Twickenham Station: Decision Time?

Twickenham Station commuters

Solum Regeneration’s plans for developing the Twickenham station site go before a special edition of El Brute’s planning committee on Monday 19th December. You can drop by if you want. Could it result in an early Christmas present for the developers who want to build up the site with 115 flats (no parking, no affordable housing), retail space and, because we’ve been good girls and boys this year, squeeze in a new station building too? Ho ho ho. It’s an issue that’s been rumbling for a long, long time and despite valiant opposition from the resistance fighters of TRAG this could mark the point at which the Solum runaway train becomes unstoppable. Whoa! It’s true that the fat lady is warming up her vocal cords but she hasn’t actually started singing yet. There are a few more hoops to go through, conditions to be met and no doubt plenty of experts looking for loopholes and challenges. It’s going to be an interesting debate, especially hearing how the planners’ recommendation for permission to be granted stacks up against the Council’s own planning SPD framework for the area which advocated a maximum of 4 or 5 storeys on the station site. Spoilum’s plans more or less double that. So, although it might not yet be all over, approval on Monday will mark another milestone along the road of developers getting their way in the face of opposition from vocal locals. And remember folks, everyone wants to see Twickenham station improved, it’s all about the how.

We’ll not go back over the issues in detail here, you know them already. But if you’ve not seen TRAG’s Plan B it’s on their website. It’s definitely worth a look and shows a good contrast between what Solum are proposing and what an alternative option of a low-rise development focused on improving the station facilities might involve. Some might regard it as something more in line with what the town and rugby crowds might need rather than what the Network Rail / Kier joint venture machine wants.

For many the 19th of December could mark a low point in the development of Twickenham whereas those in the pro-development lobby might take the view that from here, the only way is up… hi-rise stylee!

The meeting is at York House on 19th December at 7.00pm. It is open to the public and will also be webcast on the Council’s site.

LINKS:
* TRAG SOS (includes PLan B & links on how to comment on Solum’s plans)
* El Brute’s Planning Committee Details
* Planning Dept Report

17 Comments

Filed under Council, Local Issues & News, Station Development

17 responses to “Twickenham Station: Decision Time?

  1. twickerman

    It was a remarkable u-turn by the Conservative councillors who chose en masse to disregard the planning policy they recently promoted and adopted.
    Well done to Lib Dem councillors Ellengorm and Miller for recognising the demonstable harm that this development will do to Twickenham.
    Shame on the Tory turncoats.
    Shame we have to wait so long until the next election to kick them out.
    p.s. I don’t normally praise the Lib Dems, but after the Conservative catholic school shambles, and the Solum station shocker they appear to be the voice of reason on the big issues in RuT.

  2. Well, that’s it, the committee has approved 5 votes against 4! I’m gutted… What can we do now? Street protests?

  3. Gawain

    I’m no astroturfer. i’m a local resident who wants a better station, realises that the magical-woderful money-fairy was booted out at the last Election (though even they didn’t propose to rebuild the station!), ain’t coming back anytime soon and that developers (whisper it) are not a social service and need to make a p-r-o-f-i-t.Sorry.

    (BTW, TRAG’s organisation extends to mailing me “as someone who objected” to the proposal online, when I clearly backed it. No wonder there’s no funding plan.

  4. Simon H

    True enough. Solum may not be brilliant, but it’s not at all bad.

  5. Turfraiser

    The river walkway opening up access to the Moormead is an excellent side benefit. A pleasing gateway to Twickenham will enhance property and letting values in the run up to the World Cup particulalry in a period of general economic gloom.

  6. Simon H

    I’d be gutted if they were going to mess up my view, Michael, so I do sympathize. But this sort of high-density, but not unattractive development is the future for ugly brownfield sites. As I say, go to the Isle of Dogs or Limehouse and you’ll be reassured that it probably won’t be the monstrosity you fear.

  7. Michael

    Did I say paid? Sorry, I meant unpaid. I’m talking about the view from my window of the station I use every day so I guess my objection’s not just for the sake of it. You’re right of course that Twickenham needs a news station, but the monstrosity proposed by Solum is something that won’t be undone in our lifetimes if it goes ahead. More modest and sensitive proposals can at least be developed appropriately in the future.

  8. Simon H

    Well, I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m certainly not in the pay of Solum. I just dislike people who object to things for the sake of it.

  9. Michael

    I love the way the TRAG proposal opens up the space, enhancing accessibility for all – and that’s what they’ve come up with on next to no budget.

    No doubt Solum’s paid astroturfers will continue to slag it off here and elsewhere as we approach the planners’ decision, but fact is TRAG’s suggestion makes an excellent contrast to the hideous brutalism of Solum’s proposals and a great basis on which to develop more locally sensitive ideas.

  10. Turfraiser

    The entrance facade on the Cole Park Residents plan ‘B’ looks a fine example of post-Stalinist brutalist architecture. Resemblant of the parliament building in Tirana. Costings? Development funding? Income stream projections?

  11. The parallel was referring not so much to the actual design but to Solum’s approval in Walthamstow being rushed along (according to Fight the Height) amid fear that the building would not be complete by the London 2012 Olympics in the same way that Twickenham has the ‘spectre’ of the station not being ready for the 2015 Rugby World Cup getting people all panicky. It’s also mildly interesting to see that they’re building a Travelodge in the ‘Stow whereas in Twickenham they’ve been beaten to that by the Regal House extension. Who’d have thought E17 and TW1 were so similar?

    After victories in Walthamstow and Epsom and with other developments planned, it seems unlikely that Solum will walk away from this particular development. If memory serves, TRAG had previously done some work to estimate Solum’s profit margin on the Twickenham development and it was, shall we say, fairly healthy. TRAG’s Plan B might not have detailed planning behind it, maybe one of them can comment on that on here, however it’s not unrealistic to expect that Solum could modify their design and still make a very healthy return for their shareholders. Let’s just hope there’s no giant recession just around the corner.

  12. Simon H

    That tower block is twice the height (and much thinner) than the proposed Twickers one.

  13. Some parallels in the Twickenham Rugby World Cup Station debate with Solum’s other development in Walthamstow (a station + tall Travelodge) which is supposed to be ready in time for London 2012.
    http://fighttheheight.blogspot.com/2011/11/tower-block-work-starts.html

  14. Simon H

    I’ve just been looking at the proposed Solum development on the TRAG website. I have to say, without any irony, that it looks great. When it’s built, a lot of people might be pleasantly surprised.

  15. Simon H

    Quite, Gawain, quite. And has anyone on TRAG been to the Isle of Dogs? New, very attractive blocks of flats sit very easily next to older, much smaller buildings. If we stop the Solum development, the station will become another Riverside. Which, thanks to all the idiots (including me) who voted the Liberals out at the last election because of the development plans, is still a rubbish-strewn mess.

  16. Gawain

    Have we yet seen the Plan B funding proposal?

    Thought not.

  17. Twicktor Meldrew

    If it doesn’t go ahead in one form or another this is going to become Twickenham’s own Terminal 5 enquiry.