Tag Archives: hyperlocal

St Mary’s Expansion Plans Cause Local Concern

Forget trouble at t’mill, there’s trouble at t’Hill.  A plan for a big expansion of St Mary’s University is causing consternation among the residents of leafy Strawberry Hill.  The university, “off of Mo Farah”, has a grand vision to grow in size and prestige over the period to 2025. So far, so normal. So normal, perhaps until the scale of the plan becomes apparent.

The aim is to increase student numbers by close to 60% from just under 6,000 to around 9,000 and make room for them by building on the existing athletic and sports facilities at the Waldegrave Road site and developing their Teddington Lock playing fields with a new track, pitch and infrastructure.

St Mary’s University, Waldegrave Road

Concerned Strawberry Hillers (or are they Hillites?) fear the large expansion in student numbers and the accompanying new ‘student village’ will put excessive stain on their sleepy streets, fill them with students (and their cars) and generally have a detrimental impact on the area, with knock-on effects into Twickenham and Teddington. This development would also require building over Metropolitan Open Land, causing a loss of valuable green space.

Waldegrave Road sports fields and open space

Whilst we all want da yoof to get a good education ready for the exciting post-Brexit world, a 60% expansion in numbers at what is essentially a small educational establishment tucked away in a leafy suburb of a leafy suburb (yeah, deal with it, Hillers) does constitute a material change in scale.  New student halls (up to 11 in total) and new teaching blocks? Would things progress quite so smoothly if the construction work was for residential housing? We’re not so sure. But then again…

St Mary’s, Teddington Lock, playing fields

Traffic and parking is already a big issue on and around Waldegrave Road and ramping up the infrastructure at Teddington Lock will add to parking pressure in that neck of the woods too.

St Mary’s: new buildings go here. Accommodation in blue, teaching in pink

The St Mary’s “Vision 2025” states: “The intensely competitive environment for universities in the UK makes this a critical and exhilarating period in our drive to make St Mary’s a leading university. However, we start from a position of strength. We have a distinct mission and purpose, and a clear vision of the future”.  St Mary’s have worked with El Brute on a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) setting out how the estate could be developed in a way that will help deliver that vision.

However that vision is not one that chimes with some local residents.  The Neighbours of St Mary’s group are hoping to make the University and the Council take note of their concerns over the planned expansion. A representative told twickerati: “We think if the development is allowed to go ahead, it will destroy Strawberry Hill village forever, at a time when the Council themselves are trying to increase the village feel as part of their recent Village Planning… Why can’t the University do what others have successfully done, building second campus sites or spreading halls around an area using brownfield, low impact or town centre sites?”

So there you have it, the conundrum of a grand educational vision but one which will have a significant impact on a quiet residential neighbourhood. Who’s right? You decide.

LINKS & INFO:
St Mary’s are running drop in sessions on from 6pm to 8pm on 24th April 2017 and again on 6th May 2017 (10.30am-4pm). Stop by if you want to find out more or have your say, or click on the links below.

* St Mary’s University – Vision 2025
* Neighbours of St Mary’s University – local residents group

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Twickenham Decides… Again

9th May

In more candidate news:

Labour have announced their their candidate in Twickenham will be Katherine Dunne. She works at NPL in Teddington and lives in Hounslow where she’s also a Labour Councillor and Cabinet Member for Housing.  According to the Labour Party website she believes that a “reckless Brexit should be resisted” and will be “campaigning on the issues that matter most to local people”.

Meanwhile after the recent local ‘progressive alliance’ meeting the Green Party has announced that its candidates for Twickenham and Richmond Park will stand aside. The Greens have endorsed Liberal Democrat candidates Vince Cable and Sarah Olney in the two constituencies. The Green Party says it has much that it does agree on with the Lib Dems including holding “similar views on stopping ‘blank cheque’ Brexit, and  Heathrow Expansion”. Tactical stuff eh?

 

27th April…

In candidate news:

In addition to Tania Mathias (Conservative) and Vince Cable (Liberal Democrat), the Green Party has announced that its candidate for Twickenham will be first-timer Caroline Wren. The local Labour Party office has said that it will have announced its candidate by next week. There is no news yet on whether UKIP intend to field a candidate in Twickenham.

In neighbouring Richmond Park, Zac Goldsmith will be the Conservative Party candidate, returning to the fold after resigning over Heathrow expansion and then getting beaten by Sarah Olney of the Liberal Democrats when standing as an Independent in the subsequent by-election. Andree Frieze will be the Green Party candidate.

 

Meanwhile all this talk of so-called Progressive Alliances and tactical voting has manifested itself locally in the form of a meeting planned for 3rd May in Richmond. The local Green Party has invited members of “all progressive parties – and of none or the non-aligned” to a meeting to “discuss the options for ensuring centre-left politicians win or retain seats” in five local constituencies including Twickenham and Richmond Park.  Will a spirit of enlightenment and co-operation emerge or will party interests be hard to break down, as in “You’re very welcome to stand aside in favour of our candidate”.   The panelists will come from a range of parties and groups. It’s not yet known if the Judean People’s Front or the People’s Front of Judea will be attending.

