Tag Archives: Twickenham Action Plan

Public Meeting Planned Over El Brute’s Romano-Regency Riverside Plan

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

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

Public meeting about Twickenham Riverside

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Twickenham Riverside Development: Will LBRuT Listen?

REVISED: This item is an updated and re-vamped version of the one published on 12th July.

Twickenham riverside site from Embankment

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

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

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Residents’ Riverside Draft Revealed

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

Twickenham riverside site from Embankment

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A Twickenham Cultural Hub. Well, Will It Be?

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

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…

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Twickenham Riverside Is Revolting (Again)

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.

Twickenham riverside site from Embankment

Twickenham riverside site from Embankment

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

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Locals Left Unimpressed by Twickenham Riverside Plan

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.

Twickenham Embankment from Eel Pie Bridge

Twickenham Embankment from Eel Pie Bridge

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

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Twickenham Riverside – Are The Natives Revolting?

Extract of design from LBRuT website

Extract of design from LBRuT website

Arguments over the plans for Twickenham riverside rumble on as LBRuT’s 11th December deadline for feedback fast approaches. The idea for the newly purchased site running down Water Lane from King Street to the river hasn’t met with universal approval. OK, forget universal approval, it doesn’t even seem to have met with widespread Twickenham approval. We recently ran a simple 24 hour poll on Twitter. It read: “What’s your view on LBRuT’s new design concept for the Twickenham Riverside development?” and it offered a choice of two options:
(a) Broadly right
(b) Simply wrong

121 voted, not a large sample we’ll admit and not a very scientific poll but the results were:
(a) Broadly right 37%
(b) Simply wrong 63%

Interesting. Comments on other social media platforms tell a similar story. The Richmond & Twickenham Times ran their own poll and managed to find a few more people in favour, but not too many more.
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Twickenham Riverside & Town Square Plan – Have We Come Full Circle?

Santander. King St / Water Lane

King St / Water Lane

There’s no local issue guaranteed to get Twickenham people all fired up quite like the fate of the old swimming pool site by the river. Apart from Heathrow expansion, the RFU, the Gloriana boathouse debacle, schools, cycle lanes and traffic that is, but let’s put them to one side for a second.

When it comes to the saga of the old Twickenham Baths site, or more specifically the piece of land running from Water Lane down to Embankment then this week is an important one. It’s time for the big reveal. Woohoo! This is the week when you get to see LBRuT’s plans for a town square (and other stuff) which will, so we are told, ‘give a focus to the town’ and help open up the space between King Street and Twickenham’s greatest asset. And by ‘greatest asset’ we don’t mean the twickerati ice cream van or even that giant pink rugby ball, we mean the riverside. The concept being promoted by El Brute is a ‘regency style’ development complete with covered arcade, colonnade and amphitheatre. Well, at least we can say that there’s not a lot of that in Twickenham town centre at the moment. Continue reading

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Twickenham Lido?

If you read the local paper or do the ol’ social media thing then you’ll be well aware of the current shenanigans around the idea for a new Twickenham Lido. Given that some of you lovely folk have already mentioned it on our recent High Street Update we thought we’d add a brief new item for you to talk all about it. And not only did we think about adding a post about it, we’ve bloody well gone ahead and done it. Here.

In brief:
El Brute recently(ish) bought the Water Lane site which runs from Santander and M&Co down to the river. The plan? To develop it into some kind of town square complete with mixed use development to make the whole thing viable. Think words like plaza and piazza. Many people – including the team here at twickerati – thought this was broadly a good idea. Some didn’t. Will it work? Who knows? Details are still scant at this stage. It goes without saying that the devil will be in the detail… although we have actually just said it anyway.

El Brute then announced it was running some kind of competition to find the best design for the site. As far as we could tell this turned out to be more along the lines of a standard procurement exercise than what Joe Public might interpret as a ‘competition’.  But we could be wrong and often are. The Council have announced that architects Quinlan and Francis Terry will be the ones to do the business for Twickenham. They’re the people who revamped Richmond Riverside and who specialise in classical designs which suggests we can rule out anything modern. El Brute plan to share the ideas with the public at some point so perhaps that’s where we’ll get to see the rosettes, certificates and cups. Continue reading

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