Locals Left Unimpressed by Twickenham Riverside Plan

Oh dear. That wasn’t supposed to happen, was it? And yet, at the same time, it was all so predictable. The results of the El Brute consultation on its Twickenham riverside and town square proposals have been published and it seems that the locals are not hugely impressed. So much for ‘design competitions’, pop up shops and positive spin from York House, the regency style scheme featuring amphitheatre, colonnade, shops and up to 40 flats does not seem to have wowed the twickerati  (that’s you lot by the way).

The results have been analysed by ‘customer feedback solutions’ gurus Snap Surveys who probably know more about this kind of thing than you do and it’s pretty clear that the negative responses far outweigh the positive ones. The accompanying LBRuT press release says, “The Council and the architects will now carry out a detailed review of the ideas and comments put forward by the public before coming forward with ideas for development”.  It goes on to say that the Council ‘understands’ it needs to reconsider its approach to a number of areas. It certainly does.

Twickenham Embankment from Eel Pie Bridge

Twickenham Embankment from Eel Pie Bridge

Although like any survey the results are open to interpretation, some things stand out very clearly in the themes that Snap Surveys focused on. Of 754 responses received there were just 93 comments that felt the plans met the needs of the local community. That’s 12%. Not great, especially when the purpose of the plan was (and we hope still is) to regenerate the site and open up the town centre to the river. Twenty comments in the 754 were positive about the architecture. That’s 3% which, in case you’re not too good at maths, is not great either. As for the amphitheatre, 35 comments liked that. It’s true that calculating percentages out of themed responses isn’t exactly scientific even if it is fun, so do start taking pinches of salt when you get your calculator out.

In contrast to those making positive responses, negative comments about the impact on the riverside totalled 189 and a similar number, 174, felt that the plan did not meet local needs. As for the design, 142 comments didn’t like that and 117 were negative about its proposed height. In other words, on almost every count the negatives significantly outweighed the positives. This might be expected when so many people have different ideas about what should be done to the site but the lack of local enthusiasm for the proposal is telling.

The report also includes plenty of quotes from you lot, both the positive ones and the many negative ones from those who think the concept falls short of what is required. Feel free to trawl through them to see if your response made it in to print. Architecture that is “derivative and out of scale, and of no relevance to anything existing in Twickenham”. Ouch. A development that is “overwhelmed by the pretentious and overpowering buildings”. Double ouch. Residential development, access to the river, underground car parks, it goes on.

On the plus side, it does have a few fans and the greater pedestrianisation of Embankment is welcomed. As for commenting on the ‘naysayers’, well, someone did say, “Please ignore all the moaning minnies who will say it is ‘out of character’, by building this you will give Twickenham more character! I wish this was happening in Teddington!”  Some cynics might wonder if all those ‘moaning minnies’ in TW1 and TW2 also wish it was happening in Teddington rather than Twickenham. It’s just a thought.

What next? The Council has said that it will review the feedback and that a further consultation on amended proposals is being planned for the summer. Will those proposals be ‘amended’ enough to meet widespread local approval? It seems unlikely. From the feedback so far it feels like a major re-think of the whole scheme is required rather than just minor amendments.  Perhaps the next survey question should be, “Will LBRuT listen?”

 

Extract of design from LBRuT website

Extract of design from LBRuT website

LINKS:
* El Brute Press Release
* The Consultation Report

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MoD’s Kneller Hall Plan Hits Bum Note

There’s growing concern locally about the recent Ministry of Defence announcement of plans to sell Kneller Hall. The sale of the Hall in Whitton will form part of wider MoD property strategy to raise funds and plug funding gaps. It is sure to have developers rubbing their hands at the prospect of acquiring the listed building and its adjoining land. Kneller Hall is home to the Royal Military School of Music and has been home to Army bands since it was taken on by the War Office in 1857. The prospect of breaking that 150 year link and seeing the listed building pass into private ownership has met with strong opposition from local people, local councillors of both the blue and yellow persuasion and Twickenham MP Tania Mathias.

"Kneller Hall" by Jonathan Cardy - Own work UK freedom of panorama. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Kneller Hall” by Jonathan CardyOwn work UK freedom of panorama. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Dr Mathias has said she was ‘dismayed’ to hear the announcement of the plans and that she will be fighting against them.  She has asked to meet with ministers to try to persuade them to reverse the decision. Meanwhile Council Leader Nick True, aka the Blue Baron, has got himself into ‘slamming mode’ once again. In an El Brute press release he says, “This is a decision which the people of Twickenham and Richmond-upon-Thames Council will seek to resist in any way possible… Kneller Hall is an important piece of not just local, but national cultural and military heritage. It should not be tossed away to please junior accounting clerks in the Treasury with no understanding of the place of military music in London’s life and our nation’s military history.”  Wallop! ‘Ave it! In your faces ‘Junior accounting clerks in the Treasury’, you have been warned!

