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.
* 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.