Twickenham Station: Moving forward… and back

Solum Regeneration have submitted a revised planning application for Twickenham station. They are listening to the concerns of residents and the Council, apparently. They’ve even reduced the number of housing units from 165 to 115. So far, so good. The revised plan makes each of the three main blocks one floor lower. This will mean the highest block (in Solum’s world ) is seven storeys tall. Now, they say seven but once you add on the height of the podium on which it’s built it’s actually about nine storeys as we’d understand them.

In Solum’s world counting the build height from the podium level would mean the majority of Twickenham was classed as a giant basement. You’ll have your own views about that but remember to check those flood defences first! So, is that how it works in the building industry? Or is it just a way of making the planned buildings seem lower than they’ll actually be? We think it must be the former. Yes, 100% definitely the former, Your Honour.

Back to the future
The revised – ever so slightly lower plan – reduces the number of units (good), removes the affordable housing element (not so good, but presumably it helps compensate Solum for fewer units) and, wait for it, involves the construction of a mock Georgian terrace facing onto the River Crane. Seriously, read that last part again. We’re actually going back in time folks! Apparently this came out of discussions and feedback. Fake Georgian can have its place, occasionally, but in Twickenham? A town of predominantly Victorian, Edwardian and 1930s buildings with a sprinkling of other stuff thrown in? Really? On initial reading this seemed like some kind of joke or part of some wider gameplan to make out that everyone who objects to the current plans is some kind of nimby in love with a non-existent golden age of Georgian Twickenham. But apparently not.

There’s nothing wrong with modern! Surely, most normal people just want a well designed, high quality, modern station development that is not overly high and that will meet the needs of the town for the next couple of decades. Why is that proving so difficult?

(You can see that this story doesn’t have a picture but if you can supply a photo of someone repeatedly banging their head on a desk in despair, then we might just use it.)

LINKS:
Solum’s revised plans on the Council site are here.
Twickenham Residents Action Group – TRAG-SOS are here.
Solum Regeneration is here.

31 Comments

Filed under Council, Station Development

31 responses to “Twickenham Station: Moving forward… and back

  1. JOHN ARMSTRONG

    The plan using the existing site is an outrage because it perpetuates the the Town’s problem… the closure of London Road every time there is a match which affects the Shopping centre such that non-food outlets may as well shut-shop.

    The plan is totally wrong… had SOLUM decided to erect the platform on the other side of the bridge, then this could have proceeded without inconveniencing travellers for three weeks and channels spectators along the same pavement that leads directly down Whitton Road without shutting London Road. This concept seems not to have been tested by SOLUM and could actually be cheaper & be attractive to the owners of the adjoining Sorting Office site by giving them an entrance at concourse level.

  2. [Jun 23] Bryan Staff, LBRuT Senior Planning Officer writes: ‘THE new application at Twickenham Station has now been validated. However, as we are still awaiting further information on the Environmental Statement, we have suspended the application. Formal consultation with residents, etc., will take place once this has been received.

    As the application has been validated, the public will be able to access the electronic file on the Council’s website. There is however a statement informing the public that whilst documents are available to view, formal consultation will not start until the outstanding information is submitted. A link to a letter setting out this outstanding information will also be published very soon. The expected decision date published on the web site will also be removed so as to avoid any confusion. When we are in a position to consult on this application, I will explain in the consultation letter the status of the three applications and the reason behind their submission.’

  3. ruggabugga

    …only 1550 days or so until RWC2015

  4. Chris Squire

    I am told that the reason why the new application is not yet on the council website is that it is incomplete and cannot be validated until it is complete. They hope to have it done by next weekend.

    Meanwhile, the days are slipping away . .

  5. twickerman

    If you take a look at Solum’s location plan you can clearly see from the red line that the platforms and footbridge have been excluded from the scope.
    Network Rail need to clear all clutter from the platforms, and remove/strreamline buildings to enable more efficient flows of passengers. They also need to widen the footbridge which is a major bottleneck.
    Otherwise they will not realise the capacity improvements that platform lengthening and increased train length could deliver, because they will not be able to get enough passengers to the very far end of the platforms between train departures.
    FYI, platform lengthening is funded independently of Solum activities, although they appear to have included it in their cost calculations.
    Network Rail need to find more acceptable additional funding streams for station improvements such as the RFU/IRB (RWC2015 >£300m profit), TFL, Dept for Transport/Sports etc.

  6. twickerman

    TonyB, I agree it would be good to see Network Rail investing in platform improvements rather than residential development profiteering.
    Bizarrely, the platforms are actually outside the scope of Solum’s redevelopment, presumably because they are so cluttered that it would impossible to build anything else on them.
    When you see the rugby crowds crushed onto the congested platforms and funnelled over the narrow footbridge you realise it is only a matter of time before a serious accident occurs.
    Why aren’t Network Rail addressing these critical areas in the station redevelopment?

