The land between the river, King Street, Water and Wharf Lanes was purchased in 1924 by the then Twickenham Urban District Council with official sanction by, and a loan from, the Ministry of Health, for the purpose of providing public walks and pleasure grounds, surplus land, and street improvements – the period of repayment for the loan was 60 years.
On the land stood Richmond House which was used by the community until it was demolished in 1928. Parts of the land were sold for commercial properties.
The remaining land was public open space until the present swimming pool was opened in 1935 as a result of a public petition in 1928.
In 1937 King Street Parade shops, with flats over, were built, with a rear service road.
The pool was open from 1935 to 1981 when it was closed for repairs. Funds were allocated for repairs but not spent.
The site remained unused and derelict with several attempts at development by the Council. In 1990 a Marks & Spencer Store was proposed, resulting in a Public Inquiry, under a Planning Inspector, permission was refused.
A new scheme with Alsop Zogolovitch Ltd and First Premise Ltd was proposed.
Council relinquishes ties with developer after a public outcry.
A successful planning application was granted to the Twickenham Riverside Terrace Group in 2001 19/7/01 ( App No 01/0540/FUL & 01/0540/DD01) for the removal of the first floor of the existing pool changing rooms to form a terrace above a Cafe, boat hire and other facilities on the ground floor. The remaining site to be landscaped and the existing restaurant, Caretakers House, and public toilets brought back to use.
The Council in partnership with the developer who owned King Street Parade and the car park behind the shops, put forward a scheme for 47 luxury riverside flats above commercial use bars, restaurants, and a fitness centre with basement car parking and Cinemas. The Government Office for London ordered an Environmental Impact Assessment in June 2002; this was not provided and the Council terminated their association with the developer in 2003.
All major development schemes had been resisted by the public and local amenity societies, because of their mass and overdevelopment.
After a Public Inquiry Planning Permission was granted for 5 years from 18/6/04 for the new Council’s short term scheme to demolish the pool changing rooms and provide a children’s playground and Cafe at the Eastern Wharf Lane end of site (approximately 25% of the site area).
Twickenham Challenge announced. This invited participation from local organisations to provide, at no cost to the Council, a public amenity on the pool site. The Council to provide a specified area for the project at a peppercorn rent.
UDP Inspectors Report for the site recommended public open space as the predominant feature of the pool site, and says this should be immutable irrespective of the time scale of any proposal.
Playground and Cafe opened, cost £ 1.2 million.
The Challenge proposals result in three finalists. The Council selects the Twickenham River Centre, described as an educational information centre for the River, at the river end of Water Lane.
Change of Council
The River Centre building was now to be funded by other commercial development on site, such as non ‘affordable housing’. Playground would have beem moved to elsewhere on site or nearby to the East of the site. Public toilets and HANDS office to be included in the River Centre.
Council proposes to enter into a development deal with Countryside Properties to build 37 luxury houses and flats new roads and parking on site. With the shell of the River Centre provided by the developer. The Children’s playground to be relocated in the floodplain at the foot of Water Lane.
After successive unpopular development proposals TRTG considered it to be against the interest of the community to allow public amenity land by the river, and near the town centre, be built over by private luxury housing. It maintained that the site, which had lain derelict for 27 years, should be returned to its original purpose after its purchase in 1924.
To achieve this end TRTG submitted its own planning application (09/0914/FUL) in April 2009. TRTG included the retention of the popular and successful children’s play area, public support for public open space use of the pool site was demonstrated by a petition of 10,000 signatures. A referendum gave a 93% rejection of housing on the land.
09/0914/FUL would provide a much needed Town Square, an open space for community events such as music, art, skating, farmers markets. exhibitions, flower shows, space for tented accommodation, as well as facilities for exercise and sport, and refurbished public toilets. The scheme would restore to community use and benefit the whole site as an immediate priority. The existing buildings would be refurbished, adapted and improved for community use at low cost. The scheme would contribute to the desired regeneration of Twickenham by attracting visitors to its Riverside.
2010 Change of Council
Council pledges to return the pool site to community use administered by a community trust. Planning application 09/0914/FUL approved February 2011.
A small part of the site – the Secret Garden – was opened up to the public in January 2011.
Council say they will implement TRTG planning permission 09/0914/FUL by opening the Queen’s Jubilee Garden on the pool site.
The Council say they will unveil proposals for ‘phase two’ before Easter 2011
The Caretakers House is occupied by a Charity Help a Neighbour in Distress (HANDS). Other buildings on the pool site have been occupied until 2001 by the Riverside Play Group. Both organisations paid rent for their accommodation. The site is 0.42 Hectares in area.
The Twickenham Riverside Terrace Group. 8 January 2012