There are big changes afoot for twickerati. Newly announced support from Richmond Council means that this blog will be able to play a bigger role in communicating news about what the Council is doing. As part of the arrangement, this twickerati blog along with several others across the Borough will become part-funded by the Council. In return the hyperlocal websites will promote Council stories and cover the facts Richmond’s leaders believe that locals should be focusing on.
From a twickerati perspective this is good news. Blog Editor Russell said, “The team and I have discussed this in great detail. We all genuinely believe that after nearly seven years of blogging from an independent perspective a fresh approach is required to better engage with the community. Looking back we can see that we have often covered stories from a narrow and often rather limited perspective. Take the Gloriana boat house for example. In hindsight we believe that could have made important strides in developing a tired and run down local park. We now look forward to working closely with Lord True and the rest of the LBRuT team to keep Twickenham residents up to date with what’s going on. With the Council’s resources behind us we’ll be able to do real justice to the stories that matter”.
In an El Brute Press Release, Director of Communications, Mike Coles said: “With so many unreliable news outlets and so much wanton distortion of the facts across social media this new deal will cut through to the stories that matter. We’ll be presenting the true facts using trusted partners. We begin rolling out our new partnership by adding some Richmond Council branding to twickerati, Teddingtonia and TotalRichmond, by sharing stories and through merging our twitter feeds. Our first big initiative will see leading Councillors take the news to the residents in a re-painted version of the iconic twickerati ice cream van. Keep a look out for it on Twickenham riverside.”
In a series of tweets from the official @lbrut Twitter account, Richmond Council Leader Lord True said:
“Too many pot shots from failing local media. Many blogs misinformed and overrated. So sad”
“We now have the chance for more constructive relationships with all local bloggers, bypassing mainstream media.”
“Time to get to work getting the truth out there. No more fake news. We can now deal in real FACTS”
“Joining forces with @twickerati, @teddingtonia & @totalrichmond makes sense. Great borough. The Best.”
Exciting times, eh? We think you will like the new look and we hope you will love our more mainstream approach to covering local news. Our next feature will be an in-depth look at the plans for making Twickenham riverside great again and that will be followed in May by a re-appraisal of the Twickenham station development.
Mr Whippy. Twickerati van gets LBRuT branding.
2017 is up and running, we’re one month in and you’re thinking to yourself, ‘Is this going to be the year when work on Twickenham station finally gets underway?’ You think that but you know, deep down in your heart of hearts that there’s a fair chance it could end up being next year, or the year after, or maybe never. Twickenham Station? Twickenham Stationary more like!
A warm welcome to Twickenham
Word on the street seems to be that Solum Regeneration, the company behind the big development, is planning to finally get things moving in April. It seems so long ago since their overly large mish mash of styles received approval from El Brute’s Planning Wonks. It is a long time ago. Solum has dabbled with the idea of progress but it’s been kicked back on several occasions for whatever reasons. It seems that things have proved a little more complicated than originally envisaged. Add to that part-owner Kier Property selling its share of the Solum joint venture with Network Rail to Capital & Counties Properties Plc and maybe explains part of the dither-fest of the last few years. It might do but Kier are still committed to the Twickenham scheme with C&C moving some of the others forward. So far, so nothing.
A station. In Twickenham
The reality seems to be that Solum and the RFU can’t get themselves organised to agree the dates at which the station work can get underway. There’s rugby (and money) at stake don’t you know. The ‘possession’ dates planned so far for 2017 begin on April 9th and are dotted across the year but some already clash with rugby or NFL games which could see them move yet again. And this is only for ‘enabling works’ such as setting up the temporary ticket office in the car park, moving cables and hoarding off works areas. Mary’s Terrace residents can expect a ring side seat for all this work and it’s not even the big stuff. The message seems to be don’t hold your breath because April 9th could easily become June or September and so on. We’ll just have to see who wins this tedious ‘tug of station love’ between the RFU, Network Rail and Solum.
Here’s what you would have won
Meanwhile the ‘community cultural hub’ slap bang opposite the station which has been something of a mystery in terms of purpose and management will now be run by St Mary’s University.
Obviously to attract students there it’s going to require them to walk past about a dozen pubs and a couple of kebab shops first which could present a significant challenge but having St Mary’s involved might bring some fresh thinking to central Twickenham. The building will comprises a 300 seat theatre space, six multi-purpose studio rooms and a large conservatory area. So, what’s actually going to happen there then? St Mary’s say we can expect a cafe that will be open to the public, theatre, film, comedy and music nights and the inevitable conference and venue hire options. Full details have yet to be finalised but it would be good to see the building getting regular use with events that appeal to the whole community and not just becoming a satellite student union building or a bland conference facility. Managed in the right way it could bring something new to the town. Let’s hope so.
A hub. In the community.
* Network Rail – Kier sells its stake in Solum (old news)
* St Mary’s University to run community building
Richmond Council, aka El Brute, are running a series of engagement sessions around Twickenham and Strawberry Hill to get your views on the state of the world in God’s Own Outer London Suburb (GOOLS). The sessions take different formats ranging from a Leader’s Question Time, with no less a personage than Lord True, the Blue Baron himself, via drop-in sessions and all the way through to ‘walkabouts’ where you can roam the streets pointing out all the things you don’t like, and maybe some that you do.
It’s part of LBRuT’s grand scheme of ‘village plans’. These are all about trying to shape how your local area will develop and what the key issues, priorities and opportunities are. El Brute say these will help inform their work on improving the villages (Editor: And towns please! Twickenham is a town!) across the borough. Previous Question Time sessions have taken place in the last couple of years at various locations, including East Twickenham, St Margarets and Whitton. Lord True’s state carriage will be travelling to Strawberry Hill and to The Stoop in Twickenham.
