Last week El Brute published the feedback from its most recent exercise to listen to residents’ views on its ideas for Twickenham Riverside. After getting roundly lambasted, damned, slated and panned after their initial publication, Richmond Council had another go at doing some listening to the locals (by which we mean trying to find support for continuing with their preferred course of action).
What do we know so far? The Council’s chosen firm of architects was Q&F Terry. Now that young Francis has separated from his father’s firm, the Council’s preferred architect is Master F Terry. Same but different? Dunno. What we do know is that just about everybody in Twickenham wants to see better use of the riverside site and that very few liked the original Terry design proposals – ill-suited architecture, too much residential development, large scale, no clear town square, too much parking by the river (or perhaps not enough depending on your point of view and where you live) were just some of the complaints. Cue more Council ‘listening’ but not much sign of any intention to go back to the drawing board for a wider ‘taking stock’.
And the new feedback publication says what? Well, it shows that everyone has a different view, of course! Will this be used to ‘prove’ that the original design was right all along and that a little bit of tinkering around the edges is all that is needed? Maybe. There’s certainly not much in the document about the commonly held view that the original Terry concepts missed the mark on many levels. There was feedback in favour of a lido but then again there was lots of feedback on lots of things, including better joining up the site with the Diamond Jubilee Gardens. Good point dat. It’s got to be about the whole riverside.
One key phrase that recurs in the summary is “mixed opinions on” but some themes do emerge: the riverside as the focus for community activities, leisure and the elusive town square. Commercial development at that end of the site to be limited to that which supports these aspects such as cafes and maybe a restaurant or two. Any retail focus would be more likely to be at the King Street end of the site. Parking remains as divisive as ever. And what’s missing? Barely a mention of plans for residential development on the site. Barely a mention of the ‘traditional’ architectural style that El Brute seem keep to proceed with although there is feedback on some design aspects: a preference for having several buildings rather than one; Twickenham already having a ‘mish mash’ of existing styles and a rather odd reference to “modern” local buildings that people like “such as Regal House”. The subtext? Be careful what you wish for, maybe?
What next? The Council tells us that all of this feedback is being used to further shape the brief for the architects with revised “concept proposals” to be presented for further consultation towards the end of this month or the beginning of November.
Will El Brute reject its own Romano-regency plan? Can Terry turn it round for Twickenham? Are you bracing yourself for the next installment? All will be revealed in the next few weeks. Probably.