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.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
Tag Archives: riverside
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.”
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.
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).
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.
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.
REVISED: This item is an updated and re-vamped version of the one published on 12th July.
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.
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
If you can’t always remember what’s great about living in Twickenham then spring mornings and spring tides should be near the top of your list. Need some photos to remind you? Here’s four for you then.
There are probably a bunch of other reasons too but we’ll come back to them another time (when we actually remember them).
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.
Just over a month ago LBRuT published the results of its consultation on the design plans for Twickenham riverside and the elusive town square. Despite the positive spin put on the report it was clear that feedback on the concept was – and how shall we put this delicately – strongly negative. Actually that’s not fair. If you discard the absence of any real ‘town square’, a dislike of the regency styling which has little in common with its immediate surroundings, the failure to open up the town to the river via Water Lane, the scale of the development and the inclusion of up to 40 flats, the plan went down pretty well. Some aspects did receive a positive response, especially the parts focused on developing public gardens next to the river and reducing the dominance of cars and car parking on that part of the site. For others, the fact that it was not a plan for a new lido was also a major disappointment. Jump back to the present and we now have a new action group, a public meeting and the appearance of TWIKKID, Twickenham’s very own online satirical cartoonist.
As we pointed out, of the 754 responses received just 93 comments said the plans met the needs of the local community. That’s a meagre 12%. Sure, it’s important to bear in mind that it’s easier and more natural to oppose development than to support it but that’s still a very low figure given that almost all of Twickenham is in favour of developing the site in some way. Continue reading
Oh dear. That wasn’t supposed to happen, was it? And yet, at the same time, it was all so predictable. The results of the El Brute consultation on its Twickenham riverside and town square proposals have been published and it seems that the locals are not hugely impressed. So much for ‘design competitions’, pop up shops and positive spin from York House, the regency style scheme featuring amphitheatre, colonnade, shops and up to 40 flats does not seem to have wowed the twickerati (that’s you lot by the way).
The results have been analysed by ‘customer feedback solutions’ gurus Snap Surveys who probably know more about this kind of thing than you do and it’s pretty clear that the negative responses far outweigh the positive ones. The accompanying LBRuT press release says, “The Council and the architects will now carry out a detailed review of the ideas and comments put forward by the public before coming forward with ideas for development”. It goes on to say that the Council ‘understands’ it needs to reconsider its approach to a number of areas. It certainly does.
Although like any survey the results are open to interpretation, some things stand out very clearly in the themes that Snap Surveys focused on. Of 754 responses received there were just 93 comments that felt the plans met the needs of the local community. That’s 12%. Not great, especially when the purpose of the plan was (and we hope still is) to regenerate the site and open up the town centre to the river. Twenty comments in the 754 were positive about the architecture. That’s 3% which, in case you’re not too good at maths, is not great either. As for the amphitheatre, 35 comments liked that. It’s true that calculating percentages out of themed responses isn’t exactly scientific even if it is fun, so do start taking pinches of salt when you get your calculator out. Continue reading