Farewell to Florist as Station Development Gets Underway

Solum’s ‘regeneration’ of Twickenham station will finally get going in the next few weeks. Sort of. This was the development that dithered and dallied but was then definitely going to take place after the Rugby World Cup back in 2015. It’s now 2017 and, true to their word and the very passing of time itself, it still is definitely after the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

It’s been a long wait. The process will see preparatory work take place before and a new station building goes up and the construction of new residential blocks. Think several years’ worth of work.

Peter the florist – moved on

One of the by-products of the project is that  we say goodbye to the Puccino cafe outside the station, the ABC newsagent and Peter the Florist whose “Two bunches for five fifty therrrrre” has been a regular refrain outside the station for many years. And of course, who can forget the fateful day when prices went up 10% taking those all important two bunches from “a fiver, therrrre” to “five fifty”?

No bunches for five fifty!

Although the development itself can hardly be news to anyone let alone the traders affected – it’s been ‘almost happening’ for years – the word is that Peter was given just one week’s formal notice to vacate. Hmmm. Assuming that’s correct that’s not great Solum. His pitch is within Solum’s development boundary and perhaps they were not obliged to offer alternatives either.  And what of Richmond Council? El Brute’s Pamela Fleming tweeted that, “Our licensing officers are proactive in helping him relocate”.  That’s good, although one might wonder why nothing had been finalised with only days to go before the deadline.  Peter’s most likely destination is Teddington but at least one option in Twickenham has been explored.  Surely there must be one spot in the town where he could continue selling to local shoppers and commuters?

ABC News – closed

Hoardings are due to go up soon (note the blue marker lines on the pavement) and a building site created. Strange to think that the old sorting office site opposite has been almost fully rebuilt in the years that the station development has not been happening. Funny old world innit?

LINK:
* Richmond Council Page on Twickenham Station Development

* Sign up for updates from Solum on the construction sheme

 

And finally. Thanks for the memories….

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St Mary’s Expansion Plans Cause Local Concern

Forget trouble at t’mill, there’s trouble at t’Hill.  A plan for a big expansion of St Mary’s University is causing consternation among the residents of leafy Strawberry Hill.  The university, “off of Mo Farah”, has a grand vision to grow in size and prestige over the period to 2025. So far, so normal. So normal, perhaps until the scale of the plan becomes apparent.

The aim is to increase student numbers by close to 60% from just under 6,000 to around 9,000 and make room for them by building on the existing athletic and sports facilities at the Waldegrave Road site and developing their Teddington Lock playing fields with a new track, pitch and infrastructure.

St Mary’s University, Waldegrave Road

Concerned Strawberry Hillers (or are they Hillites?) fear the large expansion in student numbers and the accompanying new ‘student village’ will put excessive stain on their sleepy streets, fill them with students (and their cars) and generally have a detrimental impact on the area, with knock-on effects into Twickenham and Teddington. This development would also require building over Metropolitan Open Land, causing a loss of valuable green space.

Waldegrave Road sports fields and open space

Whilst we all want da yoof to get a good education ready for the exciting post-Brexit world, a 60% expansion in numbers at what is essentially a small educational establishment tucked away in a leafy suburb of a leafy suburb (yeah, deal with it, Hillers) does constitute a material change in scale.  New student halls (up to 11 in total) and new teaching blocks? Would things progress quite so smoothly if the construction work was for residential housing? We’re not so sure. But then again…

St Mary’s, Teddington Lock, playing fields

Traffic and parking is already a big issue on and around Waldegrave Road and ramping up the infrastructure at Teddington Lock will add to parking pressure in that neck of the woods too.

St Mary’s: new buildings go here. Accommodation in blue, teaching in pink

The St Mary’s “Vision 2025” states: “The intensely competitive environment for universities in the UK makes this a critical and exhilarating period in our drive to make St Mary’s a leading university. However, we start from a position of strength. We have a distinct mission and purpose, and a clear vision of the future”.  St Mary’s have worked with El Brute on a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) setting out how the estate could be developed in a way that will help deliver that vision.

However that vision is not one that chimes with some local residents.  The Neighbours of St Mary’s group are hoping to make the University and the Council take note of their concerns over the planned expansion. A representative told twickerati: “We think if the development is allowed to go ahead, it will destroy Strawberry Hill village forever, at a time when the Council themselves are trying to increase the village feel as part of their recent Village Planning… Why can’t the University do what others have successfully done, building second campus sites or spreading halls around an area using brownfield, low impact or town centre sites?”

