Coalition letter to the Tribune – Tall Buildings and Town Square, 9 April 2021

To the Editor, Twickenham & Richmond Tribune                                                 

Published 9 April 2021

Town Square and Riverside Park for Twickenham

Leaving aside some of the ill-informed remarks and assumptions made in a letter published the other week (26 March, Twickenham Riverside: The Council is Delivering), there are a few relevant comments that should not pass unnoticed.

Firstly, that letter claims that the plans of buildings in Wharf Lane and Water Lane are ‘of a massing and scale that befits this space and location’. 

There are a great many people who will not thank those who voice their support for the tall blocks of shops, flats and offices proposed by the Council – and in a Conservation Area as well.  You really need to view the Wharf Lane building from the road and gauge its full height and obtrusive mass, completely out of keeping with its surroundings.

In fact the Council dodged this question last January, not once but twice, making out the building heights are not their problem and they left it to ‘the Planners’.  So the Council intend keeping the current elevations unchanged in their planning application.  They just won’t listen.

The letter goes on to say the Wharf Lane building is not five storeys.  A Council Officer made a similar claim in relation to the Water Lane building too, at first denying it is four storeys and eventually concluding that it is ‘three storeys plus one storey in the roof’! 

The building in Wharf Lane is four storeys plus one storey in the roof then.  That equals five storeys by anyone’s calculation! 

Lastly, the claim is that the tiered amphitheatre, as the architect called it, meets the brief for a town square, a focal point for the town.  This amphitheatre / events area, with its rows of tiered seating, is bisected by a route along The Embankment for cyclists and located in a corner furthest from the town’s retail hub.

Is this a place where the local community and visitors will want to congregate, meet up and enjoy ‘communal activity’ as the Council called it?  Does this really fulfil the Council’s requirement for the town square, a focal point for people in Twickenham?

At least we are in agreement on one point.  The amphitheatre / event zone in the southernmost corner is not the focal point.   It is not the focal point of this riverside site, so how can it possibly be a focal point for Twickenham?  It does not meet the requirement for a town square because it is simply not fit for the purpose.

Richmond Council’s design brief sets out the ‘job spec’ for the architects’ design work, but the plans and designs presented by the Council in January fall far short of what was promised in their design brief.

We call for Richmond Council to pause, prepare proposals that will deliver what they said they would deliver and put them on the table for public consultation – before wasting more time, effort and money preparing a Planning Application based on an invalid and pretty worthless consultation exercise.  ‘Carry on regardless’ is not in the public interest.

Yours sincerely

The Twickenham Coalition – ‘Love our town’