Twickenham Riverside Terrace Group

A riverside in trust for the community

Briefing Paper for LBRuT Council

The TRTG’s full submission to Cllr. Tony Arbour, to assist in preparation of the new Council’s Review Report on the Riverside.

Twickenham Riverside Terrace Garden May 2002

Introduction

This paper sets out our current position with respect to the Twickenham Terrace Garden Group’s proposals for Twickenham Riverside. In addition it covers briefly some of the organisation and administrative measures necessary to realise the project. Our approach is based on a co-operative and enabling Council. To date we have endeavoured to identify the minimum necessary work to enable public use of this land as a garden. However it is possible to improve the present concept provided the will and the funds are available. This improvement can be a phased in as funds allow.

The Site

The site in this proposal will be the area from the Riverbank to the service road to the rear of King Street Parade, excluding the existing car park, with Water Lane and Wharf Lane as its East and West boundaries. Consultation with the Estates department of the Council is necessary to define the land owned, the land leased and the land open to negotiation. It will also be necessary to inspect all site buildings, landscape, and mature trees in order to realise the full potential and properly assess costs.

The existing planning consent

The existing scheme approved by the Council and the Secretary of State is for:

  • the demolition of the upper storey of the existing changing rooms and the existing toilet building facing the river.
  • the creation of a raised viewing terrace at the remaining first floor level of the changing rooms, which is at the same level as the existing pool ground area.
  • the creation of arched accommodation below for community and river related use and new public toilets.
  • New access stairs are to be provided and the existing pool filled and landscaped into a garden.

Modifications to the existing planning consent

Preliminary Consultation has already taken place with the Planning Officers with a view to securing permission for the additional facilities now included. It has been agreed that a further submission will be made and an illustrated outline application will be made which will identify the modifications to the facilities now proposed.

The reasons and the principal modifications are as follows:-

  1. To reduce the cost of the necessary enabling work.
  2. Occupation of both the old Cafe Restaurant and the Caretakers house by community charities should have ensured that maintenance by the Council has been carried out. Only the minimum necessary decoration work will be carried out internally.
  3. With regard to the ground floor to the new terrace. The work carried out will enable the letting of a shell building in conformity with standard commercial practice allowing a tenant to shop fit to his own requirements.
  4. Provision of basic services to the lettable areas.
  5. Utilisation of the existing pool structure to provide a ramped terraced area suitable for open air events.
  6. The existing public toilets will not now be demolished, in order to save construction costs. The present facilities are spacious and serve additional purposes for river sports activities that require use of a changing area not otherwise readily available.
  7. The existing masonry wall above the first floor of the existing changing rooms building (pool surround level ) will be retained to cill height with a new coping in order to provide an adequate safety barrier.
  8. The existing ground floor is subject to flooding and therefore arrangements for suitable flood barriers will need to be incorporated, dependant on nature of use by the tenants.

By these modifications a considerable saving in both demolition and construction costs can be achieved. This will bring the actual cost of realising the terrace garden down to a sum which can if not supported by the Council can be readily raised. In the event the money for further improvements can be raised by both public subscription, grants, and funding from other sources.

Implementation

It is important that the scheme is realised and then improved if funds permit rather than not realised at all due to ambitious and costly plans

Our target is to implement the following :-

  • Stage 1 Carry out an environmental audit of plants and wildlife. After over 20 years neglect it is important that any rare species of plant or wildlife is categorised.
  • Stage 2 Allow public access to this land as soon as possible. This is achievable once initial demolition and securing the site has been carried out.
  • Stage 3 Work on the interiors of the existing buildings can be progressed.
  • Stage 4 Letting and negotiation of leases with prospective tenants.

We aim to be in discussion with Community Groups regarding community needs. Liaison with the public, Council and local amenities groups is essential to ensure that the scheme includes the public amenities on a priority achievable basis.

Establish the trust to administer the site

Administration of the site is proposed by a properly constituted and registered Trust this will follow the example of the Petersham Lands. The Trust will lease the site from the Council for a period of 125 years for a peppercorn rent.

The Trust will invite membership from local community organisations.

The purpose of the Trust will be:

  • to run the site
  • ensure that the development is for use by arts, community, charity and leisure groups
  • to raise funds
  • ensure that public interest is met
  • ensure that any development is limited to that sufficient for the purpose of ensuring community and public use.

Income for the trust will flow from the letting of all existing buildings, the hiring, letting and sponsoring of space for activities such as farmers’ markets and theatrical events, etc. This will assist in funding maintenance and improvements.

The Existing Buildings

We propose to retain the buildings and elements which will contribute to the proposed scheme and result in less expenditure. Improvements and alterations can be carried out as and when funds permit. In accordance with the requirements of T1 and the planning Inquiry of 1991 the buildings will preserve and enhance the domestic scale and character of the Conservation Area and its riverside setting within an area of special character. Its emphasis will be directed towards the river with its historic association from pre swimming pool days of a public park.
The proposal retains certain elements of an example of a 1930s public community building erected in 1934 as a consequence of a public petition. The creation of the terrace garden will ensure the concept of public trust land purchased by The Twickenham Urban District Council in 1924 is maintained.

The Terrace Garden View

The existing pool grounds are at the same level as the existing first floor of the changing rooms building which will become the public terrace. The terrace will open up a vista of fine views up and down the river Thames from this vantage platform. The scheme has many possibilities including a link with the Arcadia in the City project to restore the original Thames views, with the realisation of an elevated camera obscura and facilities for projection at ground level.

Community Amenities

We have consulted with the local amenity societies and the Riverside Co-ordination Group and kept them informed and have modified our proposals accordingly.

The projected amenities will be community based and available to all ages. Environmental planting includes conservation of existing trees, a children’s playground plus a cafe and restaurant. Lightweight structures on the terrace and along the rear service road, help to hide the run down rear areas of the King Street properties. These amenities will be available to all.

Other amenities such as a winter skating facility is feasible as well as other community events such as concerts, theatrical events utilising the terrace garden, farmers’ markets and exhibitions. The provision of and funding of an undoubted tourist attraction such as the pontoon will be vigorously pursued with the relevant authorities. We will ensure that there is a balance of green area to ensure that the site does not become over built and lose its primary purpose as an open leisure space for the public enjoyment.

River Landing Stage

The use of the river and access to Twickenham by river can be promoted by the construction of a landing stage that would facilitate the dropping of passengers. The location authorisation, provision of and funding of an undoubted tourist attraction such as this landing stage, a basic requirement of the planning brief T1, will be vigorously pursued with the relevant authorities.

Funding

Dependant on the land gift or leasing arrangement that can be struck with the Council, investigation of all the available options and sources will be carried out. Grants from particular interest bodies to carry out specific parts of the development that will be of value to the community. Funding will be sought for particular needs, lottery, green space, play or community action money, and sponsorship.

Security

Security has been discussed on site with the Metropolitan Police and we will be at their suggestion implementing a “Secured By Design” policy. In addition the site will benefit by occupation and will be overlooked by the flats and houses surrounding the site.

The Future

This site did not become unused of its own volition. Parts of it have been kept alive by community welfare groups who are still in residence. The site is not derelict: it has enormous potential. Now is the time to correct that community neglect and lack of will of 20 years duration and restore this public trust land to its rightful owners, the public, with tangible public amenities. With such a view to the river it will no doubt increase the value of all surrounding property. Keeping the land in public ownership will ensure that there is a flexibility of use that will enable a perceived public need enabled by funds to restore original or provide new public facilities.

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