So there you have it, the conundrum of a grand educational vision but one which will have a significant impact on a quiet residential neighbourhood. Who’s right? You decide.

LINKS & INFO:
St Mary’s are running drop in sessions on from 6pm to 8pm on 24th April 2017 and again on 6th May 2017 (10.30am-4pm). Stop by if you want to find out more or have your say, or click on the links below.

* St Mary’s University – Vision 2025
* Neighbours of St Mary’s University – local residents group

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Twickenham Decides… Again

9th May

In more candidate news:

Labour have announced their their candidate in Twickenham will be Katherine Dunne. She works at NPL in Teddington and lives in Hounslow where she’s also a Labour Councillor and Cabinet Member for Housing.  According to the Labour Party website she believes that a “reckless Brexit should be resisted” and will be “campaigning on the issues that matter most to local people”.

Meanwhile after the recent local ‘progressive alliance’ meeting the Green Party has announced that its candidates for Twickenham and Richmond Park will stand aside. The Greens have endorsed Liberal Democrat candidates Vince Cable and Sarah Olney in the two constituencies. The Green Party says it has much that it does agree on with the Lib Dems including holding “similar views on stopping ‘blank cheque’ Brexit, and  Heathrow Expansion”. Tactical stuff eh?

 

27th April…

In candidate news:

In addition to Tania Mathias (Conservative) and Vince Cable (Liberal Democrat), the Green Party has announced that its candidate for Twickenham will be first-timer Caroline Wren. The local Labour Party office has said that it will have announced its candidate by next week. There is no news yet on whether UKIP intend to field a candidate in Twickenham.

In neighbouring Richmond Park, Zac Goldsmith will be the Conservative Party candidate, returning to the fold after resigning over Heathrow expansion and then getting beaten by Sarah Olney of the Liberal Democrats when standing as an Independent in the subsequent by-election. Andree Frieze will be the Green Party candidate.

 

Meanwhile all this talk of so-called Progressive Alliances and tactical voting has manifested itself locally in the form of a meeting planned for 3rd May in Richmond. The local Green Party has invited members of “all progressive parties – and of none or the non-aligned” to a meeting to “discuss the options for ensuring centre-left politicians win or retain seats” in five local constituencies including Twickenham and Richmond Park.  Will a spirit of enlightenment and co-operation emerge or will party interests be hard to break down, as in “You’re very welcome to stand aside in favour of our candidate”.   The panelists will come from a range of parties and groups. It’s not yet known if the Judean People’s Front or the People’s Front of Judea will be attending.

 

19th April…

In June 2016 Twickenham said “Bremain” but the Nation said “We’d Bretter Brileave It”.  With a clear majority in favour of leaving the EU (a whopping 52% versus a measly 48%) the nation is united like never before. So bloody united in fact that the best way to show that national unity is by having a general election on June 8th. Hurrah! More voting, more punditry, more analysis. It’s clearly a dig at all those people who thought this country already had too many experts and too many polls.

Here in Little Ol’ Twickenham we’ll get to have our say too and send a message straight to the very heart of Westminster, wherever the hell that is.  In the last general election way back in May 2015 longstanding Liberal Democrat incumbent Vince Cable was narrowly defeated after a big swing to the Conservatives and their candidate Tania Mathias. Labour trailed in third with UKIP and the Greens following some way back.  A couple of other blokes stood too. Continue reading

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Pics of the Week: Springtime

After a brief few days of glorious weather we’re back to business as usual but here’s a quick reminder of that spring sunshine.

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Twickenham Traders Bemused by Council “Regence-frication” Plan

Twickenham shopkeepers have again found themselves in conflict with the Council since the latter unveiled their renewed plan to spruce up the notoriously ailing high street last week.  With work on the controversial Riverside Piazza soon to begin, there is now a concerted push from York House for the immediate surrounding area to keep up with the classical theme and aesthetics.

Time for a spruce up?

As the LBRuT  statement reads: “One significant response to our recent, wide-reaching consultation with the people of Twickenham was the general feeling of inadequacy and neglect suffered by the main high street.  We have listened, and are now rectifying this situation by returning this veritable artery back to its former unspoilt glory.” This is to involve the compulsory removal of all bright, artificial-looking signage in exchange for more subdued colours provided by chief heritage advisers and sponsors, Farrow & Ball Ltd.   Many shop names, to be newly rendered in classic typefaces and in gilt, may need to be adapted, in some cases entirely renamed.  Failure to comply will result in hefty fines.

