New Pavements, New Flats and Twickenham TWAPs

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?

LINKS:

Council Links…

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

46 Comments

Filed under Local Issues & News, Twickenham Action Plan

46 responses to “New Pavements, New Flats and Twickenham TWAPs

  1. Anonymous

    As a small business owner (non retail) looking to a grow, office space I can find. What I can’t do is convince staff to relocate somewhere where they can’t find housing. In Twickenham the current balance does feel like it’s too much retail and commercial, not enough residential, to support local employment.

  2. Presumably the logic is to resolve all traffic and bus issues before King Street so that King Street can flow slowly but smoothly. And doing this means means getting everything into single lane before entry to King Street. This would seem to suggest that the price of doing that is longer jams on Heath Road, Cross Deep, Richmond Road etc. Presumably the very finest minds and machines have been brought to bear on this issue and will prove the naysayers wrong.

    What many might think of as strange, illogical or likely to add to congestion in Twickenham may turn out not to be the case. In this event, the naysayers will hold their hands up and cry heartily. “We apologise. We underestimated the finest minds”. And if the opposite situation arises and the scheme does not work as planned and the town centre experience becomes worse, then we can be confident that great Twickenham public will accept the resignations of those who proposed it and the consultants will refund their fee to the Council.

    Or perhaps everyone will be right. As usual.

    Bus stop locations can be seen here:
    http://www.richmond.gov.uk/home/council_government_and_democracy/council/currentprojects/twickenham_rediscovered/improving_twickenham_town_centre/bus_stops.htm

    • anonymouse

      If or when it goes wrong the Council will blame:

      – the previous admistration (default setting)
      – deselected councillors
      -TFL
      – Atkins (consultants)
      – Road users for not behaving as they did in the ancient study the Council used
      – Road users for being ungrateful for the extra window shopping time as they crawl through the town centre.

      Not that it will go wrong of course!
      #wehavetheutmostconfidence

  3. twickerman

    The severely narrowed King Street might just about cope with the huge traffic flows if it was designated as a red route. But, El Brute are keen for delivery vehicles to be able to stop in the inside lane (across the intermittent part time advisory cycle lane), so it will only be painted with single yellow lines.

    Currently delivery vehicles stop in the bus lane, leaving two vehicle lanes open for the traffic to flow.

    Would anyone care to guess what will happen to the traffic ‘flow’ when delivery vehicles block the inside lane of the new slimline dual carriageway in busy periods?

  4. Walked pass the new widened pedestrian area on Heath Road this morning and they’ve plonked a bus stop on it. So now, not only have they taken then bus lane away, they’re proposing buses stop in one of the lanes as they drop and pick up passengers. Effectively reducing the funnel in to the centre to one lane.

    What could possibly go wrong

    • Yvonne Hewett

      Everything?

    • bob

      in case you missed it, there is much more…. 🙂
      http://www.richmond.gov.uk/principles_of_scheme_overview.pdf

    • Ernest Marples

      Note that there’ll be a reduction in the number of bus stops for buses coming in via Heath Rd; Copthall Gdns and King St being replaced by one new one (will TfL call it Marks & Spencer?). Less convenient, possibly, but should improve bus transit times.

      The main improvement in traffic flow will be because King St will have 2 unobstructed lanes both ways with no bus stops. This ought to improve matters in all 4 approach roads.

    • bob

      I just saw the ‘Marks & Spencer’ stop, and it seems a long way from the kerb… another mistake ( I would have thought using the Morrisons lay-by would be simpler??)
      or are they going to rip up that lovely york stone to make a bus lay-by??? If not, I wait the chaos not only from normal bus stopping times, but extended ones due to it stopping there for extended times, due to engine failure, or passenger misbehaviour…. LOL LOL

    • Hester Huttenbach

      Talking to a chap from London Transport today (loads of them in town today to check that everyone knew the bus stops had moved) he was bemused by the whole situation which was brought about by the council. They did not want to lose the bus stop interchanges in King Street. He also said that the bus lane in Heath Road will again be a continuous one once the guys with the paint get sent out! The whole debacle has been a council decision and if everyone had voted differently last week we might have seen the whole plan scrapped and all the roads dug up again and everything put back as was.

