As if one judicial review wasn’t enough for Richmond Council, there’s only a-bloody-nother one coming along straight afterwards! It’s a bit like trains isn’t it? Funny dat, because this week will see El Brute back in court where its approval of Solum’s Twickenham station development plans will be subjected to the scrutiny of a judge.
You can check the background to this whole saga elsewhere (on here) but the gist of is:
– General rumblings about the need to redevelop the station area;
– Council sets framework for Twickenham development which includes a maximum of 5 storeys at Twickenham Station;
– Solum Regeneration submit plans for double this height (at the highest point), lowering it to eight and introducing a ‘Georgian terrace’ after some consultation;
– Although everyone wants a better station and there is some support for the scheme, many residents object as they regard the scheme as too high and placing more weight on building flats than creating a great station and transport interchange suitable for the next 30 years;
– Council asks its ‘Twickenham Advisory Panel’ to write a report on the plans which they do and which turns out, apparently, to express concern about Solum’s scheme. D’oh;
– Twickenahm Residents’ Action Group (TRAG) put forward ideas for alternative schemes;
– In December 2011 El Brute’s Planning Committee approves the Solum plan. Did they believe the approval was in line with the Council’s policies? Were they worried that further delay would risk the station would not be completed in time for the 2015 Rugby World Cup? Was there a real risk that Solum would walk away if asked to amend their plans? Or, were they simply very happy with the plan and have no reasons to object? Who knows? Well they do, obviously. Perhaps it was a bit of everything. Who knows? etc, etc.
So what now?
TRAG are hoping to have the Council’s decision thrown out by the Court and to require Solum to submit a new application to be reviewed in line with the Council’s planning framework. TRAG are also pushing their own Plan B as an alternative idea for what could be done with the site – low-rise, with some development but with priorities focused on making a station suitable for rugby crowds, commuters and other users. For their part, Solum continue to state the benefits of their vision for a better station including ‘a new ticket office located in a modern contemporary building’ and creating ‘a public plaza with restaurants and shops’.
The case will be in court on Thursday and Friday of this week.