Residents’ Riverside Draft Revealed

The 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death seems like an apposite time for an update on the Twickenham Riverside development. Why? Well, we’ve got comedy, tragedy, a cast of memorable characters, history repeating itself and bitter power struggles. Add to that the option for referencing this saga to the titles of Shakespeare’s plays (e.g. The Comedy of Errors or As True Likes It,  etc, etc, add your own versions at the end) and then top it off with the possibility that we might get an amphitheatre on which we’ll be able to see it all acted out one day. Bostin’ as they say in the Midlands although whether they say it as far south as Stratford-upon-Avon is a mystery (to us).

You’ll recall that after having listened to local residents across several consultations over several years, the Council went away, did some mulling and cogitating, worked with big name architects Q&F Terry and then unveiled designs for the riverside which nobody particularly seemed to like. Oh dear. LBRuT (pron: El Brute) then announced that it would work on revisions which would take account of residents’ feedback and, possibly, just possibly, make the scheme do the things that it was originally supposed to do, namely create a useful town square and open up central Twickenham to the river.

Twickenham riverside site from Embankment

Twickenham riverside site from Embankment

Not convinced that this would produce the desired result, the Riverside Action Group was created to try to get the whole consultation re-started in a way that would consider all proposals for the site in a more open way and end up with a plan which better reflected the wishes of locals. After a couple of public meetings designed to capture feedback from residents and traders, RAG has now produced a Residents’ Brief going by the title of ‘The Voice of Twickenham’. Grand indeed. The draft summarises the views of those who engaged with the process. If you were one of them, great. If you weren’t, c’mon, now’s your chance! It’s open for feedback until 7th May and after that the intention is that a final version will inform a future ‘Competition Brief’ for the site. In other words, RAG hopes this will provide a framework for evaluating various proposals and not just LBRuT’s preferred option.

What’s in it then? Its four ‘guiding principles’ are that there should be a town square at the heart of the plan which links King Street to the river, that the whole site from Water Lane to Wharf Lane should be considered in its entirety (in other words, chuck the Diamond Jubilee Gardens into the mix – a sensible idea, eh?), prioritise recreational space bordered by buildings as opposed to having a buildings-led design, and include space for public enjoyment. There’s a lot in there about open space and drawing on Twickenham’s riverside heritage, especially with regard to Eel Pie Island opposite. And there’s stuff in there too about hot topics such as parking and, of course, flats (‘preferably not’, you’ll be unsurprised to read). It also contains points about trying to make the site attractive to residents from across the borough so that it’s not just a ‘Twickenham thing’. Tell you what, why not read it for yourself, it’s not a bloody crime.

Twickenham Embankment from Eel Pie Bridge

Twickenham Embankment from Eel Pie Bridge

All good stuff you might think but will El Brute listen, especially as they’re busy working on their own revisions to the Terry plan for publication and further consultation in the summer. It will depend on many things including whether Twickenham can get behind some key principles and push them forward with positivity. Residents have already said ‘don’t like that’ to the Council’s grand vision, but can they galvanise a critical mass of support to say, ‘hey, but we do want this’?

So, press on with a revised Terry plan or start again with a brief led by local views?  It’s your town, you decide!

 

 

 

LINKS:

* LBRuT – Twickenham Rediscovered – Revised Council-led designs due in the summer
* Riverside Action Group – Residents’ Brief (feedback requested by 7th May)

61 Comments

Filed under Council, Twickenham Action Plan

61 responses to “Residents’ Riverside Draft Revealed

  1. RTT Online has: New Twickenham Riverside consultation labelled ‘smoke and mirrors’ by campaigners
    http://www.richmondandtwickenhamtimes.co.uk/news/14541698.New_Twickenham_Riverside_consultation_labelled__smoke_and_mirrors__by_campaigners/?ref=eb

    . . The new consultation with the updated designs will begin in a pop-up shop on July 19 . .

