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….
On King Street…
Still on King Street…
And still on King Street…
On York Street….
And more on York Street… (tee he, did someone say “more on”?)
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.