The Richmond and Twickenham Times is reporting that the future of the Twickenham pool site is up for grabs at Richmond Council’s planning committee tonight. Yes tonight! That’s February 3rd to you. That sneaked up on the inside didn’t it? The fate of the site has featured as a hot topic for years and most recently in the Barefoot Consultation, the conference on the future of Twickenham and in feedback on the All-in-One surveys. This issue is clearly one that needs very careful consideration. Lots and lots of careful consideration and consultation. And then a bit more consideration. Scrap that last bit, and hey presto it’s on the agenda for the LBRuT planning committee with a recommendation to approve the plans. Sure, this plan (as well as others) has been knocking around for a long time and no doubt those close to the planning committee and the redevelopment plans themselves were well aware but given all the endless deliberating and arguing this seems to have tiptoed quietly into the committee chamber.
The plans, championed by the Twickenham Riverside Terrace Group, are to open the space up to public use with hard and soft landscaping (i.e. concrete, grass and plants). One minute it’s a ‘secret garden’ opening next to the café and the next it’s plans for a scent garden. To be honest, with finances tight and the property market looking shaky it’s probably a sensible approach to get the site cleared and opened up for public use. The plans even say that the scheme should not prejudice future development on the site. But who’s paying for the work and who will be charged with running the place? We couldn’t see too much detail on that in the plans but that doesn’t mean it’s not around somewhere. The planning documents say “The management of the site would be undertaken by a Trust and work to set this up is currently being undertaken. The trust would work in conjunction with the Council to ensure issues such as security and health and safety were adequately dealt with.” Fine and dandy. We look forward to hearing more about the trust, what powers it will have on behalf of the people of Twickenham, who is on it and what, if any, interests they have? Is this the Big Sociey in action? Let’s hope it’s nice and transparent.