“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.
The concept of an indoor market in Twickenham sounds intriguing. When local resident Alan Winter wrote to the Richmond & Twickenham Times about his idea and also posted details about it on the ‘Your News’ section of twickerati
Twickenham. More spark needed. Apply within.
it generated a good deal of interest. In fact, here at twickerati
HQ we thought it warranted a place on the front page of the site. So, with plenty of lively debate on here and elsewhere about the state of our high streets, we hand over to Alan to explain his idea and how it could work. Oh, and he’d like your support too…
“An indoor community market. Could it happen in Twickenham? I think it could. Since floating the idea a month ago I have received messages of goodwill and support for the idea from many people. The positive response has encouraged me to pursue the vision as an active project. Here’s why and how it would work…
Heath Road now hosts an unacceptable number of empty retail and commercial properties. In the 50′s and 60′s this was a busy and varied shopping area with many specialist shops. It is now a sad looking entry route from the west into Twickenham, full of eateries that often don’t last very long or estate agents, barber shops and charity shops. The road is ripe for some serious thinking on a subject that was previously dropped when Poundland took over the then vacant Woolworth site.
So let’s consider the idea of a midweek and weekend indoor market. The idea here is a simple one. The empty shops that are all clustered around Rubens excellent bakery are empty for a reason. These are some of the smallest retail units in Heath Road. Traditionally they would have been taken on by budding entrepreneurs and start-up businesses but in today’s climate these units represent too much of a financial risk for a start-up. Business rates and rents are coming in at a minimum of £20,000 p.a. This is before shop fitting, stocking, insurance and utility costs.
So we need somewhere for the small retail business person to get a foot in the door. Hence Twickenham Indoor Market. Stallholders would be local resident entrepreneurs and craft persons who are unable to afford current retail rents and business rates but who would like somewhere to try out and sell their wares…
Sir? Madam? Can we tempt you with a brief High street update? Indeed, we would be sincerely honoured if you were to peruse the following article. Err, like, now dudes.
York Street’s in a right old state of flux. Carpet House is closing down and the Rugby Store is moving on. From all the newspaper plastered over the windows recently it looks as if Hair Design (10 York Street) is no more. Work going on inside suggests a new shop will be opening there soon selling phone accessories, gadgets, mobile top-ups, sunglasses and the like [Update: It's called Khan Communication]. Din’s Grill – the intermittently open takeaway sans pareil - is getting a refurb and a new independently run takeaway will open in its place; something a little bit different we hear. And it does seem that we may finally see some movement in what was the old Shanghai Village restaurant with the long-awaited (by some, perhaps) arrival of the estate agents Foxtons at 20-24 York Street. A few steps along, the short-lived Bathrooms4All (now Bathrooms4None) store could be getting new occupiers soon…
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)
Film buffs among the twickerati might fancy a visit to Cannes, Venice or Sundance (is that even a real place?) but there’s a new kid on the block who’s going to give them a run for their money, whilst pushing the envelope and raising the bar. Do what? It’s only bloody well the first Twickenham Film Festival, isn’t it?
Organised by Twickenham Alive with support from El Brute, the R FU and the R&TT among others, the festival has seen a veritable deluge of entries. The theme for submissions of 10 minute shorts was “Where You Live” and films have been received, not just from around the local area, but from across the UK and even overseas. Among the local entries is The Magick of Twickenham, produced and directed by Toby Alington and set in Church Street and by the Naked Ladies, or ‘the Oceanides’ if you want to get all fussy about it. There are also films from The Teddington Society, students from Richmond College, Richmond Adult College and even regular, normal members of the public.
Did the team at twickerati submit an entry? Well, that really would be telling wouldn’t it. In other words, an unequivocal ‘no’.
The glittering awards ceremony is certain to be an interesting evening, so if you fancy getting along to hear the winners announced and see a selection of the best entries then you’ll need to leave your superyacht at home and get over to Twickenham Stadium on 26th April. The event runs from 7.30pm to 9.30pm. It’s free but you will need to register in advance.
“All right Mr. De Mille, I’m ready for my close-up.”
* Twickenham Film Festival
EXPO A GO GO
And if that’s not enough for you, on the same day in the very same place the Richmond Business Expo takes place. It will feature over 80 local businesses gathered in one spot to network, talk to potential customers, suppliers and even to regular punters about what they can offer. Expect a right old mix from web designers to solicitors to fitness experts to the Council. It’s also free to attend and might be worth a look especially if you want to ‘shop local’ for your business services. The Expo runs from 10.30am to 6.30pm at Twickenham Stadium.
* Richmond Business Expo 2013
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
There’s nothing like an airport to bring out the nimby in us all. Well, maybe that or a nuclear power plant… or a new abattoir. Or perhaps even a nuclear powered abattoir with a giant picture of TV’s Nick Knowles on the side? How d’ya like them apples?!
Although Howard Davies is not due to report on Heathrow expansion until after the next election, funny dat, the war of words rumbles on with claim and counter claim from the various lobby groups. Residents and local authorities are fretting about increased noise levels from a third – and possibly fourth – runway. Millions if not billions of Londoners lives will be ruined by the roar of jet engines overhead as we all gag on a smog of aviation exhaust. Airport and business types tell us that’s all a load of scaremongering and that the extra capacity will give us a much-needed economic boost as futuristic planes take-off and land with about as much noise as feather colliding with a big fluffy ball of cotton wool at 2 miles per hour.
In other words, we can we believe any of them? Dunno. So what’s the latest anyway? The 2M Group which represents local authorities concerned about the environmental impact of Heathrow on their communities, and which includes our very own Richmond Council, has warned that, “A four-runway Heathrow could blight the lives of three million people and spoil the quiet enjoyment of huge parts of our city”. This would represent a mahoosive increase from the 1 million currently estimated to be affected. Earlier this week the Evening Standard published a ‘noise contour’ map produced by 2M showing the full noise impact of four runways. Twickenham’s already affected by noise but more runways would lead to changing flight paths and potentially more disruption. For many other areas it could lead to significant increases. Needless to say pro-airport lobbyists rubbished the map saying that the runways would not necessarily in those specific positions and that, hey, maybe just the three runways would be enough thanking you kindly.
Who’s right and what’s to be done? Well, the battle of claim and counter claim, political lobbying and carefully placed press briefings will continue. That’s a given. And as part of all of that local(ish) MP Zac Goldsmith is helping organise a so-called “mega-rally” on 27th April to show the strength of opposition to Heathrow expansion. Although it’s billed as an all-party affair with a range of speakers, Boris will show up to steal some limelight. Make of that what you will. Time to get your placards out and start waving them around? And no Boris, that’s not a euphemism.
The mega-rally takes place from 9.30am-10.30am at Barn Elms Playing Fields, Barnes, SW13 9SA.
* Evening Standard ‘Exclusive’
* 2M Group
* Zac Goldsmith and his Heathrow Mega Rally
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.
A fight in Court Way, Twickenham left two young men needing hospital treatment for stab wounds. Both have since been discharged. The incident took place on Monday afternoon and, according to witnesses quoted in the Richmond & Twickenham Times, involved a group of about 30 people. On Twitter @vanderhayes tweeted us, “Walked past a cordon, blood on the pavement and a cop talking about someone stabbed in the chest”. Although the fight took place near Richmond College, the College issued a statement to point out that “none of these young males are students at Richmond College”. Police have asked that witnesses or people with any other information should contact them.
* Richmond & Twickenham Times
* Metropolitan Police