“TWAP! In the name of love, before you break my heart!” as The Supremes didn’t sing back in 1965. But they might have done had they been living in Twickenham rather than the Motor City and whilst taking a keen interest in the regeneration of the town (48 years in the future). That makes next to no sense but luckily a plan going before Richmond Council’s cabinet on 16th May is a little grounded in reality.
In support of its Twickenham Action Plan (aka TWAP) El Brute is proposing to buy a piece of land for the good of us all. Huzzah! Probably. The site in question is on the corner of King Street and Water Lane. Or to be precise it’s 1, 1a and 1b King Street (namely Santander, M&Co and Superdrug) and 2/4 Water Lane (the car park area behind the bank). The intention? To open up the corner of Water Lane, King Street and Church Street into more of a plaza-like thing, and make better use of the area behind Santander. This is likely to involve linking up the space with the service road that runs along the top of the Jubilee Gardens. Furthermore, by giving the Council ownership of all the land between King Street and Twickenham Embankment it would allow for a more coherent approach to improving and developing this valuable piece of Twickenham’s riverside. And that’s the tricky part, ‘improving’ is not always the same as ‘developing’ and one person’s exciting new development is another’s blot on the landscape. Needless to say any building project won’t be without cost and involving a commercial partner whose objectives might not be quite to the liking of every single person in Twickenham who’s ever held an opinion could present some challenges. Remember the plans for the pool site? Course you do, but we live in hope.
There might also be some who wonder how the Council can start buying up land during a recession but with the plot on the market, it does feel like a real opportunity for El Brute to invest in something that will help deliver a long-term improvement for Twickenham. And, when it comes to considering the options in detail, keeping the huge asset that is Twickenham’s river frontage open for the enjoyment of residents and visitors alike should be at the top of the list.
More on this story to follow. Probably.
* Richmond Council papers on the plan
* Richmond Council Cabinet Agenda
* Twickenham Riverside Blog – background on the site
And so there we have it. Solum Regeneration’s plans for Twickenham station will go ahead after all. Well, we say ‘after all’ but there’s no sense of surprise here at twickerati HQ in the light of today’s Court announcement chucking out TRAG’s appeal against the scheme’s approval. None.
A station. In Twickenham
When El Brute (that’s ‘LBRuT’ to the uninitiated) approved the plans in December 2011 amid rowdy scenes at York House, that moment marked the end of any serious opportunity to get the development changed. Local Twickenham agitators, TRAG, have battled hard to get the Council’s decision reversed, first through a judicial review and then by taking their case to the Court of Appeal but today’s ruling surely marks the end of the line for opposition to the scheme. Or rather, it marks the end of the line for any credible means of getting the development changed.
Lord True is delighted. Can you picture his smiling face? In the Richmond Council Press Release the Blue Baron, the Duke of York [House], the Dear Leader says: “I welcome the Court’s decision today and I hope that we can finally lay this matter to rest and move forward with creating a train station that is fit for purpose”. In fact we agree with most of that. Despite all the shenanigans and the flaws in the Solum plan, it is time to move on.
If you’ve got a bit of spare time and you want to help people in your local community, you could do a lot worse than have a wander down to the Richmond Volunteering Fair on Thursday 9th May. What’s going on? Good question, glad you asked. There will be over 35 organisations and charities showcasing what they do and looking for new volunteers. Whether it’s helping out with arty stuff, young people’s stuff, old people’s stuff, health stuff, environmental stuff or just some other kind of stuff there’s likely to be something that suits you. We’re talking ’bout the likes of Age UK, Orleans House Gallery, Richmond Carers’ Centre, River Thames Boat Project, Victim Support, Shooting Star Chase and loads more. It all takes place at Clarendon Hall, York House and runs from 1.00pm to 7.00pm. Drop on by, why don’t you?
* The Richmond Volunteering Fair
UPDATE: Deadline for online voting is Thur 16th May.
