ACTIONS REQUIRED BEFORE 28TH FEBRUARY
Developers revise scheme into two phases – new strategy
The Dawnay Day planning application was revised on the 4th February. It comprises a new 29-page Supplementary Planning Statement. The most significant factor in this is the proposal to phase the work so that the building work flats, fitness centre, cinema, are Phase 1 and the environmental works are Phase 2. It is now possible for there to be 95% restaurants and bars on the site ground floor. This new planning strategy by the developers gets over their problems of sorting out the parking and the provision of certain public amenities such as the toilets, pontoon and landscape works which actually comprise most of the public asset.
Everyone who wrote to the Council planning office objecting to the original plans should have been already notified in writing of this revision. It is understood that the rules provide for a period of 21 days for replies to be made objecting to the new proposals. Therefore, to meet the scheduled decision date of 28 Feb, everybody who objected first time round should have been notified by 7 Feb.
If not, then take it up NOW with:
Mr David Barnes
Planning & Building Control Division
LB of Richmond on Thames, Civic Centre
44 York Street Twickenham TW1 3B
Fax No 8891 7702
The Council’s Planning department is currently preparing its report and recommendations on the revised Dawnay Day Application. The Council has scheduled a meeting of its Development Control Sub-Committee for 28th February to make the decision on this application. If approved, the Council will sign a private contract with Dawnay Day Structured Finance Ltd, their preferred partner. By not seeking the highest price by going out to public tender, the public benefit claimed in this scheme would need to be shown to be equal to the land value.
However, the Application can be called in before this date by The Secretary of State who would then set up a public enquiry, as was done in 1991 for an earlier planning proposal. Many residents as individuals and as groups have written to the Secretary of State requesting he call it in. One of the joint requests has been supported in its documentation by signatories from The Conservative and Labour Leaders on the Council, the Green Party, The Twickenham Society, and The River Thames Society.
We would urge anyone concerned about the future of the Twickenham riverside to write without delay to The Secretary of State:
Requesting that this planning application 01/2584/FUL and 01/2583/CAC be called in to be determined by his Department on the basis that:
(a) the Twickenham Riverside is of significant importance / benefit to everyone (not only to the immediate locality)
(b) the Twickenham Riverside and its historic conservation area requires sympathetic landscaping and architecture
(c) the Twickenham Riverside has become a matter of major regional controversy
(d) Development may be in conflict with national policies on important matters
Letters, Emails, and Faxes should be addressed to:
The Secretary of State for Environment, Transport and the Regions
Government Office for London (Planning Casework N, S&W)
Riverwalk House 9th Floor
London SW1P 4RR
Fax 020 72173471
THIS NEW REVISION TO THE DEVELOPERS’ SCHEME MAKES IT MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER TO WRITE TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE
IF YOU HAVE NOT DONE SO, PLEASE DO IT NOW BEFORE THE 28TH FEB
TWISTING THE TRUTH
The Council has claimed that their current proposals are based on extensive consultation with local amenity groups. There were indeed three working parties, two of which prepared comprehensive recommendations to the Council for the development of the riverside. (The third working party was wound up before it could deliver its report.) But their efforts have been largely ignored, as have the basic plans and agreed brief. The present provision of 46 flats and the density of the buildings are even greater than the earlier Alsop Zogolovitch scheme, which was rejected as overbuilding the site.
The Lib Dem leader on the Council Serge Lourie’s claim that “the council plans were entirely based on these consultations” has been publicly repudiated by the chairmen of the working parties which did report.
THE COUNCIL’S PLAN
Most people who are concerned about the fate of the Twickenham riverside will be aware that the Council’s intention is to award the site to a property development company, Dawnay Day Structured Finance Ltd, and to grant them permission to erect four blocks of four and five stories including forty six apartments of some 4000 sq metres with private gardens and exclusive parking, and 2000 sq metres of retail premises, and another 3000 sq metres for a private fitness club, its pool, and an arts cinema. If planning permission is granted, the property developers will probably sell on the site to a building group – THUS MAKING MILLIONS AND MILLIONS OF POUNDS FROM THE LAND.