Particularly incensed was managing director of Poundland, Phil Barsguits, who told us “quite out of the blue we have been ordered to take down our distinctive bright green and white signage and replace it with what looks to me like the Harrods livery.  And if that wasn’t enough we are to be renamed Pounde Lande.”  Equally infuriated was Claire Bunne, head of central public relations at Iceland Foodstores UK, inexplicably to be re-branded in Twickenham as “Ireland”, who complained, “This is yet another example of local administrators stamping their authority over freedom of trade and expression.  Sadly we are bound by law to comply, as we found to our cost after Southend Council’s successful case to rename their local branch Viceland.” Most other retailers have been given the option to precede their name with “Mr” (for example Mr. Kentucky, Mr. Waterstones) or end with “& Sons” (Boots & Sons, WH Smith & Sons) or both (Mr. Starbuck & Sons).  Only Marks & Spencer seems to have escaped unscathed on all counts.

In defence of the scheme, dubbed “Twickenham Regence-frication”, Councillor Pamela Ewing explained that “in less than a year a very run-down corner of Twickenham favoured by vagrants will become the jewel in the Borough’s crown, with a splendid new piazza and town crier.  We simply cannot let the rest of Twickenham fall by the wayside.   This is a simple solution that will please absolutely everybody.”

New: LBRuT offical signage guidance

Contributor: Rich Monrode

LINK:
* LBRuT Press Release 1st April 2017

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Twickerati in New LBRuT Partnership

There are big changes afoot for twickerati Newly announced support from Richmond Council means that this blog will be able to play a bigger role in communicating news about what the Council is doing.  As part of the arrangement, this twickerati blog along with several others across the Borough will become part-funded by the Council. In return the hyperlocal websites will promote Council stories and cover  the facts Richmond’s leaders believe that locals should be focusing on.

From a twickerati perspective this is good news. Blog Editor Russell said, “The team and I have discussed this in great detail. We all genuinely believe that after nearly seven years of blogging from an independent perspective a fresh approach is required to better engage with the community.  Looking back we can see that we have often covered stories from a narrow and often rather limited perspective.  Take the Gloriana boat house for example. In hindsight we believe that could have made important strides in developing a tired and run down local park.  We now look forward to working closely with Lord True and the rest of the LBRuT team to keep Twickenham residents up to date with what’s going on.  With the Council’s resources behind us we’ll be able to do real justice to the stories that matter”.

In an El Brute Press Release, Director of Communications, Mike Coles said: “With so many unreliable news outlets and so much wanton distortion of the facts across social media this new deal will cut through to the stories that matter. We’ll be presenting the true facts using trusted partners. We begin rolling out our new partnership by adding some Richmond Council branding to twickerati, Teddingtonia and TotalRichmond, by sharing stories and through merging our twitter feeds. Our first big initiative will see leading Councillors take the news to the residents in a re-painted version of the iconic twickerati ice cream van. Keep a look out for it on Twickenham riverside.”

In a series of tweets from the official @lbrut Twitter account, Richmond Council Leader Lord True said:

“Too many pot shots from failing local media. Many blogs misinformed and overrated. So sad”

“We now have the chance for more constructive relationships with all local bloggers, bypassing mainstream media.”

“Time to get to work getting the truth out there. No more fake news. We can now deal in real FACTS”

“Joining forces with @twickerati, @teddingtonia & @totalrichmond makes sense. Great borough. The Best.”

Exciting times, eh?  We think you will like the new look and we hope you will love our more mainstream approach to covering local news. Our next feature will be an in-depth look at the plans for making Twickenham riverside great again and that will be followed in May by a re-appraisal of the Twickenham station development.

Mr Whippy. Twickerati van gets LBRuT branding.

LINKS:

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Memorial Art to be Unveiled for Twickenham’s Belgian Village

Noticed the Belgian flags in East Twickenham recently? If you haven’t we can reassure you that yes, they are actually there. And they’re there for a good reason.  On Saturday 1st April a memorial artwork is going to be unveiled by the Belgian Ambassador to celebrate East Twickenham’s Belgian connection.  Many of you will know the backstory to this but just in case….

 

Belgian Flag, East Twickenham

During the First World War this part of London became home to around 6,000  Belgians who had fled their home country after the German invasion in 1914. A real community developed earning the area the moniker, “the Belgian village on the Thames”.  Many of these refugees worked in the munitions factory established by Charles Pelabon in what had previously been a roller skating rink.  Pelabon, a Frenchman who had previously operated factories in Belgium, supplied munitions to the Belgian army from January 1915 and throughout the war. At its peak his East Twickenham works employed 2,000 people.

