Fat Controllers “Disappointed” by Twickenham

Twickenham station in the news again? It’s just like old times here on twickerati. If brevity is the soul of wit then this ought to be bloody hilarious. But it’s not. Let’s get to it anyway…

In summary, disappointed Fat Controllers are not happy bunnies that their plans to develop Twickenham station are having the brakes applied by local objectors.
In super-summary form, rail bosses say 😦

A quick canter through selected events, in rough chronological order tells us the following:

1) Solum Regeneration (the JV between Network Rail & Kier Property) propose large development of Twickenham station site which seems more focused on building flats than comprehensive station improvements.
2) TRAG and others up in arms about plans. Much petitioning and campaigning.
3) Richmond Council produce planning guidelines for the area suggesting 4-5 storeys appropriate for the station.
4) Solum make some concessions & reduce height… from 10 to 8 storeys at the highest point. They also go for fewer, posher flats and introduce the concept of the Georgian terrace as part of a station development. This move provides the clear architectural link between a shiny modern station, the first passenger railway in 1825 and the end of the Georgian era in 1830. Clearly they too have access to wikipedia.
5) TRAG produce Plan B, a ‘low rise’ proposal as a suggested alternative scheme.
6) RFU suggests that Solum is the only game in town (apart from rugby, presumably) after getting in a panic that rugby fans heading for the 2015 World Cup will arrive in a building site.
7) Richmond Council approve Solum’s plans amid much upset from TRAG campaigners and the famous York House ‘lock out’.
8) Funding received from Mayor of London for routine improvements to the platforms and footbridges that, for some reason, were not dealt with by Solum’s scheme. Err, why not?
9) TRAG petition the High Court for a judicial review of the planning process saying LBRuT failed to take account of their Plan B, failed to consider the report of the Twickenham Advisory Panel and did not get sufficient commitment to the work being completed by the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
10) Network Rail and SouthWest Trains say they are “disappointed” with the delays to their plans that the judicial review will create. Building work to stop for 6 months and suggestions from the rail guys that it could put completing the work in time for the 2015 rugby world cup in jeopardy. A stick gets waved about possibly taking their investment elsewhere. Commuters wonder how SW Trains disappointment over delays equates to their own disappointment when trains are delayed or overcrowded.

What does it all mean?
1) Are TRAG wasting everyone’s time with their legal challenge or are they raising genuine concerns over a process that was certainly not always crystal clear?
2) Are Network Rail and SouthWest Trains getting their excuses in early because they know they’re already up against a tight timetable to deliver the improvements or are they speaking for the majority of rail users?
3) Will a delay for a legal review seriously affect the build time or is this just a bluff from the Fat Controllers?
4) Is there, or indeed was there ever, any chance of Plan B going ahead given that Solum are clearly not interested in it?

Who knows? You do, of course.

Twickenham Station commuters

LINKS:
* TRAG
* Rail industry statement

* And just for fun, here’s a link to a local news site in Guildford covering Solum’s scheme there. Some interesting and familiar comments.

22 Comments

Filed under Local Issues & News, Station Development

22 responses to “Fat Controllers “Disappointed” by Twickenham

  1. Adam

    Am I the only one that thinks the current station is good enough? We’ve hosted rugby world cups and capacity crowds at Twickenham Stadium many times without a problem.

    For people that use the station every day (rather than the ones that only use it a couple of times a year for events) it seems to do the job perfectly adequately.

  2. jon

    To those that thinks the solum drawing of the future station is ‘lovely’ – PLEASE NOTE! Just to the left of the picture is a four-lane highway over the railway bridge… and over that another prospect for redevelopment, the old sorting office..

    Do tell, does a grand building celebrating twickenham rugby, with large crowd access underneath the bridge that would mean no need for road closures, and maintain the ‘green’ area, have a better draw than massive office blocks where it is difficult to FIND the station???

  3. twickerman

    If the RFU and IRB had invested in Twickenham station, from the expected RWC2015 profits of more than £300m, we would have had an improved station without the 8 and 9 storey residential towers blocks.
    Instead we will have a building site!

  4. Anonymous

    Incidentally, the designs for Plan B look like Walthamstow dog track. If that’s what the majority want, fair enough. But I’m not sure they do.

    • Chris

      If by that you mean it doesn’t have a great block of flats above it then, yes it does.
      However, by using the same logic, the current proposal looks like Romford Dogs.

  5. Simon H

    I think everyone in the TRAG should be sent on a fact-finding trip round Docklands to see how modern blocks of flats can be both attractive and blend in well with low-rise older buildings. If, after that, they’re still not happy and want to carry on with the legal action, fine.

  6. I am in favour of the station being developed, but don’t want a high-rise of the station as I don’t see how that will improve the station in any way.

    Now that the Mayor has given Network Rail money to redevelop the platforms and the ticket office, this can happen without putting flats on the station.

    I think accepting the flats and the increase in commercial spaces in the station has become moot – without them we will still get an improved station.

    • bobchewie

      Surely that’s the point isn’t it? Improving the station ?

    • Twicktor Meldrew

      So how much money has the Mayor given NR to do up the station? I really want a better station but I suspect the flats are inevitable if it’s going to be paid for. Boris can’t be generous enough to finance the lot.

  7. Chris

    For any supporters of the development I would say that any Twickenham resident who has had the opportunity to analyse the plans proposed by Solum would not endorse them.

