High Street Update: with added TWAP

New in Town

So then, what bright new diversions have we got to amuse us on the High Street this January? Not a lot to be honest but we just couldn’t enter the new year without bringing you a spanking new High Street Update. It’s simply not the done thing. Our previous update was jam packed with stuff, what with Belmont closing, the return of The Fox and Marc Jason’s Shoeworld opening and all that. We think we had it all covered. So what now? Is there even anything left to look forward to? Ever?

Well, the Gurhka’s Inn is now up and running at 25 York Street and alongside it at number 27 in what used to be Sagar (Indian restaurant) is now Atithi (Indian restaurant). Why? Because you can never have too many South Asian eateries, apparently.

Heading up Heath Road to opposite the Alsford timber yard and next to the kebab shop, two empty units are being turned into… a deli grocer / cafe. Are you spotting a theme developing? We don’t want to sound like a bunch of miseries but delicatessens don’t have a great track record in the town. London Road, King Street and Church Street have all played host to short-lived delis in the last few years. Will this one work? We hope so and the market is probably more receptive now than it was back then, but will it be too far from the Sandys / Laverstoke axis to get sufficient foodie footfall? It’s certainly a risk. And as to whether we really need another cafe in Twickenham, well, that’s a subject for heated debate across the whole of Middlesex County. But we like the idea of a decent deli carrying a diverse range of stock so good luck to ‘em.

Meanwhile spies report that the premises of long defunct hair salon, “Forever” on London Road is showing signs of life. That sure was one hairdresser that didn’t live up to its name. Anywayyy… we say “spies” but what we really mean is that it’s got a big “Let By” sign over it and a bloke was recently spotted inside fiddling with a plug socket. There you go. PROOF! We await full details but apparently it’s going break new ground in Twickenham by trialling the sale of “curryccinos”! Imagine it, “Would you like garam masala sprinkled on top, madam?”

Shops. What shops?
Rambling on… with a whole shiny year ahead of us, perhaps it’s time to ponder on what shops Twickenham needs in its shopping streets especially as we have quite of lot of retail roadage. From Richmond Road near Lebanon Park through to Heath Road up by Twickenham Green, including Church Street and London Road, there’s a huge amount of shop frontage to fill with cafes, chemists, charity shops, independent traders, estate agents and more charity shops. There’s over a mile’s worth of stuff. With Richmond and Kingston down the road and out-of-town and online shopping becoming the norm for many, there simply isn’t the volume of trade going on locally that there once was. Or not for the same kind of things. And anyway, who has the patience to stroll up and down a high street buying 20 individual items from 20 different shops? You don’t that’s for sure. Unless it’s for some week-end leisure activity, of course. Ahh, so that’s what the cafes are for.

With this in mind it’s worth a look at El Brute’s Twickenham Area Action Plan which is now out for your comments and consultation. It’s good to have plan for the town event if it does contain a lot of what our American friends might refer to as motherhood and apple pie. After all, what’s not to like about a thriving retail, tourist, rugby destination full of wonderful shops (both chain and independent), restaurants, cafes, bars and community open space complete with children’s choir? Yes please to all of that! And the money to fund it. And the appropriate landlord and planning permissions too! One thing the TWAP does do is suggest the Twickenham retail area is focused more heavily around King Street, York Street and Church Street. To get some kind of ‘shopping critical mass’ does seems pretty sensible even if that does sound like the freakish lovechild of Mary Portas and Professor Brian Cox. It would help to create a clear shopping destination but they’ll have to move fast on York Street if that’s not to become wall to wall bars, cafes and curry houses. In fact, did you know that two more cafes have opened since you started reading this article?

LINKS:
Twickenham Area Action Plan

BTW, our last High Street Update is here, or just wend your way back in time by clicking on the “High Street updates” on the Categories Index on the right.

30 Comments

Filed under Food & Drink, High Street Updates, Local Issues & News

30 responses to “High Street Update: with added TWAP

  1. Steve P

    A (relatively reliable) source tells me that the new tenant of Forever plans to open…another hairdressing salon! Is cutting hair the most bombproof business there is? Rumours of a name change to Whatever are unconfirmed.

  2. Mouse droppings appear to be the least of their problems…bloke down pub told me tax was the issue…..as I said bloke down pub told me so who knows if its true……all hear say…..

  3. Its a pity in some ways but my partner said she thought even the shops were unclean. Now i feel a bit sick ! But we switched to greggs for the bread a while ago

  4. I can see the excellent Gails chain moving in…

  5. ruggabugga

    Unfortunately, Belmont closed before they were able to sell their seasonal speciality – Christmouse cake.
    Boom boom!

  6. ruggabugga

    Um yes, a bakery that sells delicious chocolate mice crispy cakes.

