This public open space by the River Thames is the envy of any riverside Borough throughout this nation. It seems like only yesterday the Community were fighting off a developer who wanted to build 44 flats an underground fitness and Cinema complex with many style bars at ground level all in the name of enabling development. But that was before the environment became a buzzword.
As the information seeps out from the current Council’s Consultants Options meetings it begins to be evident that time has wrought little change. The brief to the Councils chosen Environmental Consultants has resulted in enabling development of 18 houses or 44 flats, far greater than that required to finance a basic shell building for the River Centre. The existing playground/café are not defined, public open space, including that existing at the foot of Water Lane is under threat by reason of an elaborate road system, to suit the housing.
The price in community terms is too high.
It appears to be a catch all, for years of neglect and expenditure. Expenditure over years on consultants. Neglect of the Embankment neglect of the site, and community.
No question as to whether a River Centre and this housing development is what the community wants. At the end is the prospect of a profit in the Councils coffers. Another piece of vital green space lost to the public. For this site, this has been going on for years. This time round it has a new excuse in the name of the environment and a new catch phrase exemplar sustainability.
No concern for the future, no concern or care for the next generation. There could exist on this site enjoyment of the River Thames by open space available for community activities. Activities such as open air skating, farmers markets, exhibitions, marquees, theatre groups, open air art. Open space once built on can never be recovered. Development on this scale is environmentally unsound and far from sustainable.
The paradox is evident the Leader of the Council wishes to make Richmond the greenest Borough, while at the same time building a River Centre, 18 houses or 44 flats on public open space. The Council also claim that in order to be able to limit the amount of building to these figures there will be no social housing.
Paradoxically The Environmental Trust for Richmond can have avowed green credentials and concern for the environment while at the same time build a River Centre on Public Open Space, and in order to do that build with equanimity 18 houses or 44 flats. It is evident that any environmental concern has been forgotten provided that it can be preached in its own new building at public expense.
The Environmentally sound alternative. This nonsense must cease, expenditure of the order of £160,00 in 6 months, in order to work out the best way of not upsetting a developer. This could have been spent on renewal to green of the first 25% of the existing boarded site. Conservation work and the sort of renewal that the Environmental Trust judging from their publicity would be proud to undertake.
There are existing buildings on site that can be used. The ET could as a start renovate and use one of these, nobody will think any the less of their River Centre if it made such sensible use for an existing building, fund raising can go on. Council’s Town Centre Management says there is a need for measures to bring people into Twickenham. Open space by the River as in Richmond is the answer for minimal cost. There are even proper toilets waiting for renovation. Public open space means that an community asset is used and not lost for all time.
This is environmental work in the true meaning of conservation, the Councils green Consultants should understand this. Conservation is a bigger challenge, than building on open space, but could result in no profit for the Council, there’s the rub. Twickenham by making use of what it already has, poses a challenge for this Council to listen and learn, speak to the users of the existing playground and Café, they are a representative cross section of the community for now and the future, Mums and Dads, Grandparents and children. They wish to keep this open space and extend it in area. If this Council is inhibited by reasons of financial gain from heeding what the community wants, then the conclusion follows that this Council no longer represents the community, but itself.