Twickenham Embankment Makeover

What is Twickenham’s greatest asset? Its rugby connection? No. Its wide selection of charity shops, curry houses and cafes? Nope! Its people? Come off it! The only time “people are our greatest asset” is on that poster gathering dust behind the filing cabinet in HR. Well what then? It’s the river, stupid.

Our location on the banks of the greatest river in London, if not in the whole of Englandshire, is what raises Twickenham from being just another London suburb to being somewhere special. And we really do mean special rather than ‘special’. But there’s a dark secret at the heart of all this specialness. And it’s this: Twickenham does not always make the best use of its riverside location. But things have been changing and more change is on the way. The next few months will see improvements to Twickenham Embankment, and specifically to the section in front of the Diamond Jubilee Gardens which at the moment looks, well, a bit crap (see below).

Embankment, Twickenham

Embankment, Twickenham (a bit crap)

We’re talking new paving, new flower beds and planters, new lighting, clearer crossings. The work will also remove the current trees – presumably good news for those who park underneath and regularly get birds dumping on their cars (we don’t even want to think about what the blokes get up to!)

Anyway… the work follows in the footsteps of the creation of the Diamond Jubilee Gardens in 2012 and the 2009 improvements to the eastern end of Embankment near the Barmy Arms. The makeover will give a boost to this underused section of riverbank where the trees and ranks of parked cars effectively place a screen in front of the river. The work falls under the Twickenham Action Plan umbrella and the artist’s impression on El Brute’s website looks good. And cor blimey, they’ve even managed to make the majority of the cars disappear too. Now that’s magic!

A longer term plan should be to move the parking further back from the river (the ice cream van can stay, of course) and properly link up the Gardens to the river frontage but in the meantime, improving this section of “Twickenham’s greatest asset” is a good move. Work will start at the end of September and last for 21 weeks.

LINK:
* LBRuT Page

24 Comments

Filed under Council, Local Issues & News, Twickenham Action Plan

24 responses to “Twickenham Embankment Makeover

  1. twickerman

    Just wondering how many homes & streets in Riverside ward did/didn’t receive a Twickenham Rediscovered booklet

    Nobody in my road or neighbouring roads got one.

    Council claim 20k distributed, but where to?

    Please advise if you also missed out?

    • michelangelo

      I’m sure you can pick them up at the Council offices. Why not contact
      e.ridgeway@richmond.gov.uk; she is Director of Communications. They have presumably paid for distribution, and if a a deliverer has failed, they should be brought to book

  2. Steve Topol

    In reply to Michelangelo

    Proposal T1 was for the whole site – including the pool site, & the land next to it facing the river. Nowhere in the proposal was it specified that the Housing element was confined to just 1-33 King St. If it was the intention of the authors of the 2005 Unitary Development Plan to restrict housing to just one area of the site, they would have had to make this clear in their proposal. The fact that they didn’t do so permitted, in planning terms, permitted housing to be built anywhere on the site

  3. Blooper

    Actually, on the link it does say several trees are diseased.

    • Mumto1plus2

      You’re right. And there was me thinking they always looked so healthy and robust… Did you know that a human needs 7 to 8 mature trees worth of oxygen a year?

  4. Blooper

    I’m all for improvements but I like the trees too. They set things off nicely

  5. This is a cheap cut-down version of the wholesale improvements that were part of the River Centre scheme scrapped in 2010. The diseased chestnuts are to go [their removal is described as ‘tree planting’!] but not to be replaced as planned by pin oaks like those by the Barmy Arms, which are flourishing. So there will be no shade here in years to come when our summers will be much hotter than they are now.

    The car park, essential the Eel Pie island residents, will also stay as there is nowhere else to put it – the River Centre scheme moved it to the back to the site out of the way next to the access road.

    • michelangelo

      I must correct Mr Squire’s assertion about tree planting. There will be pin oaks planted. Perhaps it would have been better to check before making such a categorical statement.
      As to car parking, there are statements in the TAAP about this, eg para 7.5.5.5.
      I do not wish to dwell on the past, but I would remind Mr Squire that the River Centre scheme allowed for only a limited number of parking spaces on the enlarged access road, but not enough to accommodate all the existing spaces, let alone those generated by the occupants of the 33 luxury dwellings that would have been built.

    • I’m glad to learn there will be oaks – they are not mentioned on the council page and they are not shown in the illustration.

    • Alexis

      It’s little wonder that Mr Squire has got 14 thumbs down with only 1 thumb up. Doesn’t he remember that unqualified support for the much vilified River Centre project cost two LibDem cabinet members and a well-nigh invisible part hack their comfy seats in Riverside ward? Ex-leader Lourie accepted defeat, although somewhat gracelessly – Mr Squire doesn’t seem to have done so but then, he is, or was, the LibDem “webmaster” who may well have been responsible for the tacky “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire” gaffe, which rubbished those who dared to oppose the scheme, so he can probabably be excused for still feeling a bit sore about his party’s well earnt drubbing at the polls.
      Since Mr Squire is part of the LibDem family, his post concerns me somewhat so I hope that Riverside residents will question prospective LibDem Councillor Steve Topol about his previously unwavering support for the Riverside sell-off. Could he and his chums like Mr Squire have hopes of re-inventing the scheme if re-elected? Lets not forget that the CO2/CPZ tax scam was well hidden in their 2010 manifesto – who spotted that – could Mr Squire be trying to stop us seeing the wood for the trees? Alexis

    • Steve Topol

      I hope Riverside residents will question the current Riverside Councillors, as well as prospective candidates of all parties, about their policies. I’m always happy to answer questions from residents.