  7. _BigTone

    A new, independent bakery would be nice. One that sells fresh, quality and fair priced produce… it doesn’t need to be an upmarket establishment in my opinion.

  8. Simon H

    A new, upmarket bakery would be nice. Whatever happened to white loaves shaped like hedgehogs? I used to love those, back in the Eighties. Any store that produces those will have my undying custom.

    Has anyone been in Marc Jacobs Shoes yet? It’ll be lovely when they get round to unpacking.

  9. oh dear

    …and I thought those were poppy seeds on the rolls :-(

  10. Gareth Roberts

    I’m afraid there’s been something of a grim press release put out today which won’t make comfortable reading for previous customers of Belmont – hope you’ve had your tea

    MOUSE DROPPINGS LEAD TO £10K FINE FOR BAKER

    A Twickenham baker has been hit with a £10,000 fine after being caught preparing bread, cakes and pastries in kitchens where environmental health officers found dozens of mouse droppings. Environmental Health officers acted after a tip off from a resident who found a dropping in a bread roll.

    Belmont Bakery owner Stephen Doughty admitted charges of breaching the Food Hygiene Regulations 2006 when he appeared at Richmond Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday 4 January. As well as the fine, he was also ordered to pay £6,000 towards the Council’s costs in prosecuting the case.

    Cllr Virginia Morris, Richmond Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “Belmont Bakery clearly broke the rules and sold food which was prepared in what can only be described as filthy conditions. As well as a breach of the law, Mr Doughty breached the trust of all his customers, who shopped there assuming proper standards of hygiene were being met.

    “Customers will rightly be horrified to hear about the extent of the mouse droppings and dirt in the food preparation rooms and I am pleased to see the level of fines imposed by the magistrates reflects the seriousness of the offences.

    “Even as the Council faces the toughest economic climate in recent years, we’re still protecting local people from bad businesses. Belmont Bakery has now closed down for other reasons but we would require Mr Doughty to carry out a very thorough deep clean and repair of the whole premises if he re-opens in the future.”

    Following the tip off, a surprise inspection was carried out in October 2010 which found large accumulations of dirt, dust and food waste on the floor and shelving. Mouse droppings were found on floors, under trays and shelving and on window ledges. Parts of the building were in disrepair and it was not deemed to be pest proof. Droppings were also found around sacks of flour, and a mouse was seen by inspectors. Thick layers of grease, food and dust, and more droppings were found on cooking and preparation equipment.

    While the ground floor inspection was being carried out, Council officers heard the sound of a vacuum cleaner in a first floor preparation area. The officers ordered it to be stopped to prevent evidence being removed and when opened, further mouse droppings were found.

    Another inspection in June 2011 found thick build-ups of dough and dirt in and on a fridge, on baking trays and no sign of any soap or towels around a wash basin. There were also holes in the walls which were large enough for mice to get through. A walk-in fridge had a large amount of food debris and dirt in and around it. Tiles in the preparation room were missing, exposing bare bricks and plaster.

  11. Andrew Hall

    What the high street needs now is a baker’s, given the demise of Belmont. The obvious candidate would be Teddington/Hampton Hill’s Cavan, which could bring something new to the High Street.

  12. Simon H

    And some of the new restaurants and cafes are the result of a change of use.

  13. Simon H

    That’s true, but can’t they work with landlords to establish some kind of coherent strategy? After all, it’s not good for the landlords to have empty properties.

  14. Anonymous

    There’s not a great deal the council can do to prevent a business opening up in a vacant property if there is no change of use planning consent required.

  15. Simon H

    The thing I do find really upsetting is the way the council and/or landlords (and bank managers who can’t be doing any due dilligence on the loans they’re handing out to start up businesses) allow so many obviously doomed restaurants to open, at the expense of existing businesses. I’ve only lived in Twickers for seven years, but I have seen perhaps 30 food outlets open and close. Why can’t the town centre manager, if he/she has any power, do something proactive to stop this?

  16. jimbo

    simon H – one can hardly call the Queens Hall a “failing building”. It is used to capacity (according to Frank Perry) for Busen activities – see Rich & Twick article.

    • Simon H

      I perhaps don’t know enough about the Queens Hall to have commented on that specifically. And I certainly appreciated that not all business on Heath Road are failing (the sports shop is my favourite shop in the world). I’d just like to see a much more pragmatic approach to the town centre adopted and, if retail units consistently show themselves to be unsustainable (and there are at least 30 of these in Twickenham), then they should be allowed to be made into residential properties.

  17. the old Bombay Brasserie takeaway/delivery outlet on the Whitton Rd is now a garish neon fried chicken place :-(

    I suppose it will sell a lot of chicken to the college students.

