The idea to build a boathouse and dock for royal barge Gloriana at Orleans Gardens in Twickenham has been shelved by Richmond Council. In a press release on Friday 12th, El Brute said that although the results had not been fully analysed, “It is clear a substantial majority of respondents were opposed to Gloriana’s permanent home at this site. It has therefore been agreed between the Council and the Gloriana trustees not to proceed any further with this project”.
Here at twickerati we regard this as the right decision although it did take El Brute rather a long time to get there. Nice boat, sure, but Orleans Gardens was not an appropriate location for such a large construction. There was a very active and vocal campaign against the proposal led by the team at Save Orleans Riverside. As part of their work they secured 4,500 signatures for their petition opposing the plan and, as you know, our own poll (with over 1,600 votes cast) showed over 70% against with just 13% in favour. It seems that the Council did listen to the people, eventually. It will be interesting to see whether now, after their long silence, Twickenham’s Councillors will be willing to voice their own opinions on the matter.
Lord True, who had championed the scheme from day 1, in fact from about two years before day 1 as it turned out, said, “Gloriana deserves to – and I am sure will – find a home where she is welcome and can be cherished for what she is, a working vessel serving charitable causes, a triumph of Borough craftsmanship, a future part of our national heritage and a tangible monument in centuries to come to the Diamond Jubilee of a great Queen. We wish her well”. Indeed. And many who opposed the plans to build at Orleans Gardens would agree… although most would probably not use all of those words.
So there we have it. Gloriana will be housed elsewhere, Orleans Gardens will not be built on, and we will all still get to see her pottering up and down the river doing whatever she does.
A victory for people power and common sense? Or a case of nimbys scuttling Lords True and Sterling’s grand and wonderful vision? Or indeed both? Have your say.
* There was a good turn out of the delighted ‘no thanks’ brigade at Orleans Gardens on Saturday morning and Twickenham MP Vince Cable even put in an appearance. He told this site that the decision was “a victory for common sense” and paid tribute to the work of the “passionate and well organised local opposition campaign”.
* Kingston has now expressed an interest in providing a home for Gloriana. With Brentford still in the running it will be interesting to see what the final plan looks like and how it compares to the Lords’ original scheme.
* The results of the consultation are now on the El Brute website. To sum it up in just two words: oh dear. There were over 3,000 responses to the consultation, most of them made to the online survey. 93% of the responses were from local residents, as opposed to non-locals or interest groups. A large minority of respondents felt that it was important for Gloriana to have a proper home somewhere but a whopping 76% felt that Orleans Gardens was not an appropriate location. Sounds very much like our poll doesn’t it? That being the poll that we put online at no cost to your good selves. Anyway… when given the opportunity to add comments rather than just click on the survey options, 43% of those who added comments objected to the location with 24% opposing other aspects of the site layout and design. The report gives a selection of comments which capture the essence of the objections – location, impact on traffic, impact on the environment, inappropriate use of public money, the need to protect open spaces, etc. It does also includes a smattering of examples of the positive responses but it’s very clear from a skim through that a great many local people were opposed to the plan to build at Orleans Gardens. I think we knew that didn’t we? And what of the silent majority that certain Councillors had implied was out there? Well they obviously chose to remain silent, or maybe they simply didn’t exist at all.