Twickenham Riverside Terrace Group

A riverside in trust for the community

Letter to Government Office for London

Letter to Secretary of State

Government Office For London
Planning Casework N,S and W
9th Floor
Riverwalk House
157-161 Millbank London SW1 P 4RR

Dear Mr J Pierce

Twickenham Riverside Swimming Pool
Planning application 03/1142/CAC 03/1141/FUL

The Twickenham Riverside Terrace Group TRTG has already obtained planning permission to utilise existing buildings on this riverside conservation area site. Our scheme is for the whole site and involves community use of the existing buildings after refurbishment, the provision of a garden, cafés and restaurant facilities on site, with river related uses to the ground floor of the existing changing rooms. The first floor becomes a terrace overlooking the river.

It is evident from the Report submitted to the Cabinet, Richmond Council in February that expressions of support from local amenity societies/individuals for reuse of the existing buildings and expressions of interest from individuals willing to promote such schemes together with objections to the Council’s short term scheme appear to have been carefully excised from the reported summaries of the letters received by the Council from the public.

We assume the Council have made this Report (Cabinet 25/2/03) and correspondence available to you but suffice to say that on the strength of the Council’s own environment, conservation and sustainability policies the correspondence and the 3 sample letters listed below, consideration should have been given to alternative use of the existing buildings all in accordance with for instance UDP STG3.

The 3 example letters:

  1. Letter from Andreas O Sarhage:
    This is an offer to develop the present buildings
    3.2.21. The opposition to this is based on previous unspecified advice that it is “virtually inconceivable that the existing building would be retained in the context of a long term scheme”. It speaks of apparent public aspirations, the expressed view of the administration to pursue a long term scheme. The thrust of planning policies for the site. This is an offer for a long term scheme which has been ignored and not investigated, which complies with paragraphs 2.3 of the Report Principal Enabling Uses for the long term scheme will be Residential, A3 (eg restaurant/cafe uses) A1 Retail and 2.4 Further Features. Piazza and/or square Other public Benefit within the scheme.
  2. Letter from the Strawberry Hill Residents’ Association is self explanatory. The summary 3.2.6 completely ignores the objections to the short term scheme.
  3. Letter from Mr Vie Critical of the Council’s short term scheme and supportive of the TRTG scheme has not even merited a summary.

From the foregoing you will understand our concern that alternative proposals using the whole site have not been properly considered.

The irony is that the Council has embarked on a competitive process funded from the rates involving organisations needing to raise large sums of money in competition with each other for the prize of public asset on this site when there is ample accommodation for several organisations in a refurbished building on site.

For the Council to spend £1/2 million to promote its own short term option for 5 years with no guarantee for the future, the majority of the site closed to the public with a security fence is a stopgap measure and has nothing to do with public aspirations for the site.

The Council has appointed advisors and could spend up to another £1.4 million on preliminary work for the next 5 years to put in place a developer on the apparent understanding that this will be funded from the profit from the sale, fails to provide any benefit from an existing site.for at least 5 Years, and has no guarantee then of a successful outcome.

Conservation renovation, sustainability, ethical policies, environmentally friendly are all phrases in the vocabulary of the Council ignored when expedient. No consideration been taken of the huge cost of new building on this site relative to the refurbishment cost of the existing buildings.

Advising the present administration are the same advisors who co-operated for years with the previous Council administration to promote the massive development schemes with Council backing of Alsop Zogolovitch and Dawnay Day. They have advised the Council on our proposals and there appears to be a conflict of interest in the fact that they are also responsible for the Councils short term scheme 03/1141/FUL.

We are currently seeking detailed planning permission which will enable use of facilities such as a cafe and restaurant on site. The use by the community of the open space and the use of the existing refurbished buildings.

The possibility of renovation and use of the existing buildings has not been considered in any report over the last two decades despite the Council’s own planning policies to encourage this. We therefore ask that the Secretary of State requests Richmond Council to properly address and independently report on the feasibility of a return to public use of this existing Riverside amenity site together with community use of its existing buildings and open space.

Yours sincerely
Ron Chappell
For and on behalf of the Twickenham Riverside Terrace Group.

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