Twickenham Action Plan Update

We haven’t talked about the TWAP for a while. Just as well, some might think. But guess what, others might take the view that it’s time for a bit of an update, and so here we are…
What with temporary lights flashing away in red, amber and green, an influx of hi-viz clothing, plenty of repetitive noise and crash barriers to keep people from straying into dangerous areas you’d be forgiven for thinking Twickenham was at the heart of some kind of early rave scene revival. But before you dig out your whistle and do that silly round-and-round wavy thing with your hands we’d like to reassure you that that’s not what’s going on. All that stuff? It’s the Twickenham Area Action Plan In Action, obviously.

Some TWAP work going on
Some TWAP work going on

We’ve got posh pavements going in left, right and centre. And these aren’t just any replacement paving stones, these are hand-carved, free-range, M&S, York stone paving stones. They’re bigger, better and above all wider than before. You’ll have seen them already in York Street where the new look has led Councillor Chris Harrison, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, to decree that it’s “completely been transformed with the high quality York stone that has been laid”. We certainly agree that they look good but with Bathrooms4All (now Bathrooms4None) still an eyesore, several other premises vacant and traffic just like before, York Street’s still got a bit more transforming to do. And as for Foxtons, they don’t even seem to have an ‘off’ switch for their electric lights. Say what, man? Rising leccy bills don’t mean shit to those dudes!

But with added pavement width comes less road width – it’s the yin and the yang of road planning. The extra width on Heath Road means two lanes now run into King Street instead of three. There is (probably) some logic here in that moving the bus stops out of King Street will mean that buses just form part of the ‘normal’ flow of traffic through central Twickenham. Obviously passengers changing buses might need to make a bit of a trek and maybe Starbucks and KFC can expect a drop in sales to ‘bus waiters’ but perhaps that’s all part of some masterplan. The TWAP scheme will also get rid of some of the sign clutter, provide more bike parking and, we hope, make cycling around central Twickenham a better experience. And hey, down on Twickenham Embankment they’re even making some kind of tidal water garden.

Will you look at the width of that!
Will you look at the width of that!

Linked to this was the proposed ending of right turns from King Street into Water Lane or Church Street. We’ve said before on here that that seemed to be a solution to a problem that just doesn’t exist. But TFL seemed to be worried about it. After further discussion it now looks as if there will just be a ‘precautionary power’ to give the ‘option’ to block right turns at peak times. In other words, the big non-problem has been solved through a last minute compromise. Phew! Crack open the bubbly.

El Brute will soon be providing an update on how the TWAP work is progressing and it will be useful to see more detail on the changes and the timing of the work. After all the hullabaloo about cycle lanes, it will be especially interesting to see what the final plan is for advance cycle stops and bike lanes (and whether they’re advisory or mandatory) and whether and how the Council is trying to move Twickenham towards the much touted cycle-friendly ‘mini-Holland’ promised land.

Flat Out Development
Meanwhile, Twickenham is seeing a surge of plans to convert office space into flats.
There’s been a bit of debate on our ‘Your News’ section of this site but the ones getting most coverage relate to Bridge House (London Road, opposite Regal House) and Queen’s House on Holly Road. Now, as you know Bridge House is one of the blandest office buildings in Twickenham – no wonder it’s been empty for a while. Converting it into 41 flats will be a small step towards meeting the ever increasing demand for housing locally but will close off one possible option for new businesses moving into the town. We can’t have it both ways and an occupied building has to be better than an empty one.

Contrary to popular belief Regal House is not actually the ugliest building in Twickenham – at least Regal House has a kind of design idea behind it. The accolade of ugliest building surely goes to Queen’s House which, if it were to pick up any kind of architectural gong, would probably receive the “Devoid of Inspiration But As It’s Hidden Away We’re Hoping No One Will Notice” Award. That’s also up for the ol’ residential treatment and 41 flats could be going in there too. Bridge House and Queens House both have some parking spaces but there are sure to be some locals unhappy at the change of use – more cars, more people, more bloody everything.

Other places getting the same treatment include some or all of: Holly House on Heath Road; Lion Boathouse on Eel Pie Island; 13-15 London Road (above Caffe Nero). Not on the list, at least not yet, is the old office block on Heath Road (opposite Tesco Express) where the proposal is to knock it down and replace it with 24 flats. And, with the Kings Arms pub in Albion Road closing recently we’ve heard that that could become residential too – just like the former pub round the corner in Colne Road that saw out its final days as Austins Bar.

El Brute has a page showing all the ‘change of use’ requests to go from office space to residential. You can see the list, and it’s a long one, via the link below. (Thanks to Yvonne for posting that on Your News). Squeezing in more flats has to be better than having office space sitting idle but let’s hope all this development work can attract new businesses too. Twickenham cannot live by cappuccino alone.

So, how’s that Twickenham TWAP thing working out for you then?


Council Links…

* Twickenham Action Plan
* Right turn into Water Lane
* Improvement works press release
* EL Brute Planning Summary – change of use