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!
More cars please we’re British!
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.)
Richmond Riverside… with ice cream van and not much else
Water Lane car park – Twickenham riverside
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.
Twickenham riverside site from Embankment
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. Continue reading
Solum’s ‘regeneration’ of Twickenham station will finally get going in the next few weeks. Sort of. This was the development that dithered and dallied but was then definitely going to take place after the Rugby World Cup back in 2015. It’s now 2017 and, true to their word and the very passing of time itself, it still is definitely after the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
It’s been a long wait. The process will see preparatory work take place before and a new station building goes up and the construction of new residential blocks. Think several years’ worth of work.
Peter the florist – moved on
One of the by-products of the project is that we say goodbye to the Puccino cafe outside the station, the ABC newsagent and Peter the Florist whose “Two bunches for five fifty therrrrre” has been a regular refrain outside the station for many years. And of course, who can forget the fateful day when prices went up 10% taking those all important two bunches from “a fiver, therrrre” to “five fifty”?
No bunches for five fifty!
Although the development itself can hardly be news to anyone let alone the traders affected – it’s been ‘almost happening’ for years – the word is that Peter was given just one week’s formal notice to vacate. Hmmm. Assuming that’s correct that’s not great Solum. His pitch is within Solum’s development boundary and perhaps they were not obliged to offer alternatives either. And what of Richmond Council? El Brute’s Pamela Fleming tweeted that, “Our licensing officers are proactive in helping him relocate”. That’s good, although one might wonder why nothing had been finalised with only days to go before the deadline. Peter’s most likely destination is Teddington but at least one option in Twickenham has been explored. Surely there must be one spot in the town where he could continue selling to local shoppers and commuters?
ABC News – closed
Hoardings are due to go up soon (note the blue marker lines on the pavement) and a building site created. Strange to think that the old sorting office site opposite has been almost fully rebuilt in the years that the station development has not been happening. Funny old world innit?
* Richmond Council Page on Twickenham Station Development
* Sign up for updates from Solum on the construction sheme
And finally. Thanks for the memories….
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