An online petition has been set up to try to save the Kneller Hall from being sold off. To be continued…

LINKS
* Save Kneller Hall Facebook
* Online Petition
* Richmond Council page
* Tania Mathias MP page
* Kneller Hall – Army site
* Kneller Hall – wikipedia

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Twickenham High Street Update – January 2016

It’s been a while. It’s been a long, long while. A twickerati High Street Update is something of a rarity these days but we’ve pulled out all the stops to brighten up your January with tales from Twickertown. Unfortunately they’re not all good…

Laverstoke, closing in Twickenham

Laverstoke, closing in Twickenham

Posh butchers, Laverstoke Park Farm is to close its doors this month after more than four years in the town. The purveyor of high quality organic meat, complete with prices to match, had been part of what seemed like a bit of a foodie boom in Twickenham when considered alongside the likes of Sandys and Rubens Bakehouse but it’s decided to cash in its steak. Geddit? There’s a notice in the store window saying that despite their best efforts it just wasn’t working out financially. We’re not privy to the precise details but, what was telling, was the contrast between the queue outside Sandys on Christmas Eve and the queue, or rather lack of one, outside Laverstoke. Perhaps it just didn’t manage to build up the base of loyal regular customers necessary to make it a viable proposition in the town. Or perhaps the prices were just too high for Twickenham? This isn’t la-di-da Teddington after all!

On the opposite corner of Wharf Lane, the Italian Design menswear shop has gone. It didn’t last long. From the off it always looked like place that was going to struggle to survive among the cafes, charity shops and sprinkling of chain stores on King Street. It’s now been replaced by Season Cookshop which sells all sorts of kitcheny type things, the type that you might actually want, and a rather fetching Thermos mug at twickerati HQ is testament to that. It could do well. Continue reading

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David Bowie: A Music Legend with a Twickenham Link

Eel Pie Island’s rich music heritage includes many famous names. Some of them are greats, a few of them genuinely deserve the title ‘legend’. One such legend, David Bowie, died today at the age of 69. Michele Whitby is a Twickenham resident and curator of the Eel Pie Island Museum which ran as a pop up exhibition at Twickenham Library last year. In this short piece, Michele, a huge Bowie fan, gives her take on the passing of someone whose nascent creative genius touched this part of London many decades ago…

11th JAN 2016. ‘Planet earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do.’
Being woken to the words ‘Mum, David Bowie has died’ coming from my daughter’s mouth at 7am this morning was not what I had in mind to start the week. My first thought was ‘please let it be one of those hoaxes’, my second was ‘if it’s true, then he orchestrated the release of his final album in perfect Bowie style’. Then I cried.

My daughter understood my tears and hugged me. After all ‘Starman’ was the song I chose to sing her as a lullaby when she was little and she has grown up listening to his music. She loved the line from his song ‘Kooks’, written for his own son, ‘And if the homework brings you down then we’ll throw it on the fire and take the car downtown’ (we were actually able to do this when we moved to a boat with a wood-burning stove!). She was as mesmerised as I by the fabulous V&A Bowie exhibition and it is testament to his genius that he could effortlessly engage different generations through his output of brilliant music. Continue reading

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Pic of the Week: Early Spring?

It’s the beginning of January and the daffodils are out at Orleans House Gallery. In fact, this lot were already up and blooming before we’d said goodbye to 2015. Perhaps we’re in the middle of ‘the winter that never was’. Whether or not that proves to be the case we wish you all very best wishes for 2016. Happy New Year!

January daffs at OHG

January daffs at OHG

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2015 in Twickenham: A Year in Review

ice-cream-van-twickenham-twickeratiWhat a funny old year it’s been on twickerati. From a springtime of booming reader stats and heated debate in the comments sections to a summer lull and retrenchment, and then to ending the year trying to move things forward with additional contributions. A very big thank you to the many people who have provided such positive feedback about twickerati. If it wasn’t for you the site would definitely be consigned to the internet wilderness by now. Thanks too to the lovely locals who have offered to help with additional content, especially to those who have already provided copy, namely ‘Bill Webb-Ellis’ and the ‘Newbie’ journo. It’s much appreciated. Here’s to more collaboration in 2016.

