policy background to the height restrictions contained within the SPD. As a result it should carriy more weight in Planning terms.
    Because of this, it was extremely surprising that the Conservatives voted en masse to approve Solum’s application which, as the planning officers explained, significantly exceeded the height guidelines approved in the DMP and SPD.
    The Lib Dem Councillors spoke clearly about the demonstrable harm Solum’s plans would do to Twickenham, but were outvoted 5 to 4 by the Conservatives.
    This was not a vote on the issues and what was best for Twickenham, but a vote on party lines. The Conservatives won, not because of their superior arguments, but because of their superior numbers on the planning committee.
    Councillor Naylor (aka Hard as Nayls) was the one Conservative Cllr who spoke against Solum’s plans, but he wasn’t allowed to vote, and was betrayed by his planning committee colleagues.
    So much for the Conservatives pledges of openness, fairness, consultation, big society and localism – its clearly a load of hot air, because when push comes to shove they don’t give a damn what their contituents think (as also demonstrated by the catholic school fiasco).
    TRAG have every reason to appeal the decision as the planning committee members totally disregarded their own adopted planning policy.
    This story (or more precisely 9 stroreys) is clearly far from over, and the end doesn’t appear to be nigh!
    Merry Christmas to all twickerati

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