Another season, another Twickenham riverside consultation. Running from June until 11th July you have a chance to give some more feedback on El Brute’s grand plan for Twickenham Riverside. You remember! It’s the one that architect Francis Terry has come up with. So much for all this talk about Labour or the Tories or the DUP or whoever returning Britain to the 1970s, this is the plan that takes plucky Twickenham back to the 70s… the 1770s, except that Twickenham wasn’t like this back then.
In the latest consultation document, Councillor Pamela Fleming said “In thirty-five years there has not been consensus on the best way of improving this beautiful stretch of the riverside, but at last we seem to be moving in the right direction. This has only been achieved by working together and recognising how passionate people are about the area. I hope we can continue this partnership and that together we can create a scheme that will enhance Twickenham and be enjoyed for years to come”. Quite. There has been some progress brought about by those passionate Twickenham residents but LBRuT needs to keep listening and act on what it hears.
Yes we all want to see the site improved and LBRuT are billing this project as ‘New Heart for Twickenham’ which all sounds jolly good. Terry’s retro-designs remain and it’s clear that LBRuT have no intention of changing that. He won a ‘competition’, innit? Everyone has a different view of what should be done in terms of the remit and scale of the development but certain themes are common such as a proper town square or community area, limiting the extent of the commercialisation of the site in terms of flats, the need to better connect King Street to the river and finding a better solution to using prime river frontage as a car park.
It’s no wonder many were disappointed that the proposals have always struggled to fully reflect these points. An impossible task? Perhaps, but some of the changes that have been made do take some account of concerns. The height of the building on King Street has been scaled back and it’s also been pulled back from the edge of Water Lane (a little) although doesn’t create much new space. The “two big blocks” solution seems to be the preferred route, with retail use on the ground floor and residential above. Some tweaks have been made to the riverside terrace too although the ‘before and after’ images in the latest document are quite selective. The raised riverside terrace has an option for ‘boathouse’ type arches underneath. It’s still all very Richmond but that’s not going to change. You’ll either like that or you won’t On the whole the design has softened a fair bit from the very original “Rome in a day” colosseum idea that Q&F Terry put forward.
On parking, the document says of previous feedback, “A number of respondents highlighted the need to retain parking on the Embankment, the existing pressure on this parking and the necessity of any additional parking demand generated by the development being adequately catered for”. In other words, more parking not less. Parking for the new development will be underneath a podium and more residents only bays will be installed. In other words, no creative solution has yet been found to address the issue and significant parking remains on the river frontage. Yes, Eel Pie Island residents’ views do need to be factored into the designs but is ‘no change’ the best that we can do? Surely not.
As @twickerman railed on Twitter, “Thanks for not spoiling these car park views! Who wants and visionary pedestrianised Twickenham Riverside park anyway”. Ouch!
You can see what he means…
El Brute says that feedback from this consultation will be used in the final proposal for the site. There will then be a further consultation before something gets submitted to planning later in 2017.
Heading in the right direction? You decide. And remember to have your say here and with the Council too.
We ran a quick parking poll on Twitter and the result is clear cut. Would you have voted the same way?
LINKS & INFO:
* LBRuT Twickenham Rediscovered
The drop-in exhibitions are being held on the following dates at Clarendon Hall, York House:
Sun 18th June, 11am to 3pm
Mon 19th June, 5 to 8pm (parking consultants to attend)
Thur 29th June, 5 to 8pm (landscaping consultants to attend)
Thur 6th July, 5 to 8pm
Sat 8th July, 10am to 5pm