New in Town
So then, what bright new diversions have we got to amuse us on the High Street this January? Not a lot to be honest but we just couldn’t enter the new year without bringing you a spanking new High Street Update. It’s simply not the done thing. Our previous update was jam packed with stuff, what with Belmont closing, the return of The Fox and Marc Jason’s Shoeworld opening and all that. We think we had it all covered. So what now? Is there even anything left to look forward to? Ever?

Well, the Gurhka’s Inn is now up and running at 25 York Street and alongside it at number 27 in what used to be Sagar (Indian restaurant) is now Atithi (Indian restaurant). Why? Because you can never have too many South Asian eateries, apparently.

Heading up Heath Road to opposite the Alsford timber yard and next to the kebab shop, two empty units are being turned into… a deli grocer / cafe. Are you spotting a theme developing? We don’t want to sound like a bunch of miseries but delicatessens don’t have a great track record in the town. London Road, King Street and Church Street have all played host to short-lived delis in the last few years. Will this one work? We hope so and the market is probably more receptive now than it was back then, but will it be too far from the Sandys / Laverstoke axis to get sufficient foodie footfall? It’s certainly a risk. And as to whether we really need another cafe in Twickenham, well, that’s a subject for heated debate across the whole of Middlesex County. But we like the idea of a decent deli carrying a diverse range of stock so good luck to ’em.

Meanwhile spies report that the premises of long defunct hair salon, “Forever” on London Road is showing signs of life. That sure was one hairdresser that didn’t live up to its name. Anywayyy… we say “spies” but what we really mean is that it’s got a big “Let By” sign over it and a bloke was recently spotted inside fiddling with a plug socket. There you go. PROOF! We await full details but apparently it’s going break new ground in Twickenham by trialling the sale of “curryccinos”! Imagine it, “Would you like garam masala sprinkled on top, madam?”

Shops. What shops?
Rambling on… with a whole shiny year ahead of us, perhaps it’s time to ponder on what shops Twickenham needs in its shopping streets especially as we have quite of lot of retail roadage. From Richmond Road near Lebanon Park through to Heath Road up by Twickenham Green, including Church Street and London Road, there’s a huge amount of shop frontage to fill with cafes, chemists, charity shops, independent traders, estate agents and more charity shops. There’s over a mile’s worth of stuff. With Richmond and Kingston down the road and out-of-town and online shopping becoming the norm for many, there simply isn’t the volume of trade going on locally that there once was. Or not for the same kind of things. And anyway, who has the patience to stroll up and down a high street buying 20 individual items from 20 different shops? You don’t that’s for sure. Unless it’s for some week-end leisure activity, of course. Ahh, so that’s what the cafes are for.

With this in mind it’s worth a look at El Brute’s Twickenham Area Action Plan which is now out for your comments and consultation. It’s good to have plan for the town event if it does contain a lot of what our American friends might refer to as motherhood and apple pie. After all, what’s not to like about a thriving retail, tourist, rugby destination full of wonderful shops (both chain and independent), restaurants, cafes, bars and community open space complete with children’s choir? Yes please to all of that! And the money to fund it. And the appropriate landlord and planning permissions too! One thing the TWAP does do is suggest the Twickenham retail area is focused more heavily around King Street, York Street and Church Street. To get some kind of ‘shopping critical mass’ does seems pretty sensible even if that does sound like the freakish lovechild of Mary Portas and Professor Brian Cox. It would help to create a clear shopping destination but they’ll have to move fast on York Street if that’s not to become wall to wall bars, cafes and curry houses. In fact, did you know that two more cafes have opened since you started reading this article?

LINKS:
Twickenham Area Action Plan

BTW, our last High Street Update is here, or just wend your way back in time by clicking on the “High Street updates” on the Categories Index on the right.