 

19th April…

In June 2016 Twickenham said “Bremain” but the Nation said “We’d Bretter Brileave It”.  With a clear majority in favour of leaving the EU (a whopping 52% versus a measly 48%) the nation is united like never before. So bloody united in fact that the best way to show that national unity is by having a general election on June 8th. Hurrah! More voting, more punditry, more analysis. It’s clearly a dig at all those people who thought this country already had too many experts and too many polls.

Here in Little Ol’ Twickenham we’ll get to have our say too and send a message straight to the very heart of Westminster, wherever the hell that is.  In the last general election way back in May 2015 longstanding Liberal Democrat incumbent Vince Cable was narrowly defeated after a big swing to the Conservatives and their candidate Tania Mathias. Labour trailed in third with UKIP and the Greens following some way back.  A couple of other blokes stood too. Continue reading

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Twickenham Traders Bemused by Council “Regence-frication” Plan

Twickenham shopkeepers have again found themselves in conflict with the Council since the latter unveiled their renewed plan to spruce up the notoriously ailing high street last week.  With work on the controversial Riverside Piazza soon to begin, there is now a concerted push from York House for the immediate surrounding area to keep up with the classical theme and aesthetics.

Time for a spruce up?

As the LBRuT  statement reads: “One significant response to our recent, wide-reaching consultation with the people of Twickenham was the general feeling of inadequacy and neglect suffered by the main high street.  We have listened, and are now rectifying this situation by returning this veritable artery back to its former unspoilt glory.” This is to involve the compulsory removal of all bright, artificial-looking signage in exchange for more subdued colours provided by chief heritage advisers and sponsors, Farrow & Ball Ltd.   Many shop names, to be newly rendered in classic typefaces and in gilt, may need to be adapted, in some cases entirely renamed.  Failure to comply will result in hefty fines.

Particularly incensed was managing director of Poundland, Phil Barsguits, who told us “quite out of the blue we have been ordered to take down our distinctive bright green and white signage and replace it with what looks to me like the Harrods livery.  And if that wasn’t enough we are to be renamed Pounde Lande.”  Equally infuriated was Claire Bunne, head of central public relations at Iceland Foodstores UK, inexplicably to be re-branded in Twickenham as “Ireland”, who complained, “This is yet another example of local administrators stamping their authority over freedom of trade and expression.  Sadly we are bound by law to comply, as we found to our cost after Southend Council’s successful case to rename their local branch Viceland.” Most other retailers have been given the option to precede their name with “Mr” (for example Mr. Kentucky, Mr. Waterstones) or end with “& Sons” (Boots & Sons, WH Smith & Sons) or both (Mr. Starbuck & Sons).  Only Marks & Spencer seems to have escaped unscathed on all counts.

In defence of the scheme, dubbed “Twickenham Regence-frication”, Councillor Pamela Ewing explained that “in less than a year a very run-down corner of Twickenham favoured by vagrants will become the jewel in the Borough’s crown, with a splendid new piazza and town crier.  We simply cannot let the rest of Twickenham fall by the wayside.   This is a simple solution that will please absolutely everybody.”

New: LBRuT offical signage guidance

Contributor: Rich Monrode

LINK:
* LBRuT Press Release 1st April 2017

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Filed under High Street Updates, Local Issues & News

Council Tax Freeze Thaws

The recent years of no or very low increases to Council Tax are over. Residents in the Borough are now seeing bills land on their doormats for increases of around 3.5% as Council budgets come under pressure from cuts to the funding received from central government. With bills frozen from 2009 to 2015 and with a modest increase last year, the new charges mark a big change. Our Dear Leaders at El Brute have said that cuts in these government grants mean that savings of £31m need to be found to cover the shortfall in order to maintain vital services but increasing Council Tax forms part of the plan too. For a Band D property the hike will average out at 3.55%, comprising 3.99% for Richmond’s own council tax and 1.46% towards the Greater London Authority.

A Council Tax pictured recently

LBRuT Deputy Leader, Big Sam (that’s Geoffrey Samuel not Sam Allardyce btw), said “With unprecedented Government cuts to our funding, and increased pressure on social care, it simply isn’t feasible to freeze the tax any more. We now need to find a new way to deliver future services, working more collaboratively with our residents and partners.  This will take time. The only way we can cover the costs of vital services for the next year is to raise Council Tax and the adult social care precept”.  Some of the savings will continue to flow from the merger of Richmond and Wandsworth Councils’ operations functions, others are no doubt ‘tbc’.

The seat of El Brute power

The rise comes at a time when business rates continue to cause concern for many local traders and when newly announced National Insurance increases for the self-employed will add financial pressure to many already feeling the pinch.

So, are you happy that El Brute says it is raising Council Tax to protect important services or hacked off that you’re facing an above inflation rise after years of stable bills? Err, or both at the same time maybe?

LINKS:
* LBRuT Press Release
* LBRuT Council Tax Page

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Wow! A Twickenham High Street Update

Wow! You just won’t believe what Twickenham town centre looks like now!!