Previously: Back on the subject of Heathrow expansion, next week El Brute will be sending out ballot cards to voters in the Borough to allow them to have their say on the matter. The poll will provide an opportunity for residents to confirm that they don’t want a third runway at the airport and nor do they want any increase in flights. The deadline for voting will be 16th May, although the precise date on which the foregone conclusion will be announced has yet to be confirmed.
Residents wanting further information about what a third runway and an increase in flights might mean for them can find out more from the Richmond Council website. There will also be information stalls set up around the Borough on specific days. In Twickenham the info-stall will appear on 23rd April at our very own ‘speakers corner’, namely on King Street outside Santander bank. And if you want to get really heated, there will be a Question Time type event in Richmond on the evening of Friday 3rd May. Expect Vince, Zac, the Blue Baron Lord True, and others to show up to express their opposition to expansion of the airport. The Council are even hoping to find a pro-expansion lobbyist or two to sit on the panel and be shouted down by residents.
Ooh. And there’s a YouTube video too where the great and the good from the local political scene voice their concerns about Heathrow Expansion.
So, will it be useful for Richmond Council to know that 83% of the people that voted (as opposed to say 79.2%) are opposed to Heathrow expansion? Perhaps. But then again, perhaps a quick opinion poll could have done it more cheaply.
* Richmond Council ‘Be Heard’ – voting deadline: Thur 16th May
* Cross party Richmond Council You Tube video
* Previously on twickerati (including Zac’s mega-runway-rally on 27th April)
Remember all that guff in the Council’s Highways Improvement Plan about getting rid of the cycle lanes in central Twickenham. Of course you do. It was a right old dog’s dinner of a proposal wasn’t it? Obviously some self-styled experts somewhere felt that improving the lot of cyclists and encouraging more people onto bikes would be best served by getting rid of bike lanes and forcing cyclists to mix with motorised traffic in the busiest roads in the town centre. Luckily some people disagreed. Richmond Cycling Campaign and others have lobbied for changes to the plan and, to be fair to the Council, they have listened.
According to Tim Lennon’s article on the Richmond Cycling Campaign website, the latest proposals from El Brute will see cycle lanes re-instated in the plan for King Street and London Road and will also see improvements for cyclists at the Cross Deep junction. There’s also an idea to establish a contraflow cycle lane running up Church Street to help people avoid the frantic King Street / York Street / London Road intersection (or ‘junction of doom‘ as Tim calls it) if they want to. Together with a few other bits and pieces this all sounds like a significant improvement on the previous plan. You can read more on the RCC website.
Meanwhile the rozzers have been out and about clamping down on motorists using the cycle lane on the London Road bridge. The boys in blue have been dishing out fixed penalty notices to drivers who’ve chosen to drive in the cycle lane. Good for them we say – the police that is, not the drivers – especially if it persuades school minibuses and council vehicles not to drive in the lane. A little bit like those pictured below, for example.
London Road bike (and van) lane
* Richmond Cycling Campaign Article
Richmond Council has launched yet another consultation. This time it’s about stepping up the work to regenerate and re-brand Twickenham. The initiative, which will form part of the overarching Twickenham Area Action Plan (aka the TWAP), is designed to promote the town as an attractive destination for businesses and tourists as well as boosting residents’ perceptions of their own community. External consultants were brought in to produce a blueprint of how best to make Twickenham an attractive visitor destination and promote inward investment. Residents will now be asked to have their say.
The main proposal, which is likely to cause anger in some quarters is to radically re-brand the town by reflecting its status as the home of Richmond Council.
COUNCIL TAX FREEZE
And in other news, the Dear Leaders in York House have announced that council tax in the borough will be frozen again this year. Good news for residents feeling the squeeze of continued recession. In the accompanying press release, Deputy Leader of Richmond Council, Geoffrey Samuel [for whom we don't yet have a nickname but are now working flat out to deal with that] said: “Over the past three years we have had an intensive efficiency programme, which has already generated more than £20m of savings… Further savings must be made and our plans include a further £10m+ savings in the next 2 years. Our aim will remain to deliver the lowest possible increase in Council Tax whilst maintaining or improving the services that residents tell us they value the most”.
