The primary concern of the Terrace Group is the retention of public open space on the Riverside.
The Council purchased this land in 1924 for public walks and pleasure purposes. Without this purchase there would have been no swimming pool from 1934 to 1981. Open space by the River is considered to be an asset for Twickenham.
Richmond has such an open space why not Twickenham?
The Council’s short-term scheme has been called in for a Planning Inquiry on February 11th 2004 for the following reasons:
- Whether the proposed development would prejudice proposals for the redevelopment of the former Swimming Pool site as a whole
- The relationship of the proposal to government policy advice in PPG15 and in particular whether the proposal would preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the Conservation Area and whether demolition should be permitted in the absence of acceptable and detailed proposals for redevelopment of the site as a whole
- The relationship of the proposed development to policies in the Unitary Development Plan and the emerging UDP.
The rejection by the Secretary of State Government Office for London of the Councils short term scheme for a security fenced children’s play area and some seats looking at the River is because the proposals do not meet planning guidelines, are only short term for part of the site are in a conservation area and do not give adequate information on the Council’s long term proposals for the whole of this Riverside site.
Item (3) refers to the T1 brief for the Unitary Development Plan (UDP) for the Borough, which defines in planning terms, the use of this conservation area. In 1991 The Inspectors report on the M&S Store set down certain guidelines, which in the past the Council have attempted to circumvent. It has been left to the community to cite these when fighting development proposals of a massive nature, out of keeping with the local domestic architecture, which provide only minimal Public Amenity.
The Council are at present attempting to redefine the terms of the UDP T1 Riverside Site Planning Brief in order to make it more amenable to commercial development.
The forthcoming Inquiry will consider the UDP as now proposed the existing UDP, current planning guidance and any other relevant matters.
We are relying on the Secretary of State reminding our Council of their responsibilities to make plans, and to think beyond how much they might get for selling off land that was bought on behalf of, and has long been used and enjoyed by the public.
We shall be opposing the Council’s short-term scheme at the Inquiry for the following reasons: –
- It is a lost opportunity to use the whole of the site.
- It is costly. Further expenditure in maintenance of the order of £55,000 per year will be necessary. The Council have committed over £700,000 to this project already
- It only utilises 1/3 of the site.
- It will be the only security fenced children’s playground with views of the River in the Borough.
- Most importantly it fails to provide any information on what is proposed for this site for the future.
Many are under the impression that the scheme is permanent which it certainly is not. A toilet and a café will only be included if the Council agrees to fund it.
The only definite future plan for the site that is known is that the existing Public toilets at the bottom of Water Lane are for sale.
The Council’s intimations of its long-term proposals
It is likely that the long term plans for the site will not be the subject of a public debate, The way the public will be informed is through a planning notice in the local press.
The Council are at present negotiating for a separately funded and financed public asset, known as the Twickenham Challenge, many options are floated one or none may be realised.
It is clear that the Council’s plan is to sell the site with the public asset to a developer. The preparation for this is called market testing and will cost the Council £220,000. It is apparent that the UDP is being re phrased to assist this process by enabling commercial development.
The site being that part of the Riverside Conservation area owned by the council comprising The Embankment, the Toilet block, the Pool buildings the swimming pool itself and the grounds it stands on.
Other parties own adjoining property such as King Street Parade. And the Car park behind Abbey National. The Riverside site includes Metropolitan Open Land. This includes the draw dock, the strip along the Embankment and the grassy knoll at the foot of Water Lane and part of the Toilet block land.
The Twickenham Challenge
This is to provide at no cost to the Council by means of a competition a public amenity or asset, which will take up a small area of the site. Little is known at present, but the challenge is understood to provide one of the following: –
- A Scouts facility
- A swimming school
- A museum called a River Centre
- A Duke of Edinburgh award establishment
- A Martial Arts establishment
Whatever is chosen it will be funded from outside at no cost in building or running to the Council. Its location is unknown.
The Use of Existing Buildings
The Council will not consider refurbishment or reuse of the existing buildings because their advisors said without consultation with Twickenham Riverside Terrace Group that the TRTG scheme for this was not viable. These advisors are responsible for the short-term scheme.
The TRTG scheme was not judged independently. In addition the Council’s short-term scheme has not been subject to any independent check, there is no business plan for it and no revenue assessment has been carried out or considered.
Full planning and Government Office for London permission has already been granted in 2001 for the Twickenham Riverside Terrace Group scheme. Full business plans; cash flow and revenue statements have been provided to the Council. The scheme makes use of over 900 sqm of existing floor space, enough to house all the challenge proposals.
The Council has a duty to make plans, and create positive conditions for change. It should not wait, cap in hand until someone else decides to invest in development. It is the Council’s job to direct redevelopment efforts for the good of the community. If there is no vision then blight will be perpetuated.
Support is sought from anyone who can spare time or money. Prosecuting our case will involve the cost of professional expertise.
We have a particular need for any postcards or photographs, which illustrate the Twickenham Embankment or Swimming Pool, or any river activity before or post war.