  5. pam - twickenham

    Laugh out loud, is it April Fools Day? I have just been reading the Twickenham ‘Rediscovered ‘Improvements’ update pushed through my door today…

    Sorry bus users, car drivers, cyclists and other road users, getting through Twickenham a main route to cross the river, is about to get a whole lot harder, removal of traffic lanes, removal of bus stops, where you can actually easily change bus, between the 11 routes that go through Twickenham. You will now need to get off a bus before the main traffic lights at cross Deep meets King Street, and go and wait for a bus in the queue of traffic on Cross Deep to go through the same lights. People waiting at new stop T on Heath Road, or at stop R on Cross Deep will not be able to take advantage of whatever bus comes first as they cannot see buses coming on the other roads as stops are round the corner out of eye sight! The existing bus stops are for ease of interchange which is why they are sited where they are. Whoever has redesigned this has obviously never been on any of the buses or used public transport.

    They obviously don’t drive through Twickenham either, reducing lanes and bus lanes on already heavily congested main roads ie outside Morrisons and on Cross Deep. But hey the pavements look so ‘lovely and wide’ great for pedestrians to walk along and inhale all the fumes from the queuing buses and traffic…
    Just look at the artist’s drawing on the front page of the glossy Twickenham Rediscovered brochure – 2 cars, half a van, wide pavements with 6 people pictured, some made up ideal by designers and planners, who do not live here and walk away to their next well paid job. It’s not a Twickenham I know, which is traffic congested 90% of the time and getting worse not better.. but ‘hey the pavements, so lovely – are they York stone?!’

    • Harlequin

      I think the problem has always been that Heath road is essentially two lanes wide, except at the Cross Deep junction where it widens to three lanes. Then everything gets funnelled along King street back into two lanes because of the bus lane. The road isn’t really wide enough to support two lanes and a bus lane. Hence the congestion. I think the idea is that if you continue with two lanes throughout then there’ll be less funnelling from three lanes into two.

    • david

      Lots of opportunity to ‘rat-run’ from Heath Road south down to Cross Deep when the traffic backs up, or when it backs up passed The Green even more opportunity to ‘rat-run’ through the ‘Cross Roads and down to Radnor Gardens.
      Don’t bother with the ‘rat-run’ north to Station Rd and The Albany …the lights onto the Railway bridge are only green long enough for you to ANGRY!!!!
      btw – check out Whitton’s pavements, nice…….

  6. Rufus McDufus

    Has there ever been an effective survey regarding where most of the traffic is actually going? It always strikes me that, apart from the dreadful school run time which seems largely caused by people not being able to take their kids to the nearest school, that Twickenham is merely a 3-way crossroads for people trying to go from elsewhere to elsewhere. There’s not a huge amount of employment in Twickenham and most people don’t stop off for a quick shop or bite to eat, in the week daytime at least. If only there was the option for some sort of bypass (or underpass, ha!), but perhaps we just have to resign ourselves and accept that this is the way Twickenham is and always will be (I suspect that will be the case sadly).

    • anonymouse

      You’re correct that Twickenham is just an extended crossroads/traffic jam for many motorists who are simply trying to pass through AQAP.

      As a result the Council are just rearranging the deckchairs on the titanic pavements!

  7. Jon Paul

    Twickenham really lost out when the Heathrow Air Link was cancelled. With that link – there would be huge demand for offices as most international companies want a European Office close to Heathrow.

    We would also have a lot less traffic on the roads and air pollution reduced. However, Richmond Council opposed it. Like it did for the Cross rail branch.

    Probably two projects that would added 10 – 20 % to house prices – which shows how favourable the buyers in general sees such projects.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-13042740

  8. Simon H

    I’m not sure whether the new layouts will benefit or hinder the town. But it’s been dying slowly as a shopping centre for years anyway, so they’ve got to try something.