  2. An update:
    It is with great regret that we announce that the Richmond and Twickenham Times decided to overlook an open letter signed by over 125 Borough residents. We hope the decision will be reversed in time for next weekend’s newspaper since RAG believes the local paper would wish to reflect the views on this important issue of all residents.
    For this reason we are holding back from placing it on this website. Naturally the situation will be reviewed.
    RAG will be providing a full update on the subject within the next day or so.

    • It is a long letter. You don’t say when you sent it. Perhaps they decided it would keep until next week – as it will – and to go with the the pages they had already laid out. A reasonable decision from their point of view – they are a very small team with too much to do and print deadlines to meet.

    • You may think so, we will comment later.

  3. The May 27 print RTT has two letters (p 17): ‘Give us an art gallery’ from Geoff Stone and one from Mrs Barrett of Poulett Gardens re Cllr Samuel.

  4. queby

    When are the next council elections?

    • anonymouse

      Seems a bit rich of RAG’s smburningham to complain of RTT silence on protest press releases and photos, especially as RAG’s own website contains no such info. Their latest news is a Lord True speech in 2009 and their last meeting appears to have been in March. Just like Francis Terry’s awful design they need to move on from ancient history!

    • Good point mousey – we’ll get our press releases up. We’ve been a bit busy collecting petition signatures – must learn to multi-task.

    • Cathy, can we get our press releases onto our website – I think he / she has a point.

      S

  5. Why has the Richmond and Twickenham Times failed to respond to RAGs press releases or print photographs of protest meetings? Is the paper’s silence a clamp down on public opinion? What do you think?

    • Sally

      Regarding the council,I think the RTT pieces often fall into two camps:
      1.Puff pieces. “Councilor Bloggs announces wonderful so and so which will meet a crying need/be just what residents wanted/put this dump on the map as thousands flock to admire it. Well done the noble people involved with making this happen, especially me” (Flattering photo )
      2. Response to protest . There might be a crummy photo of whichever residents were off work and able to make it to a photo call. (Unlike Bloggs, residents have no municipal financial resources) A couple of scrappy protestor quotes.
      There will also be a full quote from Bloggs dismissing the protestors as a minority/mad/wilfully blind/ actually in favour ,and restating 1.

      So at the York House protest there were young people there. Councillor Samuels was nose to nose with them.It was a difficult time for a protest as anybody at work would still be in transit. RTT photos,didn’t seem to reflect that.
      I would love anybody in the RTT to ask a Councilor a follow up question. It doesn’t have to be Paxman. Just asking the Bloggs’ of the world how they respond to the accusation of ABC or why they are pressing on with XYZ despite the vast majority of their residents apparently loathing it?

    • Perhaps you should suggest the idea.

    • I think a combination of several factors is reason enough:

      1: This story is six months old so the news value of yet another protest is low. If a group of residents suddenly started to support the Terry scheme, that WOULD be news.
      2: Most residents of the borough don’t live nearby and are not much interested to begin with. Sad but true.
      3: Space is tight: only 6 1/2 pages of news in the current issue to be shared out between 190,000 residents in 18 wards. Online is another story: the protests have been well reported, most recently at: http://www.richmondandtwickenhamtimes.co.uk/news/14504439.Council_deputy_leader_asked_to_apologise_for_allegedly_calling_riverside_protesters__geriatric_/
      4: Residents have been given ample space in the letters pages to express their views, even though they now amount to repetition of what’s been said several times already; no need therefore to say it again as a print news item.

      So you should keep plugging away without being disheartened by their apparent indifference; you should publish the press releases on your website and email your supporters to tell them what’s new.

    • Thanks Chris. Useful.

  6. Yesterday’s print RTT carries a short report on Tuesday‘s RAG demo on p 3 – ’Age row’ – but no picture. It states that RAG have put together a ‘brief response’ to the Terry plan.

    In fact it’s just under 2,000 words and may be found at http://www.riversideactiongroup.uk/residents-brief/; do also have a look at the attractive poster artwork at http://www.riversideactiongroup.uk/#welcome

    http://edition.pagesuite-professional.co.uk//launch.aspx?eid=75842562-843a-4eb2-ade5-eda9484b9bd2

    • The print RTT also has a letter, from Deon Lombard RIBA, ‘We can’t be ignored’, with a link to the ‘Twickenham Community Brief’ Sadly, ignoration seems to be their settled policy for now.

