Twickenham Riverside – What does the majority want?

(Coalition letter to the Tribune, 21 May 2021)

To the Editor, Richmond & Twickenham Tribune

The present scheme promoted by Richmond Council has attracted many elaborate claims.  Richmond Council are delivering what the majority of Twickenham residents have requested, the majority of Twickenham residents are very happy with this really excellent scheme and the Council deserve our congratulations and support.  But what is fact and what is opinion? 

Are the Council’s proposals what the majority of residents really want?

Take the claim in a letter from Ben Makins last week that, after the Liberal Democrats were elected in 2018, this Council had the strongest mandate in 40 years to take this project forward.  That cannot be taken literally.  The project proposed by the Council was not in any defined form until 2021. 

True, the Council did make promises on what they would deliver, promises you can find in the project requirements set out in the design brief.  This was produced in 2019 by the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Council’s Design Panel.

The design brief is really important because it is the ‘job spec’ for the architects in designing this development.  Helpfully, the Council prioritised the requirements in the design brief, including certain ‘must have’ features.  Not just ‘could’ or ‘should’, but ‘must’.

An important point mentioned by the letter’s author is the petition with approaching 3,000 signatories, under the title ‘A Town Square and Riverside Park for Twickenham’.  A town square has indeed been called for by residents in consultations and workshops going back at least ten years – a place for everyday community activities, where people can meet and socialise, a place for occasional open air events and exhibitions.

The town square’s importance is also recognised in the design brief.  It is a ‘must have’ feature as (quote) ‘a focal point for the town’ and so, presumably, in a prominent location.  But where is it? 

The council’s officers ‘suggested’ it might be the amphitheatre with tiered seating for occasional performance events in a corner of the site, but they weren’t sure.  That is a very sad reflection on our town square, a focal point for Twickenham, a ‘must have’ feature that will help draw people into the town and boost the local economy.

The Council have not delivered the town square or many of the other ‘must have’ elements they promised to deliver in the Twickenham Riverside development.  The Twickenham Coalition puts the spotlight on the flaws in their proposals so that the people of Twickenham can see for themselves where the proposals fall short and make up their own minds whether they support the Council’s plans.

People don’t need someone else to tell them what they want.

Yours sincerely

The Twickenham Coalition

‘Love our town’