Richmond Council approves. Prince Charles would surely approve. But do you approve? You can have your say with El Brute and also vote in our poll below. The Council’s deadline for comments is Friday 16th December.

Revised design ideas for Twickenham Riverside have been published under El Brute’s Twickenham Rediscovered / ‘New heart for Twickenham’ banner. The proposals come from architect Francis Terry, El Brute’s chosen one for this particular project.

In the latest briefing note Pamela Fleming, Council Cabinet Member for Environment and the driving force behind the project says: “These concepts are not the final designs… but I hope that people will approach this consultation objectively and work with us constructively on developing a scheme so that the riverside is a place everyone can enjoy for many years to come”. In other words, “We’ve set the parameters and you can have your say within those parameters. We’ve left some things vague too but get with the programme.”

Twickenham riverside site from Embankment
Twickenham riverside site from Embankment

The document makes a big play of all the consultations undertaken so far and summarises the themes that have emerged en route… with a few notable exceptions, of course. There is no mention of just how much the majority of people seriously disliked the scale and style of the original concept or that many would like to see the whole thing re-started with a fresh brief and a transparent process. There is no mention either of the lido scheme which also has a lot of local support.  Putting those rather fundamental points to one side, El Brute do acknowledge locals’ other concerns such as the desire for the development to have some kind of town square, to have options to bring the community together and to have relevance to Twickenham’s riverside heritage. To try to address these points Terry’s ideas do have a more of a market town or ‘village’ feel to them.

So what do we have now? Well… there are three proposals.
One of them (Option 3) is essentially a re-worked version of the idea first given an airing back in 2015. Given how unpopular that scheme was, this option can be put to one side. Imagine it as a party leadership bid by Andrea Leadsom for the Conservatives or, for Labour, that Owen bloke that no one had even heard of before he decided to stand.  Never. Going. To. Happen.

Extract of design from LBRuT website
Extract of original design from LBRuT website

That leaves two options both of which move away from the dream of building a new Roman republic in Twickenham and look to the not-quite-so-distant past for inspiration. Think Bekonscot model village in Buckinghamshire or Poundbury in Dorset, the life-size model village that doubles as a suburb of Dorchester. Yep, it’s more Twee-kenham than Twickenham although Poundbury-upon-Thames does have a certain ring to it, doesn’t it?  In your face Richmond!!!

Possible Twickenham Embankment design From LBRuT website
Possible Twickenham Embankment design
From LBRuT website,

Option 1 consists of two large buildings, one of which starts at the King Street end of the site and runs down the length of Water Lane with the second building running along Embankment with a raised river terrace in front. A small ‘town square’ would feature at the top of Water Lane and a raised pedestrian walkway would run from there down towards the river. The terrace area is where events could take place.  The arches under the terrace could be used for storage or for cycle or boat hire. In terms of style, think Richmond Riverside and you’ve pretty much got it.

Possible King Street design - From LBRuT website
Possible King Street design – From LBRuT website

Option 2 is very similar but consists of four buildings rather than the two in Option 1. The King Street facade looks much the same with the main difference being toward the river where there would be three buildings rather than one. The need for space between the buildings means that in this option the buildings sit closer to the river than in Option 1. Total build size is greater than in Option 1.

Town square site, Water Lane
Town square site, Water Lane

In all cases, building use is left rather vague:  it could be this, it could be that, it could be something else. If you were the architect you’d probably do the same and leave that thorny issue to Council types. Parking on the Embankment is left largely in tact, allowing stationary motor vehicles to retain the best river views although El Brute do say that more creative options are being explored, such as underground parking. And on the even more divisive question of having residential development on the site, the document says, “A significant part of the upper floors of the buildings, in all options, will be residential flats, predominantly for private sale. Although a proportion will be Affordable Housing.” Vague is the new clear. This is beginning to make Brexit look simple.

Design proposal 2 - From LBRuT website
Option 2 – From LBRuT website

Under the various options the Diamond Jubilee Gardens are left alone despite a widely held view that looking at this large riverside site as a whole would be a sensible approach. There would be difficulties to overcome posed by the terms under which the Twickenham Riverside Trust look after the site, but are they really insurmountable?  Dunno.

As ever, there are still things to be worked through but El Brute are now seeking your views on the proposals and asking you which of the three you prefer.  They say your comments will help ‘inform’ the next stage in the process, this being to refine the preferred scheme and do the technical work to take it towards planning. A further consultation will be scheduled before a formal planning application is submitted.

With Option 3 surely a non-runner, it looks as if Twickenham locals are being asked to make a choice between two very similar things. Forget Fifty Shades of Grey, this is Two Shades of Terry. Choice?  Nah, no thank you!

You can give feedback on the proposals up until the 16th December either online or in the pop up shop in Church Street which will be open on the following days:
– Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 11.00am to 4.00pm
– Thursday from 11.00am to 7.00pm
– Saturday from 11.00am to 5.00pm
It will also be open on Sunday 27th November from 12.00 to 6.00pm during the Twickenham ‘Christmas lights’ event.

Make sure you have your say with El Brute but you can also vote in our own poll here.


Options 1 and 2 Space Usage Comparison

New build in pink, open space added in yellow (by Twickerman)



* Richmond Council – Twickenham Rediscovered main page  –  The Council’s deadline for comments is Friday 16th December.
* El Brute PDF of the proposals
* Richmond Council’s original proposals
* Riverside Action Group – calling for a fresh start
* Twickenham lido plan – calling for a lido

Artists impression of a new Twickenham Riverside from Eel Pie Island. Or is it Bekonscot model village?
Bekonscot 01