Clickbait, eh?  Hate or despise it you just can’t ignore it. Here at twickerati HQ we’re not in the business of using sensationalist headlines to try to draw in readers. Well, not all the time anyway but we do allow ourselves the odd exception. So what has been happening over the last few months then? Well, quite a lot since you (almost) asked. Here’s our round up of the recent real changes and the alternative facts on the mean streets of south west London’s premier leafy suburb.

On York Street, estate agents Haart will no longer be where your home is. They’ve closed. You’ll just have to buy or sell your house at one of the many other agents in Twickenham. So sad. Just along from them, poshly named Hugo Oliver, purveyors of luxury bathrooms, is now open for business in what used to be the Rugby Store and before that the Bottoms Up off licence. With Bensons for Beds just across the road and some other new businesses on Heath Road there does seem to be some kind of a ‘home improvementification hub’ developing in the town. That was part of the famous Twickenham Action Plan, aka the TWAP, if you recall.

 

Hugo Oliver. In the rain.

Hugo Oliver. In the rain.

On London Road, Happicraft has sold its last pram and completed its final 100 piece jigsaw puzzle. As with many other sellers of ‘things’, competition from online retailers proved too strong in the end. Many local parents were sad to see it go.  The building is now a pop-up charity shop for the Octavia Foundation. Continue reading

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Filed under Food & Drink, High Street Updates, Local Issues & News

New Cinema Club for Twickenham

If you like watching classic and cult films which rarely get an airing on television or in cinemas then you’re in luck.  A new cinema club is launching in Twickenham to do just that.  Called, rather unsurprisingly, Twickenham Cinema Club, the aim of the new venture is to create a club run by members, for members. You can expect an eclectic mix of film with the idea that the members are the curators. There will also be a social element to screenings with an opportunity to chat before and afterwards. The opening film is 1945’s ‘Mildred Pierce‘ starring Joan Crawford. It’s something of a noir classic, a tale of ambition, struggle and mother daughter rivalry and is based on the novel by James M Cain whose other books include The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity. How’s that for pedigree?

twickenham-cinema-club-logo

 

To join the club costs £10 per year with the first film free and subsequent films at £7. Otherwise it’s £10 on the door for non-members.  For local film buffs, the new club is a welcome complement to Richmond Film Society which has been running since 1963 and focuses on world cinema with screenings at St Mary’s University.

Mildred Pierce is showing at Patchworks at The Cabbage Patch pub on Wednesday February 8th.

 

LINK:

twickenham-cinema-club-debut-film

 

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It’s Thames Watergate! Dry Christmas Hits SW London

The was mild panic on Christmas morning across a swathe of South West London (and yes, that includes Twickenham) after a water pump failed at Thames Water’s Hampton works leaving thousands of homes with no water.  Here at twickerati HQ the pressure dropped to a level that there was just a trickle from the kitchen tap. For others in TW1 and TW2 there was no water whatsoever. Not ideal, especially on Christmas Day. And what does one do in a situation like that?  One takes to Twitter of course! Plenty of questions were being asked about when the service would be restored but also about whether it was possible to cook sprouts in wine and drink only alcohol for the day.  The White Swan were quick to point out that although they had no water they did have plenty of booze.

For those attempting to cook Christmas dinner there was there great debate about whether to press on or postpone.  Even at twickerati HQ the monumental step was taken to defer the arrival of 12 guests for an hour and a half as we waited for updates from Thames Water…. so there are always some positives to come out of situations of adversity.

After a few hours the problem was fixed, water was restored and thousands realised how reliant we all are on seemingly simple things like having water on tap (literally). But how was it for you?

 

Some water: in happier times

Some tap water: in happier times

 

LINK:

 

 

 

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Twickenham Christmas Lights Event – 27th November

Whilst we’re busy failing to bring you a round up of what’s going on in Twickenham, we thought we’d at least give a mention to the sizzlin’ spectacular Christmas Lights event taking place on Sunday 27th November. Put simply, it’s a Christmas event that’s taking place in Twickenham this Sunday, the 27th.

What’s on?  Plenty in and around King Street.  A Christmas market, a Santa’s grotto from 12.00pm and live entertainment from 2.30pm. Choo Choo! There are even train rides on one of those funny ‘petit train’ thingies.   There’s action in the Diamond Jubilee Gardens too. Oh, and look out for the reindeer.  The big switch on is at 5.30pm by the tree outside Santander.   Steve ‘off of the radio’ Allen will be doing the switch flicking.

 

Live nearer the Green? They’ll be turning a tree on there too.

 

LINK:

www.trytwickenham.com

(if it works for you)

 

Twickenham Christmas Tree

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It’s Poundbury-upon-Thames! New Riverside Designs for Twickenham Published

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

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 design from LBRuT website

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!!!

Possible Twickenham Embankment design From LBRuT website http://www.richmond.gov.uk/

Possible Twickenham Embankment design
From LBRuT website, http://www.richmond.gov.uk

Continue reading

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Filed under Local Issues & News, Twickenham Action Plan