    • bob

      yes it will be dead soon due to drop-in trade from people waiting for buses disappearing…. 😦

    • Adrian

      Simon it is interesting to read that, as a new resident in the area myself (although I’ve been visiting it regularly for the last couple of years). It doesn’t feel like a dying High St or area to me, it feels if maybe not thriving then ‘getting along quite well’: low number of vacant shop premises, lots of independent retailers, lots of good pubs which are generally quite busy, some good restaurants, residential streets that generally look in decent nick. Shame about the train station and the traffic, but the latter is a problem that plagues the whole of London, its surrounding areas, and half of the country. It’s the shame of modern Britain, our reliance on motorised vehicles, and the impact it and roadbuilding and widening have had on communities and the quality of life. Have you seen Putney High Street at rush hour? Or at any time for that matter? We will look back on this in a hundred years’ time with disbelief and slowly shaking heads.

    • Simon H

      Hi Adrian,
      Yes, I should say that high streets across Britain are dying and Twickenham is in better shape than most. But it does have way, way too many retail units and it’s a shame that some of these, rather than office buildings, aren’t being turned into housing.

  9. twickerman

    The only way to make Twickenham less traffic dominated is to direct traffic elsewhere. El Brute are not doing that.

    The Council’s highways plans are based on getting the existing traffic volumes through the town centre as quickly as possible.

    That’s why they’ve removed bus/cycle lanes, bus stops and right turns from King Street.

    They want traffic to move through Twickenham without stopping, with the inivitable consequence that motorists will shop, drink and dine elsewhere.

    Cyclists on the otherhand will avoid the town centre dual carriageways because they will be less safe than they are now.

    I suspect that Richmond and Teddington town centres will be the main beneficiaries of the TWAP.

    • Delayed of Twickenham

      Dear oh dear. Don’t let facts get in the way of your idiotic rant. Leaflet through the door this morning from LBRuT on the Twickenham improvement works:

      20mph limit throughout the town centre
      Installation of new cycle lanes and other features to help cyclists
      Contra flow cycling in Holly Road

      When have you ever been stuck in a traffic jam and thought, since I’m here I’ll do some shopping! Traffic needs to flow easily through the town centre for the precise reason that people will stop and shop, dine, drink because they can get in and out easily — unlike in Kingston and Richmond. If you direct traffic elsewhere, people won’t come into Twickenham!

    • twickerman

      I’ve seen the detailed highways plans and can confirm that the part time advisory cycle lanes along King Street are not fit for purpose.

      This is because they are simply dotted lines painted within the inside vehicle lane. Because the road will be narrowed so much, there isn’t space for a bike and a car. Cars will obviously take priority when the road is busy. Cyclists will be squeezed out.

      Richmond Cycling Campaign and Cllr Naylor take the same dim view of the Twickenham Highways plans as I do and have declared them unsafe.

      Its a great shame that the opportunity to make Twickenham town centre safer for cyclists has been overlooked.

      Please don’t be misled by Council propaganda about ASLs and bike parking. The roads need to be made safer to encourage people of all ages and abilities to cycle at any time of day.
      If the roads aren’t safe, people won’t cycle to work, school or the shops. They’ll go by car instead, adding to the current levels of congestion and pollution.

    • Harlequin

      Thank heavens we have an expert like you to tell is that the cycle lanes are not fit for purpose. Far as I can see there simply isn’t room for a cycle lane on the road at the junction of King Street into London Road unless you get rid of all of the pavement – it’s barely wide enough for vehicles,

    • bob

      Traffic needs to flow easily??? you need to get out on the road at 4pm to 5pm or so – it is faster to walk… it may be nice to shop, but WHERE do you put the car??

  10. David

    “What would help more than anything is if the 80% of the population that feels the need or desire to get in their bloody motor as a matter of course every single sodding day of their lives looked at themselves and had a major rethink”

    Amen to that, Adrian, but you miseed out “for even the shortest journey, despite them and their family being clinically obese”

    • James

      I’m glad I’m not alone in agreeing with that, but I can understand why so many people drive by default:
      Cost of two adults driving 1 mile to town centre, parking on the street for 30 mins then driving back: £1 (from AA cost of motoring)
      Cost of doing the same by bus: £5.80
      Why would people pay more for a less conveneint form of transport? And walking/ cycling are just unpleasant with all the noise, pollution, aggression, pavements smashed from being used as car parks, etc. etc. Result is people use 7-seater 1000 kilo vehicles to travel short distances at walking pace, and whinge about traffic, parking and fuel prices.

