PROJECT NEWS Update 2 December 2001
Enquires from Riverside Terrace Scheme [TRT] blocked by Council
Work on the Riverside Terrace Scheme has been hampered by the Council’s Policy of dealing only with the selected partner ie the Dawnay Day developers.
To ascertain exactly the present ownership details of the site (which the Council acquired in 1924 for public use) and other matters relating to the Deeds, the TRTG, requested information and received a letter from Legal Services at the Council, refusing to supply any such further information on the grounds that ‘officers have been briefed to deal only with the selected partner’.
The TRT then wrote to the Chief Executive of the Council, Ms Gillian Norton, requesting a meeting. Ms Norton informed the TRT that she had referred the matter to Mr Hancock, the Council Officer with responsibility for the scheme (an Officer who it is understood is leaving shortly). A summary of Mr Hancock’s reply is as follows:
The Council, since it is the landowner, is proceeding with the preferred developer. Substantial Public consultation has already taken place. The proposals are designed to deliver the public benefits and assets already identified in public documents.
He goes on to claim that the proposals have been exhibited to the public via the planning process:
All members of the public are free to comment on the proposals by visiting the planning department (or Library). No publicity will be provided for any scheme other than the Dawnay Day. Council officers are employed to implement Council policy. Legal services will respond with answers when the officer returns from leave.
Despite the assurances mentioned above, the submitted Dawnay Day Planning Application fails to include the significant public benefits described in the brief as A River Pontoon and Landing Stage. However, the Council advise that these facilities are still intended. Further, with regard to Environmental improvements to the Embankment, Water Lane, and Wharf Lane, these are all described in the planning application as not essential to the development and implementation subject to funds being available.
Three acres of unique Riverside public land for £750,000?
In The Richmond & Twickenham Times 2 Nov, Cllr. Serge Lourie claimed that the Dawnay Day Development “will produce more public benefit than the value of the land, and in addition will provide at least £750,000 to be spent on projects around Twickenham.”
On behalf of the Riverside Terrace Scheme, Mr Peter Boardman challenged the so-called benefits as illusory, and went on to point out that “£750,000 is the price of a semidetached house in several parts of Twickenham, and to speak of that as a significant benefit in exchange for the development of three acres of prime riverside land is quite ridiculous.”
The value of the site to Dawnay Day can be readily calculated as one third of the sale value of the finished development. This is because developers estimate, as a rule of thumb: one third for construction costs, one third for land and one third for profit and finance costs. With 46 luxury flats, leisure club, cinema and retail areas the final value must be at least £30m, with the land therefore worth £10m.
This however is likely to be a low estimate, particularly as Riverside land allows higher residential prices and is usually worth 40% of the final value ie £12 million. The £750,000 plus the questionable benefits claimed by the Council is therefore totally out of line with the value of the land.
Twickenham Riverside Terrace: The Residents’ scheme
To ensure that this beautiful and unique riverside site does not pass from public to private use (such a change could never be reversed).
The Riverside Terrace plan, created in response to the demands of Twickenham residents, won planning approval in July. It is low key and totally in keeping with the riverside surroundings. It recycles some of the existing buildings on site; the first floor of the old pool buildings makes a large terrace with balustrade overlooking the river and the lower part is used for riverside facilities, such as a café, boat hire, information centre and public toilets.
The terrace leads onto a landscaped open park / garden, with places to sit and areas for children to play, while at the same time preserving the mature Hornbeam trees on site and incorporating new plants.
The Riverside Terrace & Garden will be Twickenham’s new heart; a place for everyone to appreciate our unique and beautiful riverside.
“Inappropriate Development of Riverside” say GLA Green Party
Mr Darren Johnson, Leader of the Green Party on the Greater London Council, visited the derelict baths site on 30 Nov, where he met representatives of the TRT.
He said “It is incomprehensible that the Liberal Democrat Council, who often trumpet their environmental credentials have chosen to promote the Dawnay Day development in preference to the residents Terrace Scheme.”
He was very supportive of the residents’ wishes and said that he hoped to raise the issue at the General Assembly in his conviction that the Mayor would be interested in such a sensitive riverside site.
Environmental Issues – not fully considered by Dawnay Day ???
