Letter from Martin Stearman to the Editor RTT and Twickenham Online
10 November 2003
Where is the Council’s vision for Twickenham Riverside? Is there one?
Richmond upon Thames Council, by means of the long drawn out and faint-hearted attitude to improving the riverside, and its proposed modifications to the UDP and the revised planning brief for the pool site, are seeking to separate the Riverside site from the surrounding area and in particular, the King Street properties and improving Twickenham town centre.
There seems to be a failure on their part to see that the solutions for the improvement of the Twickenham town centre are to be found in having an integrated, overall vision. Bringing small changes together could create a better environment for all.
The effect of the Council’s approach on the pool site is to force up the amount of development needed so that it may become viable in its own right. This approach will mean too many buildings, and miss the benefit to be had from bringing forward the development of adjacent sites, which could then make a contribution to the Pool site and the town centre.
Clearly the best chance to get a substantive area for public use on the riverside is to include the wider area within an overall urban design brief.
If the rear of King Street were to be developed on the basis that there would be clear views across the pool site to the River, the value of the new development would be higher, and as a consequence a contribution to the cost of regenerating the pool site could be considered.
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.
What we need is a less piecemeal approach to the achievement of the regeneration of the the town centre and of King Street in particular. Shifting the centre of the development focus to the King Street properties would free up the potential for open space and community use on the pool site, and enable the achievement of many of the key criteria of the Thameside Strategy, and the Twickenham & Queens Road Conservation Area Study.
These points and others were made to the UDP Inspector recently.
Let us hope that the Secretary of State will remind 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.