It was never going to happen. Boris was never really going to challenge El Brute’s approval of Solum’s plans for Twickenham station, and he hasn’t. Why would he? There’s nothing to be gained for him in kicking up a fuss about plans given the seal of approval by a London Borough controlled by fellow Conservatives. So the Solum freight train rumbles on and we can assume that development will now get going in earnest. And of course, it’s best if it does. Let’s av it! After all the debates, discussions and deliberations, we need our new station up and running as quickly as possible. A much bigger farce than any we’ve seen up to now would be to find that, after all this fuss and the bizarre denouement at December’s Planning Committee, the place is still a building site when the 2015 Rugby World Cup comes to town. The current station needs improving, additional development on the site is a sensible idea, and although Solum’s scheme has some good aspects and falls short on others, it’s the only scheme that’s been approved. Get on with it.
And where now for TRAG? They worked hard to raise awareness of the inadequacies of the scheme, were a little too nimbyish for some, but should be able to take some credit for the minor concessions made by Solum whose final plans are definitely a bit more appropriate than their initial offering. Will TRAG disband or move to focus on new issues? There’s likely to be a fair few given the number of sites up for redevelopment. Or will they go underground, fighting a guerrilla war against the station development in the leafy streets of TW1?
And finally, given that some concerns were expressed that the plans for the station itself (as opposed to the accompanying development) weren’t up to scratch in a number of areas one does have to wonder whether the Network Rail / Kier Property joint venture were sufficiently focused on making the station as good as it could be (yes folks, we’re talking the parts that Twickenham residents, workers and rugby fans use the most) rather than simply maximising the development potential of the site. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out and whether the new station is one that’s “just OK” or one that Twickenham can be proud of.