Forza Twickenham! There’s a long way to go

Was it really back in September that we asked if Twickenham was turning into one giant “to let”? Yes. Yes it was. If you want to read that piece you can do so here but you’re under no obligation to do so. Basically it wittered on about the empty shops and the rise of the identikit high street. That kind of thing. Have things improved since then? Hard to say really. There are some signs of life with new businesses springing up (a tattoo studio, Patisserie Valerie, Indus restaurant, a re-launch of the Koyote Bar, err.. anything else?) but the glut of “to let” signs seems to have grown rather than shrunk.

Intrepid Twickenham local Monkeybanjo (seriously, who makes up these names?) has kindly illustrated the point with a tour down the hight street, camera in hand. It’s a photo-story but without any jokes and not much of a happy ending either. But Monkeybanjo makes a couple of pertinent points. With so much property to let, do we need to consider building more? And with so much property to let, who actually owns Twickenham anyway?

Monkeybanjo’s full collection is available to view here but we’ve laid out a few tasters for you below. This is your town after all.

On Heath Road….
Empty shop, Heath Road

On King Street…
Shop lease available, King Street

Still on King Street…
Offices to let above Superdrug

And still on King Street…
Coffee Republic... overthrown, King St

On York Street….
Offices to let above Zizzi, York Street

And more on York Street… (tee he, did someone say “more on”?)
Empty shop, York Street

So what now?
These photos illustrate some of the challenges facing Twickenham. Regeneration is needed. We know that. You know that. Over the last eight months we’ve been consulted barefoot, had a session at Twickenham stadium where the big names on the Twickenham scene have strutted their stuff on the stage (and talked a lot about coffee) and we’ve cavorted in the All Together. Or All-in-One or whatever. It’s been like bloody Glastonbury out there! Now the Council, led by the Duke of York (House), is planning to pull all that together into some kind of plan, and then ask us about it. Again. To be fair, the idea now is to consult on specific proposals rather than do any more post-it note, blue sky thinking. The Council’s intention is to have a Twickenham action plan by 2012. Sure, these things need thinking through and it’s the long term future we’re talking about here but 2012 does seem like a long wait to see a plan. Let’s hope it’s worth the wait. And in the meantime, any ideas for all those empty shops and offices? Answers on a post card or below, whichever’s easier.

Monkeybanjo’s full collection is on Flickr here.
Follow Monkeybanjo on Twitter here. (You’ll have to ask nicely!)
Richmond Council doing some “preparing for action” here.


Filed under Council, High Street Updates, Local Issues & News

8 responses to “Forza Twickenham! There’s a long way to go

  1. Cllr Gareth Roberts

    Evostick? Have you tried Poundland? I know its anathema to many but they sell high street brands. I was in there on Saturday as I noticed a poster advertising that they were flogging the exact toothbrushes that my kids use. Proper Colgate Kids ones. Pound a piece. Can’t argue with that.

  2. Telemachus

    Not using evo stick myself I have had no reason to track it down. Nonetheless I am sure you ccould get it in Twickenham. Also Twickenham has a very good hardware selection in Heath Rd, the builders supply place.
    Maybe Waitrose have it in their useful household stuff aisle?

  3. gawain

    Yvonne, the Dyas in Richmond has moved and expanded into the former Next premises. The whole block where it was will become a WholeFoods (but not until 2012!). As for Evo-Stick, you could always walk to Cutters in St Margarets who have all small things like that.

  4. Boss

    Have things really radically changed that much in the last 10 years? So we’ve lost Woolies and a good butchers. But gained Waterstones, the fancy new cake shop and others. And we got rid of McDonalds a few years ago, which is always a plus. A refurbed Three Kings is on the way too.

  5. Angelina Jolly

    As far as I’m aware the empty shop nearer the green end of Twickenham formerly known as Scruby’s is now owned by Tesco (they bought it and were going to develop it before the pub became available which was a better plot for them). Surely they’re not sitting on it now to stop other supermarkets cramping their style are they? They wouldn’t do that would they?!

    Please, sell up Tesco, don’t sit on sites, if you don’t want to sell it, why not give an art gallery a short term cheapy lease for example, then us artistic locals could exhibit there, or something else useful.

  6. Ooops! Didn’t mean to be depressing, although, the sheer number of to let signs does bring one down.

    I take the point about retail spaces in Twickenham. I think it is clear we have too many and would benefit from closing some down rather than leaving them vacant.

    Also, I love the bit on heath road with a Wood shop, Tile shop, and two building equipment shops in close proximity. They feel like ‘real’ shops and I go there for my building supplies.

    Another thing I noticed while walking around with my camera was the sheer number of beautiful buildings in Twickenham. I am quite tempted to do a follow up in a positive tone!

  7. Yvonne Hewett

    I regret the absence of a hardware store, and a launderette. The lack of hardware store means a bus trip to get small things like a tube of Evostik – and has anyone noticed that the Dyas in Richmond has turned into a building site? Since the demise of the launderette in the Staines Road, the nearest to the town centre is Bubbles past St Mary’s College, or the one near the rugby ground. What happened to shops selling useful things?

    It’s a real pity that the council has seen fit to abolish the role of Town Centre manager, just when the TCMB’s work on inward investment – that is, bringing new businesses into the town – was starting to bear fruit. The withdrawal of funding for the town centre manager’s post was done without consultation, or a survey into the needs of Twick and the local populace. Monkeybanjo’s done us a service with his photos – they’re a really depressing display of the ills we’re living with.

  8. Simon H

    Twickers’ problems are part of the general migration of shopping away from high streets. But we also have the huge issue of one fairly large shopping area one mile away in Richmond (some chain stores, some posh) and a huge one three miles away in Kingston (loads of chain stores, but also lots of quite posh shops too). Then there’s Teddington (mainly fairly posh shops). So the idea that Twickenham can sustain all the shops it’s trying to (and there must be at least 150—some posh, some high street. And Poundland) is mental. It would be far more sensible for the council to allow shops that fall empty to be converted into flats (for which there is a lot of demand), leaving a hardcore of maybe half as many businesses that would have enough customers to thrive.

    As for the ludicrous number of restaurants and cafes, don’t get me started. I counted 72 between Fulwell and Marble Hill, the other day (I didn’t have a lot on), including take-away joints and pubs that do food. How is that sustainable and why do the council keep allowing new ones to open?