Strawberry Hill is up in arms, the natives with their strange customs are revolting and beautiful maidens are fainting at the thought of Horace Walpole spinning in his grave. Is it the plot of a recently discovered gothic novel? No, it’s the latest edition of the Strawberry Hill Residents Association’s newsletter. It majors on a boundary dispute that’s rocking the Hill and putting other territorial conflicts around the world into the shade. The SHRA is outraged that Twickenham has launched a vicious land grab on parts of Strawberry Hill under the auspices of Richmond Council’s ‘village plans’.
The plans (which have been around for a while) define the Council’s vision of what each ‘village’ in the borough will be like and what the Council and residents can do to make that happen.
The SHRA has a long-standing definition of what it considers to be Strawberry Hill but in a savage piece of manoeuvring reminiscent of the darkest days of the 20th century, El Brute’s plan shows 800 homes annexed by Twickenham. The result? These roads will now be covered by the Twickenham village plan, aka the Twickenham Area Action Plan, aka the TWAP. It’s brutal.
So what? Well, this is where it really hits home. El Brute’s vision is that ‘Strawberry Hill will continue to be an attractive residential area’. That sounds nice doesn’t it? And what of Twickenham? Blimey O’Reilly, what a contrast! El Brute’s scheming will see a ‘vision for [Twickenham] town centre based on a high quality town centre serving local residents, workers and visitors… The rest of the area is largely residential with some local shopping parades. These areas will be preserved and enhanced’. Preserved and enhanced? The sheer audacity of it!
That’s right folks, residential streets that no longer fall within the SHRA’s definition of Strawberry Hill such as Tennyson Avenue, Heath Gardens and parts of Radnor and Wellesley Roads will not be part of a vision of ‘an attractive residential area’ but will suffer the indignity of being ‘preserved and enhanced’ alongside the rest of residential Twickenham. This boundary dispute can only lead to one thing. WAR!
In the interests of trying to secure peace for our time, twickerati canvassed a few opinions on the matter. One resident from the heart of Strawberry Hill said, “No, I didn’t know about that”. Another, in one of the affected streets bordering Heath Road said, “I never really consider myself as living in Strawberry Hill. I can see Heath Road from my front gate,” and another in the Wellesley Road area said, “I’ve lived in the area for 15 years… territory and a sense of belonging are massively emotional issues to some people but I’m not sure if I’m overly vexed, personally”. Boom!
To be fair some people are very concerned and the residents of Upper Grotto Road and a few other streets may have a point. But if push comes to shove they can still tell friends and contacts they live in Strawberry Hill, no one is likely to refer to the Council website to check. After all, Twickenham is still in the County of Middlesex, right? Perhaps there would be more reason for outrage if the two visions conflicted but they appear to be rather similar. But then again, when has a such an annexation ever been resolved peacefully? If we really are heading for war then we must surely need Tony Blair to act as a special peace envoy consultant? Actually, on second thoughts, let’s just have the war.