    • Chris Squire

      ‘Formed in July 2008, Solum Regeneration is a partnership between Network Rail and Kier Property as a vehicle to regenerate a number of railway stations in the South East of England.’ Network Rail says that the profits from the development will pay for the improvements to the station, which would otherwise not happen: ‘ . . a new station concourse with stair and lifts to platform level; . . sustainable transport facilities to include a taxi rank, kiss and ride . . 35 commuter car parking spaces . . electric car charging points, 250 covered cycle spaces for commuters and 208 covered cycle spaces for residents; provision of a new station plaza, . . ’ [11/1443/FUL]

      Nothing about the platforms, as you say: what do you think they should be proposing?

  7. Simon H

    As I say, this development looks nothing like Croydon. It’s a really silly comparison.

    • twickerman

      Agreed, but if Network Rail/Solum were to build more high-rise tower blocks on the sorting office site it would start to look similar to Croydon. As a result we would end up, not only with a Twickenham wall, but also a high-rise tunnel. No thanks.
      FYI, Network Rail have expressed an interest in purchasing and developing the sorting office site.

    • TonyB

      If Network Rail was to purchase the sorting office site, I would hope that they would use a bit of land to realign the tracks, making platforms 2 & 3 an island platform for all trains to Waterloo, instead of the current arrangement where it’s not always clear which platform you’d do best to wait on. Platform 4 would then be just for Feltham, Hounslow and beyond and platform 5 for Teddington and Shepperton trains. Much easier, especially for infrequent travellers. If redevelopment of the rest of the site is contemplated, perhaps something like this could be negotiated as planning gain, failing which the land that would be needed for such a track realignment should be safeguarded.

  8. Simon H

    Until recently, I worked on the Isle of Dogs. The proposed development looks a little like some of the blocks of flats there. And they are stylish, elegant and have brought wealth and regeneration to their area. Providing they are not too tall (taller than the current proposals), I can see no problem with them whatsoever. As for the “new Croydon” bobbins, have you actually been to Croydon? It’s no Isle of Dogs.

    • twickerman

      Solum’s plans are a Dogs Dinner, a confused mixture of high-rise car park and mock geogian styles.
      Twickenham is NOT a city jungle or a large urban town such as the Isle of Dogs or Croydon, it is suburban, and that’s how it will remain.
      I used to live in Croydon and was very happy to escape its ugly townscape when I moved to Twickenham. I don’t intend to move again.

    • Telemachus

      The best thing about Croydon is the road out of there …which is usually traffic packed.
      Actually I do like the old art deco airport there. Could we have an art deco airport in Twickenham please?

  9. jmtwix

    The new application plans are now available on the TRAG website. http://www.trag-sos.co.uk.
    Also availble are CGI’s of ‘the Great Wall of Twickenham’. Some say it will be visible from outer space!

  10. Telemachus

    Or how about, a pleasent open space by the riverside and a sexy new station (new rolling stock with rubber wheels would be nice à la RER…but probably a step too far), and encourage non-chain retail shops to open in the high st.

    Richmond is always going to be elegant but for me Twickenham tops Teddington easily. They don’t even have a greengrocer there in Teddington.

  11. Darran

    This redevelopment is the chance to lift Twickenham to a better stage of its life. We sit as the poor cousin of Richmond & Teddington.

    Allowing the development of the riverside + station will give the whole area a facelift and maybe bring in a better standard of shops to the high-street than another charity or coffee shop.

    Come-on people lets build for our kids.

    • twickerman

      I’m all in favour of a facelift for Twickenham providing its not a 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10 storey facelift. We need to build sympathetically for our kids and not turn suburban Twickenham into an inner city concrete jungle.

  12. Cookadoodledoo

    Can I ask how many objectors moved here after the Stadium was built (1909)?

    Is this not like buying a house next to a school and then complaining about screaming kids?

    Twickenham is home to one of the biggest sports in the world. And soon we will have the biggest event in that sport on our doorstep. Seems only sensible that we should plan accordingly. We should embrace the fact that the other stadia are all more central to their cities (Cardiff, Edinburgh, Dublin) and we are extremely lucky to have a National Stadium on our doorstep.

    Stop whingeing or move to a non-National Stadium town/city.

    • Telemachus

      You seem to have missed the point.

    • Anonymous

      The redevelopment plans appear (and I admit I have not studied them in great detail yet) to built a big block of flats over the car park.
      That car park is usually used as a pedestrian marshaling area after large rugby matches.

      This would suggest that the redevelopment plans actually make the station considerably less fit for the World cup crowds.

      However some LEGION modelling or other ped flow analysis should be done to check this.

