A building of some kind is going up on the old Royal Mail Sorting Office site. We’re not sure whether it’s actually part of the planned development (it doesn’t look like it) but there it is nevertheless, like a zit on a teenager’s face that’s appeared out of nowhere. Is it the beginning of something more serious or is it just something that’ll soon disappear? We’re reckoning on the former. The sales office seems to be the most likely candidate.
Meanwhile the work to redevelop Twickenham Station is still almost getting underway. We’ve already had longer platforms installed. Now, on Sunday 15th there’ll be no trains through Twickenham on the grounds of “station and bridge work”. Is this the next step en route to the big build? There’s not been much information forthcoming about the timetable for Solum’s construction scheme. We’re looking forward to the developers sharing their secrets with us, especially about what work will be completed in advance of the 2015 Rugby World Cup and what will take place afterwards. With less than 2 years to go it would be nice if the powers that be were inclined to share a teeny bit more on the subject. Or, perhaps we shouldn’t worry our pretty little heads about it.
Meanwhile arguments continue over the suitability of the plans for traffic flow in and around King Street as part of the Twickenham Action Plan. The lot of cyclists still seems particularly unclear. You’ll recall that the original TWAP plans seemed to be a long, long way from the aspirational mini-Holland bid that El Brute submitted to Boris HQ. We now learn that the Council have been asked to submit a further, more refined bid which we take as a sign of progress on the ‘going Dutch’ front. What’s more El Brute seem to have become a tad more engaged with the cycling lobby than previously. That’s good news. The revised bid includes “improve[d] cycle permeability through Twickenham town centre”. We’re not entirely sure what that is (something to do with a bike proof mesh?) but surely it can’t be long before we see the Blue Baron touring the borough on a Pashley. Well he’s not going to ride around a Raleigh Chopper is he?!
One development that has been approved is to add a contra-flow cycle lane to Holly Road. This will allow cyclists to go from west to east. It’ll still be open to vehicles heading the other way and so we hope the planned demarcations and signage are “super-clear” given the narrowness of that road.
Another part of the TWAP plans were aimed at solving a problem that nobody knew existed, namely the ‘issue’ of traffic turning right from King Street into Water Lane at peak times. After all, what’s wrong with driving past the entrance to Water Lane, along York Street, left into Arragon Road then left again into London Road, down to King Street and then left into Water Lane. Come on, what’s an extra five minutes anyway? Many residents, especially those on Eel Pie Island aren’t impressed with the idea and feel they weren’t made aware of the consultation over the proposal.
On the plus side, a majority of Twickenham’s business have voted to support a ‘Business Improvement District’ stretching from the town centre, north to the station area and west to Twickenham Green. The ‘Time for Twickenham’ BID status means that a levy is raised from all businesses in the designated area (except the very smallest) based on their rateable value and the revenue generated is used to fund a set of agreed improvements in that area. It’s a type of coordinated self-funded, self-help scheme if you will, which is probably why ‘BID’ is used as a snappier description than ‘CSFSHS’. The BID runs for an initial period of 5 years and it’s estimated that £1.25m will be raised and invested over that time. Projects covered by the scheme include the marketing and promotion of Twickenham, planning for future changes and improving the attractiveness of the town through, for example, cleaning up graffiti.
So there you have it. It looks as if 2014 will see the rumbling of planes, trains and automobiles augmented by the steady hum of construction work. And that, little friends, is the future sound of Twickenham. Happy now?