Richmond & Twickenham Green Party (R&TGP) declared its policy on the future of the Twickenham Riverside, sadly derelict for 40 years, at the Council elections in 2018.
We favoured a solution which used the whole site, was traffic and parking free as far as possible, put people first, created open space - possibly in the form of a Town Square - and would help regenerate Twickenham. We also supported an independently run architectural competition to find the best solution.
As an active but constructive opposition party we have remained engaged with the process during the life of this Council through our three councillors. Our representative on the Council’s planning committee will, as required, act independently based on his views of the evidence and information presented to the hearing.
This what R&TGP has to say about the plans
We recognise that considerable work has gone into the process, involving Councillors, Council officers and other stakeholders and that this is reflected in the detailed planning application. This has produced a scheme that we broadly welcome and support, but with suggestions for improvement and amendment.
We particularly welcome the removal of car parking and most through traffic from the Embankment. Detailed proposals for parking away from the immediate site and for deliveries and servicing for the residents and businesses in Eel Pie Island should ensure their interests are protected whilst offering a significant improvement in amenity to wider Twickenham.
Dedicating reclaimed parking space to people and combining it with the imaginative re-provision of Diamond Jubilee Gardens, opens up a large, well landscaped multi-function space in the heart of the town. While not laid out in the traditional form of a Town Square, it could, if imaginatively managed, provide those functions as a place for people to gather, socialise, be entertained, do business, exercise, play, eat, sit and relax etc. This represents a welcome shift from cars to people.
We welcome the provision of 50% “affordable housing “, although we would prefer to see this integrated with private provision within a mixed scheme. It is crucial that these properties do not become privatised.
The buildings are imaginative and of a suitable scale and mass, especially on Water Lane. The widening of Water Lane means the proposed buildings will not dominate the existing ones, will complete the street and open up views to the river, increasing the town’s connection to it.
We recognise the dilemmas involved in balancing building “up” with building “over” at the same time as being financially viable. While wanting to maintain as much surface open space as possible the possibility of lowering the height of the Wharf Lane building should be given further consideration.
We would also like to see further consideration of the use of the commercial spaces (retail, hospitality, offices), ensuring these match need in a changing world and, if possible, reinstate some of the functions of a public Winter Garden, lost from the original competition scheme.
Little reference is made to the use of sustainable building materials and heating and ventilation systems and energy provision and we wish to see that given more detailed consideration in the specification for commissioning the building contractors, post approval.
We wish to see as much planting as possible, to create shaded spaces and habitat. We recognise that some tree removal may be necessary but every effort should be made to minimise this. Where not relocatable these must be replaced with mature specimens by specified dates.
Every effort should be made to ensure that as much of the space as possible remains open for public use during construction.
We look forward to this development being completed. That is not the end though. Its success in providing something of value to the town and its residents relies on arrangements for its management that make it a vibrant and busy hub.
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