Twickenham Riverside Terrace Group is an independent, non-aligned organisation, started in 2001. It’s purpose is to achieve a community riverside, held in trust for the people of Twickenham. The group’ is the spearhead of a community initiative, supported by over 10,000 people.
The Twickenham Riverside Terrace Group (TRTG) is a community action group dedicated to restoring public open space on the Twickenham Pool site. TRTG considers that the development football of this site has been kicked around for too long. To allow a site by the River in the centre of Twickenham to lie derelict for 27 years a perfectly usable piece of land originally purchased by a community spirited Council in 1924 for public walks and pleasure purposes to remain closed to the public for this length of time is an unprecedented wasteful neglect of a community asset.
The positive building of a popular and successful children’s play area and café in 2004 should remain. TRTG considers the Councils plans to dismantle and move this amenity which assists in bringing parents and business to the town centre shops is acting contrary to the wishes of parents and the community, as well as a public waste of money.
TRTG will campaign for the Council to implement its proposals for public open space on this riverside site and to put into action the UDP Inspectors recommendations. Its ongoing petition has already over 3000 signatures and is growing daily.
TRTG is concerned that the built development to justify the Councils expenditure on the shell of the proposed River Centre will not be limited to that purpose alone. Offices for HANDS and community toilet use of the River Centre are preplanned doubt as to the method of funding. The site area is not defined, whether it includes the present car park in Water Lane, or co operation with the owners of that car park and King Street Parade. The River Embankment is understood to be included,in the site area. The Councils failure to maintain the River Embankment and recent post playground contractual neglect of the pool site will be added into the cost. These costs will be further increased by the heady mixture of exemplar sustainability building, and ill defined grandiose district energy plans. In achieving these ends the Council plans to circumvent current affordable housing requirements solely in order to increase the return on the development. This could result in higher denser luxury housing developments, creating a wealthy housing ghetto. The value of this site in this prime location far exceeds the basic cost of the River Centre.
TRTG draw attention to the dangers to the community of neglecting the principal requirement of public open space, an amenity to all ages. Examples of building on former privately owned amenity sites such as Richmond Ice Rink have been detrimental to the leisure opportunities of the community. Massive Riverside flat developments along the River Thames, locally evident at Kingston, Putney and Kew, have resulted in accommodation out of the reach of first time buyers.
By again handing over the pool site to developers the Council are sacrificing a community leisure amenity in a unique position in the centre of Twickenham. A public leisure amenity that the Council have chosen to neglect for over 27 years. The only charitable reason for this must be lack of will and vision. There has been no research into revenue raising activities for an open space in this unique situation. The amenity is already there, all it needs is a determined responsible Council who can see into the future and realise that our children and future generations will not thank us for building on every conceivable open space by the River Thames whether it has the excuse of exemplar sustainability or not.
It remains to be seen whether the latest appointed Consultant 5 practice team come up with any acceptable proposals. If the £1/2 million allocated had been spent by the Council in 1984 we would now be improving on a useful amenity. It is certain that if the combined money that has been spent on reports schemes and surveys over 25 years had been spent on the site itself we would have an amenity the envy of all. It is not much to ask of a Council that they spend on amenity and the future. s costed its original site landscaping cost, assuming that the present site is partly used by (a) The Children’s playground and (b) The River Centre, leaving approximately 2000 sq metres. This cost is of the order of £600,000. It is this small sum of money,(equivalent to a normal years Council spend on paper reports and proposals for this site) that stand between public and commercial use of this site.
2007-2011 update pending.