  7. twickerman

    Susan,
    I’m interested to know if the council Purchase Orders to Francis Terry for Riverside scheme ‘adjustments’ are part of the £100,000 competiton prize money or additional to it?
    Do you know if the £100,000 has already been paid?

  8. An update from yesterday evening’s protest outside of York House. Thanks to all who took time in their busy week to show up and also thanks to all the officials at York House who were kind and courteous.

    Dr Mathias spoke with us and said she understands the reasons for our protests. She agreed that the community has to feel they have ‘ownership’ of the site. She has agreed to meet representatives from RAG. We gave her a copy of the Twickenham Residents’ Brief.
    Whether you agree with her choice of political party or not, she was reasonable and obviously takes seriously the duty of representing her constituents’ views. We wait to discover if the Twickenham Riverside councillors are equally as responsive and able to shake off the shackles of the party – indeed perhaps other Twickenham councillors need to consider their duty of representation over Party.

    The absence of Lord True wasn’t surprising – probably working on his speech to Council, which is fair enough. Anyway he made his thoughts known in 2009 when he gave a speech supporting residents’ entitlement to have a say in their riverside. A pity Cllr. Fleming hasn’t taken notice of what her Leader promised then. The True speech is available in its entirety on RAG’s website http://www.riversideactiongroup.uk

    Interesting that the Deputy Leader, Geoffrey Samuel is reported to have referred to the protesters outside of York House as a ‘bunch of geriatrics’. All I can say to that ill-thought out remark is it takes one to know one.

    The protest went well and we should all be pleased that the Riverside Action Group and the Twickenham Riverside Village group are united in opposing the Francis Terry mausoleum. To quote Lord True in 2009 “when more than 2000 people bother to sign petitions it behoves the politicians to take notice”. United we number considerably more than twice 2000.

    • RTT Online has: Council deputy leader Geoffrey Samuel asked to apologise for allegedly calling riverside protesters ‘geriatric’
      http://www.richmondandtwickenhamtimes.co.uk/news/14504439.Council_deputy_leader_asked_to_apologise_for_allegedly_calling_riverside_protesters__geriatric_/

    • Sally

      The thing is ,there were some teenage protestors there ,and younger kids too. And Councillor Samuels certainly did see and hear them.

    • Perhaps Cllr Samuel is sans eyes, sans ears, sans everything.

    • According to Cllr Fleming Francis Terry’s company received only £5k in prize money when it won the competition for its riverside design/concept. This figure was provided to Council in answer to a question by Teresa Read.
      In answer to one of my recent FoI questions the Council’s lawyer writes there is no written contract with Terry. We must not forget that in law a verbal contract is binding. In spite of public opinion therefore the Council persists with its partnership with Terry who has been busy amending the design. Payment for this additional work, I am told via the FoI response, has been dealt with through purchase orders. I have asked how many POs and how much has been paid since December 2015 but await a reply. There is no illegality in using POs or working via a verbal agreement.
      All this activity does emphasise the point that the Council is ignoring public opinion. Cllr Fleming claims to be listening to public opinion but she has apparently not heard the message that the community rejects the Terry design.
      If Council really takes people seriously it will understand it has to look at the detail in the Community Brief: it has to start again.

    • twickenhamalive

      You can view council payments on their website here http://www.richmond.gov.uk/council_payments_to_suppliers

      A quick look shows payments to QT of Oct 15 £7,506.50, Sep 15 £7,666.27, Feb 16 £7,648.94, Feb 16 £8,063.87 … Total £30,885.58

  9. JA

    Saying there should be no housing is a total non starter. Housing will be necessary to make this cost-in, trying to say otherwise is just pointless. It’s also pretty bizarre to see these people writing the “residents” plan only want pensioners or social housing if flats are necessary, why? There is a massive crisis for the younger generation trying to find a place to live, not those already sitting in properties that have tripled in value. As for so-called social housing, have they ever looked into who gets put into these social flats? Complete madness. I don’t see what’s wrong with looking like Richmond anyway! Most people are only here because we can’t afford to live there but want to be near it, if we’re totally honest..

