Anger over latest plans for redevelopment of Twickenham Riverside

The latest plans put forward by Richmond Council for the development of Twickenham Riverside have been met with disapproval from residents.

In a Zoom call the council presented their revised plans to the unanimous disapproval of the Stakeholder Reference Group (SRG), a consultation group consisting of Twickenham organisations to ensure residents would have a say on the development of the riverside.

The SRG feel their concerns have been ignored.

Former teacher and Twickenham resident Teresa Read said: “I did not see any concessions.

“This is not what people want.”

The development of Twickenham Riverside has been in dispute since 1980 when the popular lido on the site was closed for refurbishment and never reopened.

Developments have been drawn out since 2019 when Richmond Council commissioned the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) to deliver a design competition to find the best proposal for the site.

The RIBA brief stipulated that designs ‘should champion green over grey’.

The SRG was shocked to discover how much the winning designs have been altered.

Sue Hamilton-Miller, secretary of The Twickenham Society, said: “The plans we are now looking at are not the same as the plans that won the competition the RIBA competition.

“They have removed the winter gardens which was a very popular part of the plan.”

The majority of the designated public space consists of land which cannot be developed as it is situated on the embankment which floods regularly.

The current plans appear to go against the Leader of Richmond Council, Gareth Roberts’ tweets as he called for a ‘park not a car park’ on the riverside.

Under current plans the car park is destined to be turned into a pedestrian zone, unloading bay and parking for lorries.

The provision of public facilities have largely been ignored, such as the popular idea for a lido on the riverside which appears to have dried up despite a petition of over 4,600 signatures calling for its reinstatement.

On these latest developments, Read said: “They won’t have one. They will never, never give in and have a lido.”

Whilst other ideas promoted by the SRG such as the provision of a boat house are being ‘explored’ these do not feature on the plans.  

In February, Councillor Roberts said: “We have listened to residents along the way. Not just holding the much-requested design competition, but also their views on the proposals that were submitted.”

Despite this the SRG have protested that they are being ignored.

Hamilton-Miller commented: “They keep fobbing us off.”

“They said they are being transparent and they haven’t been.

“We are always having to play catch up, they will present us with plans a flash on the screen and its only later that we realise what they’ve done.”

The Hopkins Architects design won the bid with its multiple public spaces, mix of business and residential buildings and for its community focus.

Read commented: “The proposals felt like a community hub. Now there’s nothing for Twickenham residents.”

The council have said they are committed to the current designs and have implemented a ‘design freeze’ implying that the revised scheme cannot be altered, consequently the SRG fear not much can be done.

Hamilton-Miller added: “It’s a panic from the council leader he is telling his council officers you have got to go ahead.

“Whatever happens, but if he does not take the stakeholders with him then he will be in deep trouble.”

Hopes to develop the riverside into an area that incorporates resident’s wishes may now be water under the bridge.

Read added: “The thing about Twickenham Riverside is that you never know.”

Featured Image: Credit Richmond Council

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