El Brute’s “New Heart for Twickenham” project continues to generate plenty of debate. Not all of it supportive. The designs, the “up to 40” flats, the changes in the scheme, the sheer scale of it, the choice of architect, the disappearing town square (where did it go?). We could go on. We often do. But since our last item on the Great Twickenham Riverside Debate the question of car parking has perhaps been the one that has generated the most agitation. Just bloody well check the hashtag #twickenhamriverside on Twitter if you don’t believe us! See! It’s a veritable ‘park not car park’ thing. The deadline for comments on the latest designs is midnight on 11th July. If you’ve not yet had your say, do it now!
It’s hard to accept that the current arrangement of having Twickenham Embankment as a giant car park is the best use of this prime riverside space. Yes we 100% agree that Eel Pie Islanders and other locals need somewhere to park but can it really be the case that what we have now represents the very best solution to this conundrum? It’s a large site and a bit of creativity from those more expert than us ought to be able to work something out. Let’s get the experts in! Use the service road, use parking spaces under the new build, redevelop the whole site with undergound parking? Why not? Richmond has a car free riverside. Why can’t Twickenham? (Still needs space for a certain ice cream van, obvs.)
What we have at the moment is a tale of two towns but it’s not impossible for Twickenham to have a riverside park instead of a riverside car park. Even the Terry’s original ideas for the riverside featuring the giant “Rome in a day” amphitheatre thing had a car-free riverfront. Nice one Tezza. Or should that be Tezzas?
In fact, early comms from Richmond Council on the subject recognised the ambition for moving cars away from the river frontage. But they’ve crept back in. The current designs effectively leave things as they are whilst adding further spaces under the podium for residents of the new building. Hmm.
RAG, the Riverside Action Group, has done some great work highlighting issues with the designs and campaigning for a better scheme. However, even RAG is now advising respondents to the latest LBRuT survey to say they ‘agree’ on Question 4 about the parking proposals. On this point we disagree. Here are twickerati we want to see a creative solution that works for all. Better still we’d like the plan to be a ‘whole site solution’ incorporating the Diamond Jubilee Gardens, Water Lane, Wharf Lane and the service road. Hell, why not chuck King Street into the mix too? Difficult, yes, but not totally impossible.
One person who’s taken the broader view is local architect Deon Lombard. In his idea, the whole plot gets a total makeover. Where’s the parking you ask? It’s all underneath the buildings and the raised town square area leaving the river front free for a park. It can be done.
We’re not championing any particular scheme but it’s worth a look at Deon’s note to residents on taking a broader view. We think El Brute should be doing this too.
We even ran a quick parking poll on Twitter and the result from our small sample is clear cut. An alternative solution is what’s needed.
There are only a few hours left to comment. It’s time to feedback to the Council by 23.59 on 11th July and disagree with the current parking arrangements and provide broader feedback on the scheme. The survey questions are very narrow so you’ll need to add your own context where you can.
This is a once in a generation opportunity. It can and should be done better.
LINKS & INFO:
* LBRuT Twickenham Rediscovered – feedback to LBRuT via this link. Deadline is 23.59 on Tue 11th July.
Two remaining drop-in exhibitions are being held on the following dates at Clarendon Hall, York House:
Thur 6th July, 5 to 8pm
Sat 8th July, 10am to 5pm