      What I don’t get is why governments (local, national, past and present) and the public in general are so unwilling to do anything about it. I guess it takes a bold politician to tell drivers that actually 5p per mile tax is too little for driving in a city. Increasing fares is much easier.

  11. Yvonne Hewett

    I’ve just discovered that the new regs say that planning applications for change of use have to be heard within 56 days of receipt, or consent is granted automatically. Iniquitous!

  12. Adrian

    PS. Re. Church St – is there any reason why it has to be open to traffic? Can it not be business / residential access only?
    And maybe, just maybe streets like Water Lane are where traffic should be restricted too? How about – bear with me, be hypothetical for a moment and ignore the ‘rights’ of the current residents – if the flats and houses had no designated parking rights, if the street had no parking and therefore targeted at people without cars. It would doubtless hit the house prices, but er, affordable housing anyone?

    • Anonymous

      Re: Church St: a simple way of reducing through traffic here would be to make it one-way from East to West. That would stop cars using as a short-cut to Church Lane/York House and there’d be little advantage for anyone using it as a rat-run East to West as they’d end up on the Embankment and Wharf Lane.

  13. Adrian

    I’ve been a bit sceptical about the narrowing of the road right before the lights outside M&S – it looks like it will squeeze buses, lorries, cars into two lanes and leave not very much room for cyclists – and slow down buses. That aside, RC professes to be trying to make the town centre less traffic dominated, and more ped / cyclist friendly, and that’s got to be laudable, even if the proof of the pudding … bla bla. I spoke to one of the planners there recently and he genuinely believed that once it’s all in place it will work, but I suppose he would … What would help more than anything is if the 80% of the population that feels the need or desire to get in their bloody motor as a matter of course every single sodding day of their lives looked at themselves and had a major rethink. On that subject, the last thing TW1 / 2 needs is more flats, more people, more cars…

  14. Purple Haze

    Did you know you can sing ‘New Pavements, New Flats and Twickenham TWAPs’ to Joni Mitchell’s ‘Big Yellow Taxi’?
    ‘They paved paradise and put a parking lot, with a pink hotel, a boutique, and a swinging hot spot…’
    Ironic really. 🙂

  15. bob

    the TWAP linked is lots of waffle, and no real details.. unless you fancy going through it page by page…
    more details on moved bus stops, removed bus lanes, etc here..
    http://www.richmond.gov.uk/principles_of_scheme_overview.pdf
    I predict a virtually empty high street, as people get their buses far away..
    looks like morrisons and waitrose will benefit though..

  16. anonymouse

    It’s not about the width, but what you do with it.
    Maybe sit and sip a skinny lattemoccacino and soak up the ElBrute/TFL super-throughway fumes.

  17. Con

    bridge house is being offered to charities for rent for free in the interim http://centricprojects.wix.com/centric#!charities/c24vq

  18. Rufus McDufus

    As Twickenham becomes more and more of a ‘dormitory’ town there’ll be even more traffic as more people have to go elsewhere to work and shop.

  19. Yvonne Hewett

    In addition to losing office space for many small businesses, craftspeople, and charities, there’s another downside to all of this. Landlords who get permission for conversions don’t have to make payments towards all the services: health, education, policing, garbage etc, that are standard in normal planning applications. They’re getting a really good deal, and guess who pays? The rest of us!

  20. Robyn

    We’ll be losing many local businesses & employment for our community with that amount of ‘change of use’ applications. And yes…it is going to possibly affect my employment 😦

    • Mumto1plus2

      I’m not sure how we’re ‘losing’ anything with Bridge House and Queens House being turned into flats. No businesses want these offices so rather flats than nothing. Perhaps the council should look at ways to attract businesses to Twickenham? Clearly they’re not doing a very good job right now. However, I am still concerned that we’re planning to house more people without actually providing the facilities they will need – GPs, schools, etc. There I go again like a broken record…

  21. Anonymous

    Losing office space may not be ideal but more people moving in to the new apartments means more customers for the businesses already there, so I guess it’s not all bad?