As the old joke goes, when is a door not a door? And the answer? When it’s ajar, of course! In Twickenham’s case the answer is, when it’s been bricked up. But where is this particular doorway? Needless to say there’s no prize available, you’re just playing for pride here.
Well, well, well. It’s been a while since our last High Street Update hasn’t it? But that doesn’t mean it’s been all quiet on the Twickenham front. Far from it, as it happens. Here’s the skinny.
On London Road we’ve finally seen the back of that terrible pink Yummies sign. The short-lived but long-closed experiment in frozen yoghurt has been replaced by Ke Sushi, purveyors of, you’ve guessed it, sushi, to the twickerati – that’s you lot, btw. Although not exactly on Twickenham’s ‘restaurant mile’ – Richmond Road, York Street, Heath Road (and Church Street) – it might actually do quite well especially if it can drum up a decent lunchtime trade. Next door, in what used to be Max Sports, a dry cleaning service has opened going by the name of Bonjour Dry Cleaners. With several other dry cleaners already in town, will Bonjour be a case of “Say hello, wave goodbye”, or could it be more a matter of “Suits you, sir”?
At the junction of London Road and Whitton Road, what was previously the Kaka takeaway, aka AKA’s, has now become Margherita Pizza. We assume other varieties of pizza are available. Our suggestion for a late night speciality would be a doner kebab pizza with gravy… topped with guinea fowl cooked three ways and served with beetroot paint and a basil gel. Look out for that in the upcoming series of Masterchef. We reckon old Greg Wallace would bloody love tucking into that little lot. We’re not so sure if the glum faced one would be quite so keen though.
Sticking with food, Blah Blah Blah is still closed but it’s now got a sign up saying that the lease is for sale. After stints as Bibi, Heavenly Dish, at least two versions of Karahi Spices and most recently Blah Blah Blah itself, some might be forgiven for thinking that this isn’t the best spot to run a restaurant. So, expect a new eatery to open there very soon.
It’s bad news for parents wanting to send their children to the planned Turing House free school. And it’s bad news for the school and its sponsors too. Despite being on the admissions list of schools accepting pupils for Year 7 entry in 2014 – and offering places just a fortnight ago – the school has had to announce that its opening will be put back by a year to 2015. Why? It’s all down to that tricky but rather essential issue of having a site on which to operate. The lack of a suitable site has dogged the free school plan since its early days. It missed out on the Clifden Road site in Twickenham when El Brute opted to give that to the new St Richard Reynolds school and alternative ideas, including setting up home at NPL in Teddington, also never materialised. Turing House did have plans for a temporary site but Schools Minister, Lord Nash, opted to defer the opening to 2015 as a result of concerns over its permanent home.
The school’s supporters have worked long and hard to try to secure a site. An independent observer might wonder where Richmond Council fits into this picture. El Brute’s decision to facilitate Clifden Road going to a voluntary aided school and its breathless descriptions of Haymarket Media’s potential involvement in redeveloping the Richmond College site at Egerton Road site (complete with community new free school) don’t seem to have rubbed off in helping Turing House secure a location. Could they have done more? We’ve no idea, but ignorant folk might suggest that a ‘parent-powered’ free school is exactly the sort of thing that the government’s schools supremo and Tracy Island resident, Michael Gove would approve of. Or rather, as Mr Gove would probably insist, it’s “exactly the sort of thing of which he would approve”.
As for those parents who had been offered places at Turing House (along with a second choice option) they’re now having to weigh up their choices and see what they can find among the existing local schools. Meanwhile a parents’ meeting is scheduled for 25th March at 7.30pm at Clarendon Hall, York House. Oh, and the Council will have to revise down the stats in its press release which showed 71% of Richmond pupils securing a place at their first choice of secondary school.
Marks out of ten? You decide.
* Turing House
Calm down, it doesn’t exist and there’s not even a plan. But apart from those small obstacles it does sound good doesn’t it? A brief tweet last night (n.b. all tweets are brief) from @julie_twickers sparked a flurry of retweets and responses. What did she say? Well, she simply said: “Wouldn’t it be great to have a cinema back in Twickenham? How could we progress this idea? @twickerati @twickenhamlocal @AmyDyduch”. Did we say ‘flurry’ of retweets? It was more like a bloody frenzy. A Twickenham-esque restrained frenzy, perhaps.
So could it work? Would it work? And where would it be? And who would go there? And why? Enough already! You’ve probably got the idea by now. A multiplex? That’s not going to happen. An arty little affair showing the better class of films just like Richmond Filmhouse? Well, that’s a maybe because Richmond Filmhouse is no more – it’s the Curzon Richmond these days, part of a small chain. How about something like the Olympic Cinema in Barnes showing films with a trendy cafe bar to boot? Sounds good but would it be sustainable in Twickenham? Perhaps.
“Now this is not spring. It is not even the beginning of spring. But it is, perhaps, the end of the winter”. That’s what Winston Churchill probably would not have said had he been in Twickenham last weekend. Perhaps the long dead leader might have been in town for the rugby? Who knows? Anyway, the sun appeared overhead and it actually felt properly spring-like at last. And here’s the proof! It’s photo of boats and blue sky at Eel Pie Island from Garth Tucker.
If you love big aeroplanes flying low overhead then Heathrow’s expansion plans are just the ticket for you. Despite the intention to kick any official decision on a third, or even fourth, Heathrow runway into the post-2015 election long grass, there’s still plenty of lobbying and debate going on. The airport wants to hear the views of local residents and businesses (apparently) and there’s an opportunity to provide feedback up until 16th March. It’s focused on their shortlisted proposal of a third runway to the north west of the airport. The main point seems to be about gauging people’s priorities in terms of their concerns. In other words, it’s very much about how to address the issues “when planning a new runway” rather than the question of whether or not there should be one in the first place. Obviously the airport’s view on this is a resounding ‘yes’.
There’s also a series of “local consultation events” where folks like you (yes, you) can turn up, see the plans in more detail and ask questions. Several dates have been and gone but remaining fixtures include sessions in Richmond (5th March, Duke St Church, 12.00-8.00pm), Hounslow (6th March) and Brentford (8th March).
So, if you want to find out more, tell Heathrow what you think of their plans, or simply need somewhere to dodge the latest downpour, then these could be for you.