What’s hot? Parking, pot holes, traffic, schools, planning, noise, empty shops and dare we say the word ‘Riverside’?
Will you be having your say?
York House: The seat of El Brute power
* Wed 11th Jan 6.30 to 8.30pm. Strawberry Hill – Leader’s Question Time at Strawberry Hill Golf Club
* Wed 18th Jan 6.30 to 8.30pm. Twickenham – Leader’s Question Time at The Stoop (Harlequins Rugby Club)
* Sat 25th Feb 10am to 4pm. Strawberry Hill and Twickenham – Drop in consultation at the Emmanuel Centre, St James Church, Popes Grove
* Sun 26th Feb 10.30am to 12.30pm. Strawberry Hill Walkabout – Meet at Emmanuel Centre, St James Church
* More details and more dates in March via the link below
* LBRuT Village Plan events
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
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 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!!!
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).
Water Lane car park – Twickenham riverside
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’.
To paraphrase former plucky-Brit-cum-war-boss Winston Churchill, we cannot forecast the actions of Richmond Council when it comes to Twickenham Riverside. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. Wise words Winston! But what is that key? Is the key to understanding it the Council’s desire to just get something built and move on so that they can say, “At least we did something?”. Is it about building a fancy-dan lasting legacy to something or other? Or is it to provide ‘new heart for Twickenham’ as their most recent consultation push suggested? Dunno.
Extract of design from LBRuT website
But what we do know is that the original regency themed design concept complete with colonnade and amphitheatre proved unpopular with a significant majority. Yes, there will always be naysayers, nimbys, blockers and haters but the lack of public support for a redevelopment that is desperately needed was quite telling. Telling too was the Council’s second big consultation on the subject which took place over the summer and which barely mentioned the original scheme despite a clear intention to stick with the same principles and the same architects.
Public meeting about Twickenham Riverside
REVISED: This item is an updated and re-vamped version of the one published on 12th July.
Twickenham riverside site from Embankment
Folks, for months we had been expecting the big reveal, the grand unveiling, or, if you will, the presentation to end all presentations! We are of course talking about the revised plans for the Twickenham Riverside development. Remember that old thing? How could you not? It’s big. Well, after trailing the pop-up shop to review the revised designs, we’re now told we’ll have a wait a while yet as more consultation is required. Apparently.
As you full well know, and do not pretend that you don’t, when El Brute presented their regency inspired ‘design concept’ for the site last year it was met with views that ranged from mild disappointment all the way to downright anger. OK, so there was indifference too and even a small smattering of delight but for the most part the ideas presented fell quite a way short of what most residents were hoping for. Be honest, have you actually met anyone who really liked the design? The much discussed town square seemed to be missing, the opening up of the King Street shops to the river via Water Lane hadn’t happened and the prospect of a regency inspired amphitheatre with up to 40 flats on top didn’t really compute with the brief of making best use of this prime riverside location. The colonnade of shops didn’t go down well either, although the creation of garden space in front of the Diamond Jubilee Gardens was generally popular… except with people who currently park their cars there. So far, so meh! For others, the fact that the plans were not a new lido also presented a major obstacle.
Extract of design from LBRuT website
El Brute sought feedback and the result was a resounding ‘no thanks’ from the hundreds who took the time to reply. Of the 754 consultation responses received just 93 said the plans met the needs of the local community. Ouch! A local Riverside Action Group was formed to try to persuade Richmond Council to re-think the whole process but the Council pressed on, telling you lot that it would listen to your views and make amendments to the designs that had been created by its chosen architects, Q&F Terry (esteemed “designers of new classical buildings”) who had won El Brute’s ‘competition’. Continue reading
The 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death seems like an apposite time for an update on the Twickenham Riverside development. Why? Well, we’ve got comedy, tragedy, a cast of memorable characters, history repeating itself and bitter power struggles. Add to that the option for referencing this saga to the titles of Shakespeare’s plays (e.g. The Comedy of Errors or As True Likes It, etc, etc, add your own versions at the end) and then top it off with the possibility that we might get an amphitheatre on which we’ll be able to see it all acted out one day. Bostin’ as they say in the Midlands although whether they say it as far south as Stratford-upon-Avon is a mystery (to us).
You’ll recall that after having listened to local residents across several consultations over several years, the Council went away, did some mulling and cogitating, worked with big name architects Q&F Terry and then unveiled designs for the riverside which nobody particularly seemed to like. Oh dear. LBRuT (pron: El Brute) then announced that it would work on revisions which would take account of residents’ feedback and, possibly, just possibly, make the scheme do the things that it was originally supposed to do, namely create a useful town square and open up central Twickenham to the river.
Twickenham riverside site from Embankment
You’ve probably seen this building loads of times. Perhaps you walk past it every day on your way to the station. Maybe you’ve even pondered on how it’s possible to put so much scaffolding against one single structure? But what exactly is it?
Brewery Wharf, Twickenham
Why, it’s the new ‘community and cultural building’ for Twickenham of course! It’s part of the large Brewery Wharf development that’s going up on the old Royal Mail sorting office site. It’s a big site and will include over one hundred new flats and houses with a very light sprinkling of shared ownership homes too. Part of the deal for the development was for some kind of community building that would benefit the town. It’s not a bad idea even if, according to us here at twickerati HQ, it’s in the wrong place. Wouldn’t it be better located right, slap bang in the town centre, possibly even as part of the Twickenham riverside development? We think so, but what do we know. Anywayyyyy…