    • You may wish to read the revised brief based on comments received. It takes your first point on board. As for wishing to be like Richmond, over 2000 local residents so far appear to disagree with that sentiment, quite apart from the design being lazy, over-bearing and based on no financial viability studies of retail demand. Indeed, economists have said that retail will slow, so what we need is a means of attracting visitors so our existing traders can thrive.

    • Sally

      Well, the land was purchased with our money under the promise that it would be a town square. Not housing, whether for the rich or poor, social or luxury. We do have a need for both standard and social housing here, everybody does, but that was not the point of the purchase. If I said I would put a tree in front of your house and then built a 4 storey skip, would you be content if I said but the skip made money ?
      Councillor Fleming and friends are now waving plans of a block of flats saying the site must “pay its way” This is a very old trick and much used. It’s a good way to sell off attractive public land under the public’s nose. Twickenham , which you don’t seem too keen on is forever under attack in this way. Richmond less so. Can you think of any recent scheme to build a development on Richmond riverside land? Neither can I.

    • Cllr. Fleming is not waving any plans Sally; oh that she were, we would know what’s being suggested. We have been told Cllr Fleming is taking advice from the community, although who in the community is being asked we know not.
      One certainty is that an adjusted Francis Terry design will be put out for consultation in July. It is implicit in Cllr. Samuel’s recent remarks in the R.&T.T. that the Terry design is the only one being considered. I also know from a recent FoI reply that the Council has been paying for F.T.’s adjustments on the original plan via purchase orders; incremental dips into the public purse. How many P.O.’s and at what cost to the taxpayer have yet to be revealed.
      RAG continues to hope that good sense will prevail and that the overwhelming wishes of the Community will be heard. You’ll have noticed I hope that RAG is very happy to work with the Twickenham Riverside Village group which is equally opposed to the Francis Terry scheme.
      Cllr. Fleming claims she is listening – sadly the message that we don’t want the FT mausoleum has not penetrated beyond her headband. When I say ‘we’ I mean several thousand people who have signed our petitions.

    • queby

      Well said.

  10. Riversidevoter

    So now we have a new mayor, and one who is going to make the blue baron see red, he will doubtless start to play the “if we don’t build it, the red devil will come along and build something bigger and less aesthetically pleasing (grandiosely and inappropriately classical) and (worst of all) filled with poor people (who won’t vote Conservative) ” card . I think we should all write to the new mayor to try and get him onside and hopefully give us a counter argument?

    • well lets hope it was better than boris, who only sent a ‘rep’ to look at the station development.. waste of time…

    • Ex-Twickenham Resident

      I think we overestimate the powers of the mayor. A few cycle tracks and some rent a bikes coupled with shaking hands with foreign dignitaries seems the extent of the mayororial duties.

      I would be pleased to know if the good people of this website could tell me what the mayor has done for them. I would happily stand corrected.

  11. illiad1

    any plans /pictures to clarify what we are talking about?? Too much/ vague info here, a link or pic would be good… 🙂

  12. An update: Members of RAG have been attempting a conciliatory approach with Lord True in order to discuss the ideas we have received from the general public and to present an outline that that would not merely regenerate the riverside and but bring long term economic benefit to the wider community. In spite of being offered meetings with Cllr Fleming and various other subordinate Ward Councillors, Lord True has so far refused to meet us. He has apparently handed the entire decision making process to Cllr Fleming who is wed to the Terry Partnership architecture. It is a sad state of affairs when the leader of any group refuses to take ultimate responsibility. He has stated that the ‘consultation’ process continues.
    Do please let us know how and when the Council has consulted with you about your ideas to changes to the Quinlan Terry ‘concept’, ‘design’, ‘outline’.
    Our website is as ever: http://www.riversideactiongroup.uk