Of course, regardless of the sustainability or otherwise of the finest and only blog featuring ‘news, comment and ill-informed opinion about Twickenham’, the town itself has had plenty of newsworthy excitement in 2015, so much so that we wrote a few words for the Richmond & Twickenham Times about it. You can read it on page 14 of the current edition of the paper. Can’t find your copy? You could always sign up for the e-edition couldn’t you? In the meantime, we’ve included it below for your public convenience. We hope you enjoy it…

Twickenham – A Year In Review

2015, eh? What a year it’s been. First there was January happily ticking along all on its tod and then, hot damn, before you knew it a load of other months turned up one after another, after a-flippin-nother. And this happened not just in God’s Own London Borough (that’s Richmond upon Thames, btw) but across the whole of the south of England too! It really is amazing how LBRuT (aka El Brute) manages to co-ordinate this with other local authorities. Hats off to them! And what of plucky Twickenham, you ask. Well, here at twickerati HQ this is what we remember about 2015.

It all began with a lot of heated debate about bus stops moving, pavements changing and cycle lanes migrating. And then it just carried on. It’s all part of El Brute’s Twickenham Action Plan aka the “TWAP”. First it was the new luxurious York Stone paving in the town centre that got people all in a lather. This was a tad ironic because, as we’ve all now found out, a jolly good lather is exactly what is needed to keep those fine slabs gleaming and gum free. The one teeny problem? This hasn’t actually happened yet. As for the new cycle lanes in central Twickenham, there’s nothing like dedicated cycle lanes to transform the whole cycling experience and what we have is nothing like dedicated cycle lanes. To be fair though, the uncertainty about what bikes and vehicles are now supposed to do in King Street keeps everyone hyper-alert, and we especially love those new car-sized boxes at traffic lights where drivers can pull up and stop on top of a bicycle painted on the road. Satisfying.

London Road

London Road, cycling

By the time we got to April, election fever was in full swing. It was turning into the battle of the doctors but not in the sense of Baker versus Tennant versus Capaldi but rather Cable against Mathias. Continue reading

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Pix of the Week: Twickenham Christmas

“It’s beginning to sound a lot like Bublé, everywhere you go”. That’s right folks, the Canadian crooner is blocking the airwaves, annoying people (i.e. other people generally) are clogging up the shops and pavements, and it’s wet and cloudy outside, all of which are sure signs that it’s almost Christmas. With that in mind, and also because it’s quick and easy to do, we thought we’d share some Twickmas photos with you. And that really is all there is to it.

Twickenham Christmas Tree

Festive or what! Any plans for Christmas, etc, etc?

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Heathrow Third Runway Take Off Delayed

Plane landing at Heathrow

Plane landing at Heathrow

The lobby groups have lobbied, the Davies Commission has deliberated, a recommendation has been made and a decision to proceed taken by the Government. All of those things are true except the last one. It had been expected that a ruling on whether to go ahead with the construction of a third runway at Heathrow Airport would be taken this month. That is no longer going to happen after the Government announced that the decision would be put back to next summer to allow for further work on the environmental impact. Air quality and pollution remain real concerns.

Business types reacted with disappointment to the news whilst environmentalists and residents were broadly positive. For many, whichever side of the Heathrow debate they sit on, it just means more months of uncertainty and a chance for yet more lobbying.

The news also means the decision will take place after May’s elections for London Mayor in which the staunch anti-expansionist Mr Zac Goldsmith MP is the Conservative candidate. A funny co-incidence if there ever was one. David “no ifs, no buts” Cameron is caught in a tricky spot when it comes to biting the bullet on the third runway decision. The business lobby is campaigning hard for it but many influential London MPs and their constituents are vehemently opposed. The deferral could be regarded as giving a glimmer of light for the opposition groups although on the face of it, it feels much more like a convenient political fudge. And we haven’t even got near the judicial reviews yet. This one could run and run.

LINK:
* BBC News
* Teddington Action Group – local opposition group
* Richmond Council – opposed to Heathrow expansion
* Back Heathrow – pro 3rd runway

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Record RFU Revenues Bankroll Redevelopment

The RFU will battle again with Twickenham residents and El Brute’s Planning Committee after it announced plans to redevelop the East Stand (the Rugby Road side) to increase corporate hospitality at the stadium. A heated debate at the recent planning meeting led to the Union’s plans to hold a Monster Jam at the home of rugby being sent back for further assessment of the environmental impact, as reported here on twickerati.

Continue reading

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