While enjoying the new playground, café and toilets on part of the Twickenham Pool Site many of you took part in our letter campaign for the increased and permanent public use of the whole of the Twickenham Pool Site.
This has been an undoubted success. We are now about to follow this up with a request to each of the political parties for their plans for this important amenity site.
Your letter and over 100 others were each sent to the Leader of the Council, the two Council Officers concerned, T Pugh Director of Environment and R Angus Development Control Manager as well as each of the three ward Councillors representing the address of each sender. From the standard letter which you received in reply from Cllr Arbour you will be aware of the statements on the importance of public open space and that the Council has made it clear that this would be an important element of any scheme. You will also be aware of the planning brief T1 for the Twickenham Pool Site which was enclosed with the letter. This brief refers to housing,cafés,and possible retail.
What is not made clear in Cllr Arbour’s letter is that the current Stage 1 of the Council’s plans, comprising the existing playground and café with toilets, has planning permission only until June 2009. Therefore, unless the residents of Twickenham make it clear to the Council that they wish otherwise, the present facilities will be removed for ever.
There is also the Council’s published strategy which says that the long term proposal will include commercial development- because that is what will finance the regeneration of the site as well as important environmental improvements in the locality. The TRTG suggests that the regeneration is feasible without commercial development, The present playground, café and other landscape amenity were financed out of Council funds. Together with the Challenge this already accounts for 45% of the site. The remaining can be public open space.
What must now be ensured is positive action to implement the community facilities and ensure that the public open space is not just an element, but is the main thrust of the final scheme.
What is also not made clear is what the present Council proposals are for Stage 2 for the site. This is the so called ‘Twickenham Challenge’ which earmarks 15 to 20% of the whole site for an outside body to provide a community facility at no cost to the Council for a peppercorn rent. The final development of the whole site based on the T1 brief will in turn have to accommodate The Twickenham Challenge which was supposed to have been settled last summer from the then four applicants, but inexplicably this has been delayed.
If you care about the future of Twickenham Pool site and wish for permanent public use of the whole site, including a children’s play area, we ask you to assist us in this aim by writing to the present Council and also question all the other political parties on this matter before the forthcoming Council elections in May.
By doing this you can ensure that promises, statements and commitments made by the candidates are honoured and that their plans for the site are fully and openly discussed.
Every candidate should be reminded that, in 1924, a community minded Council took the decision to purchase this riverside area of Twickenham for public walks and pleasure purposes. And, further, it is our duty as residents to keep its public open space use inviolate, particularly when every conceivable piece of the banks of the Thames is being commandeered for commercial purposes.