    • Sally

      Ah. And here we have the problem. One strategy is to try to work with the Council, or rather, Councillor Fleming who is fanatically devoted to building the Terry edifice . This has the advantage of the council being able to save face in defeat and claim that whatever we end up with IS the Terry design, “with a few tweaks.” On past form Councillor Fleming will maintain to the gates of Hell and in the face of all evidence that the design she loves is the right one.
      The problem is that what is proposed is so utterly preposterous it would take a million tweaks to change it into anything that was wanted.
      We do know a bit about what residents wanted.
      We know that residents wanted a town square ,and a lido might also have found favour have although we weren’t allowed to comment. Housing, was not mentioned.
      This is like asking for a banana ,being given a lump of granite, and being told that the granite stays -but it can be altered ! To consult the proposed vast lump into an open square would take a hell of a lot of consulting and we would risk ending up with bits of the Terry design stil scattered around.
      Councillor Fleming and Lord True are not interested in rejecting the Terry design. They have accepted it, they want it and they intend to build it. I really don!t know how much conciliation is possible with that as their starting point.

    • Sally – you are so right in many things. We thought it incumbent on us to try the reasonable approach and it’s right that people should know what we are doing – or trying to do. It’s not in RAGs’ remit to bring down this council or anyone in it; that’s really not our business.
      The point is to get this design, plan or whatever it’s called off the table so residents can have a real say in their riverside.
      Don’t worry, we stick with our line that the Council must start the process again in a clear and unambiguous fashion. That’s all.

  13. George

    In response to twickcat who says “And what they do and don’t want on this site is crystal clear”. Is it? It is clear that people do not want the Terry plan but what do they want? Lots want a lido but lots do not. Lots want to get rid of parking by the river but quite a few want to keep it. Lots of people want to not have any residential at all but this seems to be based on a principle rather than finding ways that might be practical to make it work. The recent R&TT poll on different designs showed a split result which would suit the Council. I say this as someone who wants the Twick Action Group to succeed. Good luck.
    G

    • Sorry George. I was probably being a bit simplistic. I meant that people don’t want a huge block of flats and shops in a mock regency style. And that people would like the space to make the most of the riverside to attract locals and visitors. Agreed, there are a lot of options up for discussion!

  14. No parking on the riverside

  15. twickerman

    twickcat,

    Surely El Brute didn’t make up the riverside brief without reference to the consultations they did many, many years ago.

    Didn’t we all vote for an amphitheatre, roman columns, an old fashioned arcade, council front of house offices, 40 flats, gross overdevelopment and virtually no open space?

    Well what do you know, maybe they did, and maybe we didn’t. But of course they know best, don’t they?

  16. With regard to the whole site solution this was promised by Lord True when he spoke to a public meeting in 2009.There is a YouTube video of his speech: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zAxez98Z6Jg&sns=fb in which the then Cllr. True stands in front of a banner bearing the results of a community referendum on the Lib Dem riverside proposal: the banner reads: No 93.5%, Yes 6.5%. Cllr. True begins his speech with the laudable words “Politicians must listen to the people”, “they must bring people together”; the issue of the Riverside he says “is bigger than normal issues”, “it reflects what sort of community we all want”. Most interesting for RAG is Cllr. True’s promise that he would develop a “Trust for Twickenham to do the whole Riverside”, a Trust that would govern the finance and development of the entire space – where the Community can instruct Officers. “The land” he says, “would then be vested in the people in perpetuity”. In the video he rejects all luxury housing (not only gated), retail outlets and offices: “I have said no to all that” we are told.

    Once again RAG finds itself in total agreement with Cllr True – a whole site solution is what we seek that is vested in the people in perpetuity.

    Please continue to feed into our community brief – we’ve called it the Voice of Twickenham, but if in adding constructive comments you can think of a better title, then let’s hear it, we’re not clinging to our own ‘concepts’ – and please ask the kids what they think. It’s a riverside for all. To continue the Shakespeare association, it is “not of an age, but for all time”.

  17. Twicktormeldrew

    I saw a very good concept that El Brute rejected – and was swiftly removed from YouTube after I tweeted a link. Maybe some of those failed bids should be put before the Twickerati properly, in an open forum.