Twickenham Riverside Terrace Group

A riverside in trust for the community

Letter re Planning Application 03/1141/FUL and 03/1142/CAC

To: Mr R Summers

Planning Department,
London Borough of Richmond upon Thames,
Civic Centre 44 York Street
Twickenham TW1 3BZ

Dear Mr Summers

Twickenham Riverside Planning Application 03/1141/FUL and 03/1142/CAC

Please record my objections to the above applications. as follows: –

By failing to make use of an existing buildings these proposals miss a major opportunity to bring life and river related uses back to the site in the immediate future.

As the UDP T1 Planning document for this site states “to promote the use and enjoyment of the River and riverside through uses such as open space, cafes and restaurants.”
Full information is not available for what is proposed to build on the site after demolition. Information that is required for such proposals in a Conservation Area.

The current proposals have a 5 year duration only and will then be destroyed.The Council should state what their long term plans are. The site before being closed was in public use and should be returned to public use.

It is incomprehensible that consideration has not been given to conservation and refurbishment of the existing buildings. In terms of environment,cost and sustainability. It is a profligate Council that having land and buildings empty can afford to demolish these rentable facilities,without considering refurbishment, for the use of community organisations seeking accommodation. One community organisation is accommodated at present.

The “Challenge” has identified the need for accommodation. There is available approximately 1000 square metres of usable floor space in the building proposed for demolition. A River Centre, Swimming School, Scout accommodation, Martial arts and Youth award schemes could all be happily accommodated on this site at a fraction of any new building cost.

The cost benefits of making use of substantial existing buildings as an alternative to demolition and future new build has not been explored. An offer of refurbishment and conversion to small unit apartments has been ignored. The existing site is being fenced in and the possibility of recreational use not explored. The closure of the Richmond Ice Skating Rink resulted in a serious loss of recreational amenity in the Borough, no consideration has been given to the possibility with present day technology of incorporating such a seasonal open air facility.

This land was bought for public use and enjoyment in 1924 over the years parts have gradually been sold off for commercial and housing development. It is understood that further development for housing, limited public benefit, and disposal of the existing public toilets is planned but no information has been published.

This application is for a disappointingly mundane short term scheme a stated life of 5 years which only enables the public to access 1/4 of the site, leaving the remainder to continue decaying The front area proposals result in a unsatisfactory litter prone planted border with a path and 2 benches overlooking parked cars. Behind this will be a graffiti vulnerable retaining wall. This limited proposal for the site appears to be a stop gap to gain time for a more lucrative development schemes.

This provision for temporary public amenity consists of 8 benches, 6 in a children’s playground at higher level to the Wharf Lane side of the site. A lot of effort and cost is being put into the new defences to keep out the public from the rest of the site by means of high security screens. No open space is provided free of planted borders or play equipment where the public can enjoy the Riverside. There is no cafe or restaurant facility to bring life back to the River side. In terms of public benefit it amounts to a very expensive piece of landscaping both in its Capital cost and maintenance. It does not, given its short life amount to value for money.

No consideration has been given to the Environment Agencies requirement to protect and conserve the natural features and character of the area. To reduce the impact of the proposed demolition and landscaping on the wildlife habitat. Bird and Bat nesting and roosting sites will be disturbed and facilities for these need to be built into the proposals.

An important aspect of the site is the profusion of wild rare species of riverside plant life which merit conservation. There has been no official ecological survey to establish the known presence of protected species plants and wildlife. The community undertook such a survey which has been ignored by the Council. The alternative proposals which have already been approved facilitated the provision of a educational Bio diversity Garden on site. No details are given of the tree protection orders and the method of ensuring their protection from damage during site works.

There is no Demolition method statement provided for the scheme. Sensible safety questions of structural stability for the retaining wall after building demolition have not been addressed.

Since this planning procedure is the only public consultation allowed by the Council questions of cost and viability need to be raised. At present it is costing £50,000 per annum to keep the site closed There are additional maintenance costs estimated as £6000 to 7500 per annum with a capital cost of £480,000 making this a very expensive children’s play area. Total costs of up to £1 million over 5 years for an area of approximately 1000 sq metres, leaving the remainder of the site unused.

A community based proposal to landscape the site and retain some of the existing buildings for river related and community use has already obtained planning approval and is in keeping with the site UDP Proposals. As has been demonstrated elsewhere its cost £650,000 will provide renovation, community use and access to the whole site. Providing Cafes and Restaurant facilities on an elevated terrace. where the ground floor is available for community use. It indicated that the existing buildings could be used with sensitive renovation and make a positive contribution to the character of the conservation area, in harmony with adjoining properties.

In conclusion this site has now been closed for 20 years, the Public deserves a better proposal than this after this time. This application provides no information on long term plans, is minimal in terms of public use, lacking in proper consideration of alternative conservation possibilities and whole site use, rushed, ill conceived, and lacking in vision.

Yours sincerely

Ron Chappell C Eng.F.IStruct E.

cc GOL Audit Office

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