“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
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…
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
Strawberry Hill is up in arms, the natives with their strange customs are revolting and beautiful maidens are fainting at the thought of Horace Walpole spinning in his grave. Is it the plot of a recently discovered gothic novel? No, it’s the latest edition of the Strawberry Hill Residents Association’s newsletter. It majors on a boundary dispute that’s rocking the Hill and putting other territorial conflicts around the world into the shade. The SHRA is outraged that Twickenham has launched a vicious land grab on parts of Strawberry Hill under the auspices of Richmond Council’s ‘village plans’.
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.
The Richmond & Twickenham Times is reporting that TRAG, the Twickenham Residents’ Action Group, are seeking permission to appeal the judicial review decision on Solum Regeneration’s Twickenham station plan. You will recall that the latest twist in this long running saga was in December when the court ruled El Brute’s approval of Solum’s plan to be lawful. TRAG were not impressed. They are still hoping for their low rise ‘Plan B’ alternative to become the template for the redevelopment of the site and have now applied to the Court of Appeal for the right to challenge the outcome of the judicial review.
Any appeal, if it goes ahead, would add further delay to the development although obsessing about completing work in time for the 2015 Rugby World Cup should not be the deciding factor in a station that Twickenham will live with for the next 30 or 40 years. Will TRAG succeed? It feels like a long shot, a very long shot when looking at the powers lined up against them and the costs involved but they may be set to have a go nevertheless.
As they’ll say in the film of this one day, “For you, TRAG, zee war is not yet over!”
* Richmond & Twickenham Times
So there we have it, the plans on the tricky issues get the green light at the Overview & Scrutiny Committee and now go back to the Council’s Cabinet for approval. However, the two controversial issues within the Street Scene and Highways Improvement plan have still not been resolved to the satisfaction of some. Moving the bus stops out of King Street to nearby roads looks set to proceed despite opposition from a local charity representing residents with mobility problems. And the battle of the bike lanes rumbles on. El Brute have made changes to the original plan (which would have seen cycle lanes disappear in King Street and London Road) by re-instating ‘advisory’ cycle lanes through the town centre but it still does not meet the expectations of those who want to make Twickenham a really great place for cyclists.
And in case you’re wondering what an advisory cycle lane is, it’s generally marked by a dashed line and cars are not supposed to drive in it… unless they really need/want to. This differs from a mandatory cycle lane which is something that cars have to keep out of. It’s da law. So, there has been some movement on the issue but the cycling lobby are still not impressed and there’s plenty of detail still to be worked through.
Meanwhile the other aspects of the plan such as advanced stops for cyclists at traffic lights, a 20mph limit, better street furniture, wider pavements, more bike parking all look set to proceed as previously planned, which is definite progress.
A Richmond Council meeting tonight (7th Jan) will see the next step on the road to improving Twickenham town centre. And when we say ‘on the road’ we really do mean it. That’s because El Brute’s ‘street scene and highways improvement’ plan goes before its Environment, Sustainability and Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee tonight (yes, that’s what it’s really called). It’s all linked to the TWickenham Action Plan…
The Council’s ideas to improve roads in central Twickenham were generally well received by the residents of this fine town. Of course they were, some good and sensible things got proposed. El Brute has recently published the highlights of its Highways and Street Scene Consultation which showed how many of those motherhood and apple pie recommendations in the plan went down with the locals. Remove unnecessary signage? Tick. Increase cycle parking? Check. Create a 20mph zone around King Street? Sounds alright, doesn’t it? Provide real time information at bus stops? You betcha!!
After an epic journey around the streets of Twickenham involving hours of diligent note taking, we are able to bring you the great twickerati “Twickenham Shopping Index”. It’s not quite the Standard & Poor’s ratings index but it is a seriously considered (if amateur*) assessment of the prospect of the town’s sometimes successful but often beleaguered retail premises. Continue reading
If you’ve been following the journey of the Twickenham Area Action Plan you’ll know that the deadline for your comments on its latest, and probably final, iteration is Friday 31st August. If you didn’t, you do now. The plan is Richmond Council’s vision for regenerating Twickenham. It covers the types of developments we might want to see in the town and ideas for improving the retail experience. “Village plans” for other parts of the Borough also have the same comments deadline.
Linked to the Twickenham Action Plan is El Brute’s ‘Street Scene and Highways Scheme’. This puts forward proposals for more immediate changes to Twickenham town centre including widening pavements, removing the bus stops (and bus lanes) from King Street and getting rid of some central cycle lanes. The bus stop and cycle lane plans have both stirred up a lot of strong opinion. Take note, any comments you have on this scheme need to be submitted separately from your comments on the main Twickenham action plan.
So, if you want to have your say (again) on any of the above then you’ve got until Friday 31st August to do it.
* Richmond Council’s Twickenham Area Action Plan
* Twickerati TWAP article + lots of your comments
* Twickerati artcile “Bye Bye Bike Lanes” + lots of your comments