      The answer to Alexis’s question is that I would not support ‘re-inventing the scheme.’ Riverside residents may want to answer the Conservatives the same question. When the Conservatives ran the Council between 2002 – 2006, their Unitary Development Plan called for a mixed development on the pool site, to include housing.

    • Alexis

      My apology for a couple of fat fingered typos, however, more importantly my reference to the LibDem’s missing warning of the CO2/CPZ tax scam in their manifesto should have been 2006 not 2010, by which time many didn’t trust them anymore anyway.
      Mr Topol refers to the pre ’06 Tory plan for houses to be built on the Riverside site – I’ve had a look but failed to find it, perhaps Messr’s Topol or Squire would be kind enough to post a link? I’m sure they’ve got it at their fingertips.
      As an observation, the Twickenham Riverside mess brought down LibDem leader Serge Lourie and didn’t do a lot of good for his predecessor, Tory leader Tony Arbour, both of whom seemed to have something of a hubristic approach to the job and a determination to leave a vanity project as their legacy – both failed and, fortunately for us, one of them is gone and we seem to be moving into a more consensual phase of democracy.
      I do hope we don’t go back to the bad old days for a while.
      Alexis

    • Steve Topol

      I don’t have the site link at my fingertips, however, I do have a printed copy of the 2005 Unitary Development Plan, adopted by the then Conservative Council, in front of me now. Paragraph 12.54, proposal T1, explicitly calls for Housing on the site. Alexis will be able to obtain a copy of the document from the Council.

    • michelangelo

      Mr Topol – we have been through this so many times. Proposal T1 included the houses 1- 33 King St. This is the “housing on the site”.

  6. So – where are the residents supposed to park? The islanders’ cars won’t just vanish..
    And I hope – before they start faffing about with changing any road/access layouts – that they remember that there are high tides. Already, when Church St is closed off for events and there is a spring tide, we who live down that way cannot get to our own homes by car. You might not think that matters but it certainly does if you’ve got a frail elderly relative on the premises. See also, emergency vehicles etc.

  7. Blah

    I’m very pleased for the area as I love Twickenham, but with rising rents and crazy houses prices I may not be around to fully appreciate it.

  8. twickerman

    This run down section of the Embankment badly needs improving, but it’s disappointing that Council are going about the Twickenham Riverside regeneration in such a piecemeal way.

    Where are the plans for the area between Water Lane and the Jubilee gardens?
    Why aren’t the Council presenting more ambitious plans to move the parking away from the edge of Embankment?
    Why did the Council consult us on more ambitious plans, that we preferred, only to ignore us?

    This quickie makeover of the Embankment with ‘high quality…gravel’ etc is very disappointing and demonstrates a total lack of ambition from the Council leaders.

    Sadly, this smacks of a cynical attempt to tick another box before the Council elections next May!
    Twickenham Riverside: Done (badly).

    • michelangelo

      Have a look at the Adopted Twickenham Area Action Plan, paras 7.5.4.1 to 7.5.5.3. This gives a fairly good idea as to what is in the Council’s mind. Remember that the Council has only just acquired the car park behind the Santander building from F&C REIT, who manage all the estate from 1-33 King St on behalf of the freeholders, Omaha. It was stated quite clearly in the booklet Twickenham Rediscovered that the overall plans would take 2-3 years, and in the TAAP that it will be a phased programme. So we won’t get it all at once!

  9. Mumto1plus2

    Always pleased to see improvement but disappointed in the loss of the trees. Although I understand they restrict the view I just feel this council is a bit gung ho when it comes to tree removal. The beautiful cherry blossom trees were removed outside Waitrose in the name of improvement and in their place we have an ugly shrubbery which people treat as a litter bin. I also notice the blossom tree in the square at the bottom of Church Street was removed. No doubt they’ll replace these strong, healthy trees with new, smaller trees until they grow too big. It’s a shame. After all, they do provide oxygen for our over polluted city.

  10. Paul

    “A longer term plan should be to move the parking further back from the river ” . Absolutely – the most scenic part of Twickenham being used as a car park makes a mockery of any sensible Twickenham Plan.

  11. Simon cassini

    Will they get round to fixing the wall in water lane which has been temporarily fenced off for months now and is a right eyesore which people have to walk into the road to skirt round, quite apart from losing 5 parking spaces..

    • Yes – they’re taking their time with that one. And that parking space behind the wall could be very useful for, say, one-hour short-stay shoppers. We need more access to the nation’s high streets, not less!