      [TWICKERATI EDIT 14/10/11: Any further comments on this subject would be better if they were added to the more recent station items. Click “Station Development” on the Categories index on the right hand column to find them.]

  13. Telemachus

    Would it be beyond the wit of man to just make the station itself look a bit sexy without the need to build housing and goodness knows what else?

    Unless you are an enthusiatic train spotter would living above a railway station be a good choice to live?
    Open your window in the summer…”calling at Richmond, Clapham Junction and Waterloo”. ”

    “The train on platform 5 is the Windsor and Eaton Riverside service calling at Whitton, Feltham…”

    ” Fast train approaching, Fast train approaching!”

  14. George

    I would hate to think that this sudden switch is the result of some deal done elsewhere. From modern to mock Georgian is quite a turnaround. If these plans (when validated of course!) are as suggested above then I hope people do continue to comment on the scheme and don’t get “objection fatigue”.

    (And do we know that the names of the people above aren’t their real names? Even “Chris Squire” could be a net name for all we know).

    • This is idle talk. I recommend that you stop speculating and do some investigating of your own instead. You can look me up in the phone book & ring me up or come and call if you prefer.

      You are absolutely right to remind everyone that their objections to the old scheme do not count as objections to the new one. They must reobject if they wish to be heard.

  15. twickerman

    Once the application is complete and has been validated by planning officers I will submit reasoned objections to it. I am sure that many hundreds of other Twickenham residents who don’t want to see their town ruined by ‘the Great Wall of Twickenham’ will also object, as they did to the podium and first station application.

  16. jmtwix

    Solum HAVE submitted drawings and these are curently available to view. As they are not validated they may contain errors and omissions . Some of the key drawings will be published on the TRAG website http://www.trag-sos.co.uk in the next 24 hours.

  17. twickerman

    It is disingenuous and disrespectful to suggest that this has been agreed in advance by planning officers. The application will be judged on its merits (of which there are very, very few) and the visually harmful impact it will have on the Twickenham townscape.
    Residents need to tell the Council, Solum, Network Rail, their ward Councillors and MPs that this applcation is totally unacceptable in terms of its height, scale, massing, visual impact and design quality.
    There will be plenty of time to object to this major application. When the planning officers have validated the application (there is currently much information missing) there will be a 16 week consultation period before the application is heard by planning committee.

    • You couldn’t be more wrong: this my ‘ingenuous’ (i.e. sincere) opinion. You are perhaps using ‘disingenuous’ in another non-dictionary sense? The Planning Statement makes it clear that there have been extensive discussions with officers, as often is the case, and Chapter 3 Planning Policy Review assesses the scheme against all the planning policies that apply to it. No surprises: it passes every test.

      If you wish to influence what happens on this site even slightly, you should be studying that and posting on the council site reasoned objections to it, instead of criticising me on this site for expressing my honest opinion as to what will happen, like it or not.

    • twickerman

      I have read the planning statement, and its clear that you are simply regurgitating Solum’s view of the application.
      Of course they will claim that the application passes all the tests. They are not openly going to admit it fails in a number of policy areas which is quite evident from reading the statement. I’m not going to go into details now because some things are best saved until the appropriate time, but I know and Solum know their application contains some major flaws.
      At the moment this application has still to be validated and their previous two applications have recently been invalidated by the Council because of errors. Currently they don’t have one valid planning application. Enough said.

    • Twickerman: I know and you know and Solum knows that your superior understanding will count for nothing unless and until you come out from behind your cloak of anonymity and submit a reasoned objection to the scheme on the Council website with a name and address that checks out.

      I always post using my name: why don’t other ‘Twickenham residents’ do the same? What are they frightened of? I have been abused and traduced on this website by my ward councillor (no less) but no-one yet has thrown a brick though my (large) front windows, so I say you have nothing to fear but ridicule, which is harmless.

      If you wish to stop the scheme, do try. Do let us know when you have posted your objection, please, so that we may read it and learn from it. For my part, I am neutral about the scheme and will submit nothing to the Council website, for or against. I am simply expressing my opinion as to what will happen, like it or not. Obviously I know that Solum’s consultants are acting as advocates in their Planning Statement – so what?

  18. The key document is the Planning Statement, the 6th item on the web page. Re Affordable housing, see pp. 11 – 13:

    ‘ . . no affordable housing . . this approach has been agreed by the council . . confidential financial assessment . . ‘

    It seems clear that this application has been agreed by officers in advance & is expected to sail through. What will TRAG-SOS have to say when they see what has been cooked up, I wonder?

  19. The piling work for the podium is scheduled for October [there are no rugby internationals this autumn] so Solum are looking for a quick go-ahead for this scheme, either from the Council or form an Inspector on appeal. So if you wish to comment or object you should do so quickly. Note however that they haven’t yet submitted drawings of the scheme so it would be better to wait until they are published before saying you don’t like them.