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….
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
* LBRuT Press Release 1st April 2017
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.
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?
* LBRuT Press Release
* LBRuT Council Tax Page
If you thought you’d had your fill of chances to ‘have your say’ on the expansion of Heathrow then you’d be wrong. If you thought that as a local resident your views would count for very little when stacked up against those of politicians and business, then you’d be right. Hey ho, that’s the way it goes but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have your say yet again in a brand new exercise. There are even things you can turn up to in Twickenham and other local towns.
This time it’s a Government consultation on their ‘approved’ option for a new third runway to the north west of the current two. It was launched recently and runs until 25th May and so there’s plenty of time for your views to be discounted. In launching the consultation, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling referenced leaving the EU as a reason why building airport capacity at Heathrow is ‘crucial’ for UK growth and thus the endless years of debate about Heathrow have become Brexitified. With Gatwick beaten into second place, expansion at Heathrow looks certain to happen, unless of course it takes so long to reach a final, final, final agreement that Star Trek style teleporting technology supersedes cramming people into giant metal tubes with engines tacked on the sides. The current thinking seems to be that a new north west runway could be delivered by 2026, so let’s call that 2032 to be on the safe side. It might even be finished before the new Twickenham station!
Plane landing at Heathrow
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
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