Twickenham Riverside Terrace Group

A riverside in trust for the community

The Real Twickenham Challenge: accommodation already available

Interesting to note that the Richmond upon Thames Council is proposing to destroy the existing Twickenham Riverside Swimming Pool changing rooms in order to provide 2 seats, a raised pathway, hard landscaping and planting.

At the same time it has had several organisations wishing to provide facilities under the banner of the Twickenham Challenge.

The latest count is 5 from swimming to museums to martial arts, the Scouts and Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme. All excellent proposals, all will be competing for one new building which under the rules will occupy 15 to 20% of the site: a building the size of the existing pool.

In the meantime for 5 years our Council will spend £480,000 on the raised pathway and a children’s playground with a new security fence round the rest of the site.

At present the maintenance of this site costs £50,000 per year. This expenditure will continue, in addition the long term scheme has around £200,000 allocated to it for advice and publicity before anything gets built. £680,000 for a fenced off site, a children’s playground and a book of rules.

In addition the 5 challengers will have to endeavour to raise the money to build their chosen accommodation, so that one can win.

This crazy state of affairs comes about because the inability to realise that if existing buildings exist the sensible thing to do is to use them. In the best tradition of conservation, refurbish adapt conserve ethical green policies and much more of a challenge to all the building professions than new build.

Make use of what is already there: all 5 organisations could be housed in existing buildings on site, money saved in building costs, not to mention reports, security fencing, lighting and its daily maintenance.

The TRTG scheme proposed this and was rejected on cost £650,000 and risk. So the alternative is fine words, a 5 year playground and limited work for £680,000.

No proper public discussion or use of the site — only reports, rule books and continued expenditure to keep this public amenity closed. The same story for the past 20 years money spent on proposals schemes and reports. The real challenge was there but unfortunately the will had gone.

Think back to the days when this Council had the guts to build its own swimming pool because the people wanted one. Today it cannot even let it become open space and used by all those organisations who are providing a service to the community but can find funds to keep it closed.

Ron Chappell
Twickenham

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