During the war years French and Flemish could be heard on the streets of East Twickenham, Belgians established shops and businesses to serve their community, while the children attended a special ‘Belgian department’ at Orleans School in St Margarets.

 

Belgian munitions workers at the Pelabon factory

After the war the community dispersed with most returning to Belgium. The Pelabon factory continued for a few more years as a general engineering  company before Monsieur Pelabon eventually sold up and returned to France. Some of the buildings remained in industrial use and part of the  site became the famous Richmond Ice Rink but that, of course, is another story.

A great deal of work has been done to uncover and publicise this hidden history especially by Helen Baker and others.  On Saturday April 1st, to celebrate East Twickenham’s Belgian connection, a public work of art will be unveiled by the Belgian Ambassador H.E Guy Trouveroy as a memorial to this unique community of Belgian refugees . It’s being organised by the East Twickenham Centennial Group. As Helen says, “We see this as not so much a celebration of war as of two communities cooperating towards a common goal and of friendship for refugees.”

 

Pelabon works, East Twickenham


The unveiling will take place on Saturday 1st April from 12.00-2.30pm at Warren Gardens, Clevedon Road, TW1 2HZ.  And of course the project team are always keen to hear from anyone with information about the time, one hundred years ago, when East Twickenham became little Belgium.

 

LINK:

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Council Tax Freeze Thaws

The recent years of no or very low increases to Council Tax are over. Residents in the Borough are now seeing bills land on their doormats for increases of around 3.5% as Council budgets come under pressure from cuts to the funding received from central government. With bills frozen from 2009 to 2015 and with a modest increase last year, the new charges mark a big change. Our Dear Leaders at El Brute have said that cuts in these government grants mean that savings of £31m need to be found to cover the shortfall in order to maintain vital services but increasing Council Tax forms part of the plan too. For a Band D property the hike will average out at 3.55%, comprising 3.99% for Richmond’s own council tax and 1.46% towards the Greater London Authority.

A Council Tax pictured recently

LBRuT Deputy Leader, Big Sam (that’s Geoffrey Samuel not Sam Allardyce btw), said “With unprecedented Government cuts to our funding, and increased pressure on social care, it simply isn’t feasible to freeze the tax any more. We now need to find a new way to deliver future services, working more collaboratively with our residents and partners.  This will take time. The only way we can cover the costs of vital services for the next year is to raise Council Tax and the adult social care precept”.  Some of the savings will continue to flow from the merger of Richmond and Wandsworth Councils’ operations functions, others are no doubt ‘tbc’.

The seat of El Brute power

The rise comes at a time when business rates continue to cause concern for many local traders and when newly announced National Insurance increases for the self-employed will add financial pressure to many already feeling the pinch.

So, are you happy that El Brute says it is raising Council Tax to protect important services or hacked off that you’re facing an above inflation rise after years of stable bills? Err, or both at the same time maybe?

LINKS:
* LBRuT Press Release
* LBRuT Council Tax Page

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Wow! A Twickenham High Street Update

Wow! You just won’t believe what Twickenham town centre looks like now!!

Clickbait, eh?  Hate or despise it you just can’t ignore it. Here at twickerati HQ we’re not in the business of using sensationalist headlines to try to draw in readers. Well, not all the time anyway but we do allow ourselves the odd exception. So what has been happening over the last few months then? Well, quite a lot since you (almost) asked. Here’s our round up of the recent real changes and the alternative facts on the mean streets of south west London’s premier leafy suburb.

On York Street, estate agents Haart will no longer be where your home is. They’ve closed. You’ll just have to buy or sell your house at one of the many other agents in Twickenham. So sad. Just along from them, poshly named Hugo Oliver, purveyors of luxury bathrooms, is now open for business in what used to be the Rugby Store and before that the Bottoms Up off licence. With Bensons for Beds just across the road and some other new businesses on Heath Road there does seem to be some kind of a ‘home improvementification hub’ developing in the town. That was part of the famous Twickenham Action Plan, aka the TWAP, if you recall.

 

Hugo Oliver. In the rain.

Hugo Oliver. In the rain.

On London Road, Happicraft has sold its last pram and completed its final 100 piece jigsaw puzzle. As with many other sellers of ‘things’, competition from online retailers proved too strong in the end. Many local parents were sad to see it go.  The building is now a pop-up charity shop for the Octavia Foundation. Continue reading

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