It’s that tricky old balancing act between keeping residents onside in terms of the bills we pay, prioritising and delivering services (where one person’s irrelevance can be another’s crucial piece of council support) and responding to the cuts in local authority funding being passed down from Westminster. So, that good news on council tax bills for the majority of residents could be less good for those where services are reduced or where savings have a direct impact on jobs, especially if it’s your job.
Yep, it sure is tricky! And that is why we say ‘good luck with all of that’, to Mr Samuel, the Deputy Dear Leader of El Brute and Cabinet Member for Finance or, to use his new street name… G-Sam.
* Richmond Council – Council Tax Freeze
TEDDINGTON LOCK BRIDGE REPAIRS
We usually leave Teddington matters to those in the know, namely the Teddington Town website. But, FYI, the footbridge over Teddington Lock will be closed for lighting repairs in March. Panic not, oh little ones. Or rather, don’t panic excessively, because it will only be closed during weekdays and even then will still be open for morning and afternoon school rush hours. Does the bridge have a rush hour? Probably not, but it will be open to let school types and others use it. Closure will be between 4th & 28th March, from 9.30am and 3.30pm on Mondays through to Fridays.
* El Brute & The Footbridge
Boom! It’s war! It’s long been a dream of ours to begin an article with that word de nos jours. And now that we’ve done it, what’s left? Nothing of course, all our ambitions have been fulfilled. But why the ‘boom!’ in the first place? Well, the next bitter battle in the development of Twickenham is expected to be fought over the weeks and months ahead. This time it’s the regeneration of the old Royal Mail sorting office site that is going to get people all agitated and hot under the collar. Except that it probably won’t. Why? Because the development looks like a good scheme.
Twickenham Sorting Office Site
The draft plans have been online for months and given an airing at a couple of community meetings, but it’s only now that the detailed application has been validated by El Brute that you get to take a look at the full monty on their website.
The scheme is being proposed by the developer St James and architects, JTP. And it’s at this point that we should stress that JTP are actually not, repeat not, architects, they are in fact “international place makers”. Just like you, we have no idea whatsoever who or what an “international placemaker” is, so we’ll stick with the words architects and designers for the time being.
No one loves a consultation more than us. No one, that is, except Richmond Council. And that, oh little ones, is why they’ve just launched another one.
Now, you’re thinking to yourself, “What else can there possibly be left to consult on?” And the answer of course is… schools and education again, obvs. Truth be told, this one’s about the future of the Richmond College site in Twickenham’s Egerton Road. Richmond College is the Borough’s sixth form college (in oldspeak) and offers a wide range of academic and vocational courses as well as ‘traditional’ A levels. Although the College does get some decent results, it’s not always the destination of choice for local sixth formers, many of whom head off to Esher or Strodes Colleges to continue their education. The proposals under consideration include improving facilities and partnership opportunities at the College; moving the Clarendon school for pupils with learning difficulties and special needs from Hampton to the site; and, developing a new co-educational, non-denominational secondary school. A new secondary school? Yes folks, with Lord True and his acolytes having got the controversial exclusive Voluntary Aided Roman Catholic school safely nailed down at the Clifden Road site, they’ve decided it could be time for another conversation about meeting the growing demand for secondary school places in the Borough. As was overheard recently at Ambassador’s reception, “Your Lordship! With your school consultations you are really spoiling us
OUTSOURCING PLANS RUFFLE FEATHERS
Since 2010 Conservative led Richmond Council have been working with other boroughs developing opportunities to share services. And when it comes to the provision of children’s services, they’re getting pretty chummy with Lib Dem run Kingston.
Council offices, Twickenham
In fact, the two boroughs are establishing a jointly owned organisation, ‘Achieving for Children’, to deliver children’s services in this part of south west London. It’s headed up by Nick Whitfield, formerly of Kingston Council, more recently of El Brute and who is now Joint Director of Education and Children’s Services across the two boroughs. Moving to a situation where a jointly owned body takes on this responsibility moves both councils further down the route of becoming commissioners rather than providers of local services.