    Furthermore, why should those people who will come into contact with the “renovation” on a daily basis be denied the right to ensure that a positive legacy is left for future generations of both residents and visitors rather than a potential eyesore? As has been demonstrated by various pieces of architecture around the country, the quality of real estate development can have a real effect on the social and economic development of a town. After all, it is clear that Twickenham town centre is in need of some real economic investment.

    Bearing all of this in mind, those who thoughtlessly jump on the “just-let-them-get-on-with it, I’m-sure-it-will-be-fine” bandwagon should rethink their stance, or they’ll be the only ones left in this town; well, them and the 115+ station-residents-to-be (who, as it happens, will have not one parking space to share between them). Now that would be a real investment prospect.

  8. Twicktor Meldrew

    At best, this has become Twickenham’s Terminal 5. At worst, TRAG have lost Twickenham a new station.

    I’d like to know how TRAG will rescue this situation if Solum decide to develop elsewhere. They may have their faults but what Solum’s proposal did have was funding. TRAG seem to have no concept of how projects pay for themselves.

  9. Todd

    Lets Move with the times and stop holding back Twickenham and get the development going pls..this is a viable plan with investment behind it…

  10. bobchewie

    It sounds like a bloody mess with differing views why can’t they improve the station isn’t that the whole point ? Why are property developers as usual wanting to get involved ?

  11. twickerman

    In the last few days there’s been much winging and whining from the fat controllers and fat cats concerned that their fat profits and fat bonuses may be at risk because of the JR.
    The reason for the JR is that LBRUT failed to follow its own planning guidelines and concealed a critical TAP report which damned Solum’s station plans.

    It now looks as if Twickenham residents and train users will have a 6 month reprieve from Solum’s 3 year station demolition /construction programme.
    Station closures were due to start on the weekends of October 20 and October 27 with evening and night works in between. Then there would have been an ongoing programme of station closures over the whole 3 year period.

    Solum stated the following objective in their pre-construction planning conditions (11/1443/DD03):
    “An overall objective during the construction works at Twickenham Station will be to MINIMISE THE USE OF THE STATION, and encourage passengers to use Richmond, Whitton and Hounslow stations, both for normal days and event days.”
    Unsurprisingly, Solum haven’t revealed the tactics they will use to minimise station use, or details of station closures, or of train replacement services (if indeed there will be any).

    Twickenham residents need to object to Solum’s planning application overall objective.
    We all also need to ask Solum, the Council, our local councillors, and Vince Cable for detailed information on the extent and impact of the planned station closures.
    Below is a link to Solum’s planning app’ on the LBRUT website:
    http://www2.richmond.gov.uk/PlanData2/Planning_CaseNo.aspx?strCASENO=11/1443/DD03

  12. Gareth Roberts

    A useful precis of events – one thing missing. The establishment of the Twickenham Advisory Panel to act as “an ‘honest broker’ – providing a forum for open dialogue between the community and Solum’

    The final paragraph from the TAP reporty
    “TAP does feel that the position Solum has taken has really restricted its
    work and what we have been able to achieve particularly Solum’s refusal
    to develop a Plan B as well as their arguably defensive and evasive
    approach to a number of questions from TAP some of which still remain
    unanswered.”

  13. Anonymous

    I think TRAG are right to have this reviewed. Solum’s plans seem to focus on the new flats and shop fronts, rather than the upgrade of the station itself. This is confirmed by the money that the GLA are having to put in as well. If the RFU are so concerned about the World Cup deadline, then perhaps Solum should be paid to update the station first before worrying about their faux Georgian shopping parade.

    • bobchewie

      I thought it was about improving the station

    • TedF

      How do you intend to pay for it? The problem for me was never the idea of someone daring to make some money out of this, but more that the council seemed to be desperately trying to get a developer in no matter what, just because of the 2015 deadline. What is it with councils going hell-for-leather after short-term sporting events? Oh yeah, it’s because it’s high-profile and they’ll be long gone once the dust settles.

      I would sooner see a new station developed in association with a private company who can then part fund it, and in this way both residents, commuters, the company, the council, and people who need houses ALL get something out of the deal.

      Instead, the council is pressing forward with plans that weren’t popular, or even fit for purpose, all because of it’s own self-imposed 2015 limitation. Why not negotiate with developers – many of whom would LOVE to get their hands on such a location – from a position of strength, rather than one of weakness? The council is staffed by people with no idea how to get a good deal for the taxpayer, and no motivation to do so.

    • Gareth Roberts

      Hang on Ted, that’s going a touch far. There are plenty of hard-working, dedicated staff at the council who do a fine job many of whom have been involved in this project.

      There’s also the issue, of course, that the council doesn’t own the station, Network Rail does. It is Network Rail who has chosen Solum as the developer, not the council.

      Where the council, or to be more accurate the Conservative administration, comes into this is in the way in which they led many people in the borough to believe that they would do two things.

      1) They would be the firewall against over development at Twickenham Station. They even went so far as to say, before the 2010 elections, that the only way to stop the Lib Dems from imposing high rise at the station was to vote them out and elect the Tories.

      2) They promised to listen to the public – still up on their website is this paragraph

      “Cllr Scott Naylor spoke against the podium at December’s meeting and says; “The decisions made in the coming months will affect the people of Twickenham for the rest of their lives. If they want another tower block in the town centre so be it. But if not now is the time to say so. Don’t let others make such a big decision for you.”
      http://www.twickenhamconservatives.com/twickenham-riverside-ward

      Now I don’t doubt that there are plenty of people who are fine with the station being developed as proposed however how the Conservatives have behaved on this issue brings into question their fundamental trustworthiness. They came to power saying one thing and delivered the opposite.