Well, it’s finally happened! El Brute has now submitted and validation its planning application for the Twickenham Riverside site, or at least that part it deemed to be within scope of Twickenham’s ‘new heart’. If you want to comment then you’ll need to get your skates on because the there’s just a ‘statutory consultation period’ running over the next few weeks. The application covers only the site from Santander at the King Street / Water Lane junction down to that strange little raised bit where ‘the kids’ like to sit around drinking.  Oh, and don’t forget the service road too. The river frontage on the Embankment and the Diamond Jubilee Gardens are out of scope.

 

LBRuT’s image of Riverside Development.

We’re not going to re-hash previous articles which have summarised the long and drawn-out process but suffice it to say that except for a few more tweaks from their last round of ‘consultation’, the Council has decided to ‘just get on with it’.  It’s reminiscent of that part of The Apprentice when the candidates are lined up facing Lord Sugar after their task and despite their protestations he raises his Sugary Hand and says “I’ve heard enough now”. LBRuT won’t be addressing the issue of parking directly in front of the river, won’t be considering a lido and won’t be looking at a holistic approach to the riverside. In essence there are two buildings, with the ‘smaller’ one being closer to the river, squatting in the space where it feels like open terrace should be.  There is a mix of retail and residential and there is a ‘town square’ but we question whether it could host the French market or Farmers market both in terms of size and access.

What’s LBRuT’s take? They say they will be constructing two buildings, “one on the riverside and one on King Street, stretching down Water Lane… each building would be a mixture of replacement retail, business and community space, with the upper floors providing 39 residential flats (including affordable housing).  The development proposals also include significant open space, which has been designed to complement Diamond Jubilee Gardens, provide a space for community activities, and draw people down to the river”.

 

Tiny Town Square goes here (sort of)

All this comes after over two years of proposals, iterations and consultation sessions which have seen the original (unsuitable) Terry designs morph into something else completely yet which have still left many dissatisfied. From architecture which began as a bold but ill-fitting statement of someone else’s vision for Twickenham, we’ve ended up with something that’s, errr, ‘blocky and functional’.  Of course, it’s not just two years, there have been ideas, proposals and consultations about the riverside floating around for many years, decades in fact. Purchasing the ‘Santander site’ was a good decision that enabled some important riverside space to be brought more fully into the public realm as an asset for Twickenham. The whole scheme will have a negative ‘residual land value’ of £6m. Your opinion of that will depend on what you think taxpayers’ money should be spent on and how much benefit you think the scheme brings to Twickenham overall.

El Brute have been quick to put the scheme into the planning process in the wake of the autumn consultation and their press release cagily refers to statutory consultation. This is, we think, 21 days from the date of validation (6th December). In other words comments are due by the end of the 28th December. What with Christmas coming and all the rest of it, it’s almost as if they didn’t want the application to get a decent airing. Funny dat.

If you want to make comments then you can now do so, whether in support of the scheme or against it.   Objections need to be made on valid grounds if they’re to carry any weight.  “I just don’t like it” is not a valid objection.  Comments must focus on issues that the planning wonks will (or should) take into account such as: layout and density of building; design, appearance and materials; proposals in the [Twickenham] Development Plan; visual amenity and so on.

El Brute say they expect a decision by 7th March 2018. Just in time to get things done and dusted before the ‘purdah’ period in the run up to May’s local elections.

 

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