    • Simon H

      On that note, how come Aka’s is still trading? It was refused change-of-use planning permission. I know, because I objected to it and was sent a letter by the council saying that it’s application had been turned down.

      • Twickerman

        (K)aka’s was refused permission for change of use.
        It previously had permission for restaurant use. The change of use requested was to add take-away business.
        Whether the planning decision is being complied with is another matter entirely.

    • Twickerman

      I spoke to the owner the day before the chicken place opened and he advised me they would be serving portugese style grilled chicken and thai curries as well as fried chicken.
      He was rushing to open in time for Quins sell-out Big Game 4, so students aren’t his only taget market.
      I haven’t tried it yet as I’m still mourning the loss of the Bombay’s excellent fish curries.

  18. Phil Manning

    In this context we are confronted with the possibility of the loss of the Queen’s Hall behind 9 King Street, once the theatre where Lily Langtry made her stage debut. At the moment it houses the Busen martial arts school, who will have to move if the current owners’s application to build flats on the site is granted. There is a story on it in this week’s Richmond & Twickenham Times and those wishing to comment on the planning application can find its details here:
    http://idoxwam.richmond.gov.uk/WAM/showCaseFile.do?&appNumber=11/3695/FUL
    To give an idea of current objections to the proposals I offer the following, which I have just posted on the Council’s website:
    “This proposal is objectionable on the grounds of change of use, as it will mean the loss of an important potential community space in the centre of Twickenham on a sensitive site so close to the river. More riverside flats: how very imaginative (not).
    The associations with Lily Langtry already mentioned by others underline the historical and cultural importance of the existing hall and the Council should exercise particular care when deciding on the future of this site, particularly – as others have also mentioned – in the context of the future of the riverside as a whole.
    Twickenham is in danger of sinking under a weight of semi-successful or doomed eateries and chi-chi apartments. The town centre is unsatisfactory on a number of levels as the current Council undoubtedly recognises (notwithstanding the recent lamentable decision to allow the Solum proposals for redevelopment of the station) and the future of this riverside site should be addressed strategically AND by the Planning Committee in session FOLLOWING fuller public consultation.
    Yes, I am shouting!
    For the record I support and repeat all objections so far appearing here in response to this application, in particular those of Mr Richard Mellor.”

    Not very technical, I grant you. For informed comment Mr Mellor’s submissions are recommended reading.
    Happy New Year everyone.

    • Simon H

      But if failing cafes/shops aren’t allowed to become chi chi flats, what will they become? Such residential properties are a long way better than boarded up retail premises, surely?
      It’s unfortunate if the Lilly Langtree building is lost, but you can’t not change the use of failing buildings just for the sake of the memory of a long-dead entertainer.

      • Phil Manning

        Simon, I am by no means opposed to some reversion to residential use in the centre of Twickenham, as you boldly suggested in one of your earlier posts, although I would question whether it should be quite so extensive as you propose (the west end of Heath Road has a more open ambience and with much better lighting and wider pavements than King Street, as well as a variety of business in larger premises: hardware, bathroom alterations, flooring etc.). The Queen’s Hall represents a diversity of use as well as a piece of heritage that should be preserved in the heart of Twickenham. It is also a successfully used space at the moment, as attested to by the fact that over 1,000 people will apparently have to find somewhere else to practise martial arts if the current owners succeed in their planning application. Queen’s Hall is one of a number of buildings/spaces highlighted in this campaign (which, by the way, I do not represent):http://www.memoriesoftwickenhamriverside.com
        Also, one cannot simply build more residences without considering related infrastructure, not least schools, transport, parking and social facilities. What Twickenham urgently needs is strategic planning and consideration for heritage is part of that (we will all be “long-dead” one day, after all).

  19. Simon H

    Aha, my pet subject. Here’s my action plan:

    Twickers can’t hope to compete meaningfully with Kingston and Richmond, and it has a lot of competition from Teddington, Whitton and central London, too.
    The current number of shops and cafes probably made sense about 20 years ago, pre the Internet and out-of-town Tescos, but not now. So, El Brute should do everything in its power to allow retail units from the snooker club onwards (towards the Green) to be converted into flats or even houses. This would concentrate shopping to a sustainable number of diverse units around King/Church Street and also increase their number of potential customers.

    It’ll take a bit of courage on El Brute’s part and they’ll have to work closely with landlords (and even offer financial incentives), but it’s entirely doable.

    If you look at that old footage on YouTube of the trolleybus service between Tedders and Twickers, you’ll see that many, many current shops were once houses, and vice versa. So major change is very doable.

  20. One of the big reasons I don’t shop in Twickenham is that the shops aren’t open at night or on Sunday. Maybe you can get away with not nights, but on Sunday Twickers is a ghost town and that is about 50% of my shopping time…

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