On previous unsuccessful developers scheme, advisors to the Council cautioned: “Funding of the scheme is a particularly important issue as it not only affects the cost of borrowing to develop the scheme but also the investment yields, the Developers profit and ultimately, the viability of the scheme and value of the Council’s land interest.
As the funder is often the end purchaser of the scheme from the developer the funder effectively becomes the third partner to the transaction. It is therefore essential to ensure that the best funding party is selected both in terms of securing best value and the successful implementation of the scheme.”
Nothing is known of the third party to the current proposed deal, the funder, on who so much depends! Yet, Dawnay Day Structured Finance Ltd, the Council’s preferred partner, is now applying for planning permission on the 28 February.
AND WE GET IN RETURN?
A few carrots, such as paying to use the pool of a private members fitness club which will be available only on weekdays for community use, school parties, OAP swimming sessions, ladies only swimming, family swimming etc. from 10am to 12am and 2pm to 5pm. Paying entry admission to an underground art cinema, and the community use of one of its screens for limited periods. The majority of the receipt from the sale of the public land will be used to pay for the building and the use of these carrots.
The lease is for 125 years. Are we prepared to wait for more than a hundred years to get our Public Trust land back, but even before then, what happens when the owners of the luxury flats apply for their freeholds?
And as a final sweetener, the developers are proposing to pay the Council a one-off sum of £750,000 for the site (not much more than the cost of one semi detached house in some parts of the Borough) or not much less than the expected price of just one of the 46 flats which they will build on the site. With such planning permission, the site has a value certainly in excess of £12 million
WHO ARE WE?
We are residents from across the Borough with one aim: TO KEEP THE TWICKENHAM RIVERSIDE AS PUBLIC LAND. We represent the local community that does not want the land to go to developers for the building of 46 luxury flats and associated commercial use. For this purpose we have obtained planning permission to transform the area into a riverside park and gardens, utilising part of the existing structure to form a terrace overlooking the river. The site would thus retain its use for public leisure and entertainment, and could be used also for open-air activities such as theatre, music, and even outdoor skating in the winter. The last of which could partly compensate for the Council’s decision some years ago, which resulted in the Richmond Ice Rink being replaced by luxury flats. Occasional events such as farmers markets could be staged in front of the terrace. Amenities would be housed in arches under the terrace. THIS PLANNING APPROVED SCHEME MEANS THAT THE RIVERSIDE WOULD BE KEPT IN PUBLIC OWNERSHIP IN PERPETUITY FOR YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN TO ENJOY
YOU BE THE JUDGE
A fair indication of the value of the site can be readily made by comparison with another riverside site, the Three Pigeons Pub site in Richmond. It was sold on the open market two years ago for £3.75 million, and with a 10% increase in land values since then, it would be now be worth more than £4 million.
The Three Pigeons site is currently being built with 14 apartments on it, whereas the Twickenham Riverside is planned to have 46 apartments of 4000 sq m plus 2000 sq m of retail and catering units, plus another 3000 sq m for the fitness club and its pool, and a further 2000 sq m of cinema. Even allowing for a possible difference in the apartment sizes, it is evident that a figure of £12 million is a very conservative estimate for the value of the Twickenham site.
LOSS OF PARKING
Parking in central Twickenham is difficult enough at the moment, but it will get very much worse, as the developers scheme will do away with some 80 spaces presently available on the embankment, and this is on top of the 50 spaces which were lost when the adjacent car park in Water Lane was sold. So, far from encouraging people to come to Twickenham, they will find it more difficult, especially families and the elderly wishing to enjoy the riverside. Yes, there may be some parking under the block of apartments, but of course this will be exclusively designated for owners of the flats and shop staff.
With Council elections taking place on 2nd May of this year, it is quite wrong for the incumbent Council to make a decision on such an important planning application, with which it has been so closely associated, for the future of Twickenham and its Riverside. It is even more inappropriate to try and push this through in its last few weeks of tenure. All residents should have the opportunity to raise this matter with their local Councillors, and then vote accordingly.
We are completely non-political, with no political axe to grind, and with only one aim: to demand that the Council, whatever its politics, KEEPS OUR RIVERSIDE FOR US and does not betray the trust handed to it by earlier Councils.