I am an architect and landscape designer with many years’ experience of canal and riverside projects. I presented the Terrace Group scheme to the planning committee in July 2001. I have taken a keen interest but have not been directly involved in the scheme’s development since.
I do not propose to dwell here on my complaint to the Chief Executive about the inaccurate and biased nature of the report on this Agenda Item. My comments relate to the recommendation to proceed with Short-Term Option B.
Although presently neglected and abused, the pool building is a public resource capable of economic adaptation to accommodate a range of uses appropriate to its riverside location. Demolition would squander the resource and prejudice alternative short and long-term proposals for its use that could form part of the Twickenham Challenge. The Terrace Group scheme makes good use of part of the building.
River-related uses such as small boat hire, repair and storage which require inexpensive premises close to the river are excluded from Short-Term Option B. Demolishing the pool building undermines the feasibility of accommodating such uses in the future, contrary to the objectives of the Thames Landscape Strategy. The Terrace Group scheme makes provision for river related uses.
Two seats raised 1 metre and set 7 metres back from the pavement, and two seats behind a planted 2.4 metre high fence would not provide much improved views of the river. Better views are available from existing seats on the embankment. The raised terrace in the Terrace Group scheme would provide excellent views of the river.
Being set back from the embankment and surrounded by planting, the seating area in Short-term Option B would be secluded and gives cause for concern about how it would be used. The raised terrace in the Terrace Group scheme enjoys all-round visibility.
Short-term Option B needs planning permission, Conservation Area Consent and approval from GOL, which could be delayed or unforthcoming. The Terrace Group scheme already has planning permission and could start to be implemented immediately.
The reports to Cabinet have failed to identify the benefits or costs of retaining the ground floor of the pool building and implementing parts A and B of the Terrace Group scheme.
The reports to Cabinet have failed to reconcile the divergence between cost estimates prepared by the Council’s and Terrace Group’s consultants in respect of the Terrace Group scheme. A reconciliation is necessary because there is a conflict of interest in the Council’s consultants advising on the costs of a competing scheme.
The reports to Cabinet have failed to compare the costs and benefits of implementing short-term option B with parts A and B of the Terrace Group scheme. Without such a comparison Cabinet cannot reach a properly informed decision.
I urge Cabinet to request a report that addresses these issues before reaching its decision on this matter.