Has an Environmental Impact Assessment been submitted by the developers?Has the risk of flooding, according to Directive PPG25, been fully addressed?
The site is a conservation area, but would the existing trees, especially the Hornbeams that are all protected by order, survive the extensive building and construction of the developers’ scheme?
No Guarantees for continued Public Use of Pool or Public Arts space
Richmond Council’s main public benefit argument in favour of the “commercial / residential development” of the Twickenham Riverside cannot be guaranteed, as the operator in agreement with the Council, would have the annual decision whether or not to allow limited public use of the pool and limited free community use of one of the three cinema auditoriums. The continued provision of these facilities will not be guaranteed.
With the Dawnay Day Commercial / residential scheme, the public use of the pool and cinema would be:
- The pool use would be reviewed annually. The operator could then decide, together with the Council, to change any agreed public access times and / or entrance charges.
- The pool would only be open to the public at off peak times during weekdays, and on weekend afternoons, but even this restricted arrangement has not been confirmed.
- Use of the pool by unaccompanied children is still not confirmed.
- The limited free access schedule for the cinema auditorium / public arts space would be reviewed annually. The operator could then decide, together with the Council, to change the amount of access and availability.
The Council would pay the operators of the Pool, and Cinema auditorium for the public access (in addition to pool entrance charges). The value of the payment for the public access would be factored against the lease values on the redeveloped site.
Moreover, far from being a remote outcome, present doubts on the general economy and also environmental considerations could well influence the developers to retain the structural option to convert the fitness centre, pool and cinema areas to other uses at some future date. Likewise, the retail shops could be redeveloped as luxury accommodation at a later stage if they fail to attract sufficient revenue from letting.
Handing over the ownership of the riverside to the developers and operators, with no long-term guarantees, means losing any real control of its use and access forever. And the benefits to the public would be minimal.
The wishes of the Residents can be implemented
Last month, residents of Petersham won a 125 year renewable lease on Petersham Meadows safeguarding its future against development.This was an inspiring victory for the community, the environment and for future generations. Members of the TRT committee have met Christopher Brasher, the Chairman of the Petersham Trust who said, “that it had taken ten years and a lot of hard work”.
But people in Twickenham have been working and campaigning for twenty years for our riverside site.
The crunch time is NOW to make our wishes felt, because in January the commercial development comes up for approval, and next May when there are Council elections.
Mr Brasher was quoted as saying, as he looked around at the meadow, “this really is the essence of Richmond”.
Hopefully, when we look at the Riverside site in a year’s time and say, “this really is the essence of Twickenham”, we are looking at the Terrace & Park / Garden for the residents of Twickenham and not at some intensive luxury commercial development, built on our Riverside – and given away for ever.
Actions TO BE TAKEN BY YOU NOW if you wish to keep your Riverside
If you have not already done so, object NOW to the Dawnay Day planning application of 28 Sept 2001 Ref 01/2584/FUL & 01/2583/CAC to develop the old swimming bath site on Twickenham Riverside, by letter / fax / email to:
Planning & Building Control Division
LB of Richmond on Thames, Civic Centre
44 York Street Twickenham TW1 3B
Fax No 020 8891 7702
Write to your local councillor NOW protesting against the Dawnay Day Scheme and ask him / her to support the Riverside Terrace Scheme Ref. 01/0540/FUL if you wish it to be implemented.
Encourage your neighbours / residents’ groups / local associations to do similar, and make them aware of the critical time scale, and to do something now.
Write to the editors of the Richmond and Twickenham Times and other local press voicing your opinion for and against the two schemes.
Equally important as writing to the Council is to write NOW 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:
- the Twickenham Riverside is of significant importance / benefit to everyone (not only to the immediate locality)
- the Twickenham Riverside and its historic conservation area requires sympathetic landscaping and architecture
- the Twickenham Riverside has become a matter of major regional controversy
- 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
The Planning Officer’s Report on the Terrace Scheme
The recommendation that the project receive planning permission is available here, with agreement from the author. The report is in Adobe Acrobat format and it may take a little while to download.
More information on the Twickenham Riverside Terrace can be seen on the Twickenham Rivercentre website, with the results of the consultations and residents’ letters to the Council opposing the Dawnay Day scheme.
Further letters and debate supporting the Riverside Terrace can be seen on Twickenham Online