Twickenham Riverside redevelopment finally entered the consultation phase this week, following years of controversy.
New images of the proposal, designed by Hopkins Architects, unveiled a pedestrianised riverside with a variety of public spaces, new businesses and residential buildings.
Leader of the Richmond Council, Gareth Roberts said: “The response we had on the consultation zoom call on Wednesday was by far the best we have had.
“People are now seeing a vision for Twickenham Riverside that they want to see delivered.”
Mick Sinclair of Richmond Cycling Campaign, which promotes economic and health benefits of walking and cycling, welcomed the progress.
He said: “The whole area will be more people friendly.”
Sinclair cited TfL research on how walking and cycling improvements could increase retail spend by up to 30% and have wider economic benefits by reducing pollution.
As a member of the Stakeholder’s Reference Group (SRG), a consultation group consisting of Twickenham organisations to ensure residents would have a say on the development of the riverside, Sinclair was invited to meet with the council about redevelopment plans.
He added: “We’ve been able to engage with them in a more meaningful manner than we were able to before.”
However, several other SRG members did not share his enthusiasm and he acknowledged how the issue of removing of the current car park has been a big struggle.
Sue Hamilton-Miller, secretary of The Twickenham Society and member of the SRG, expressed concern for businesses operating out of Eel Pie Island’s historic boatyards.
They are some of the last remaining on the Thames and rely on the current parking for deliveries and servicing.
Hamilton-Miller said: “The boatyards are crucial and must be protected.
“The council is being very reluctant to give full acknowledgement to the needs of the boatyards.”
Teresa Read, Twickenham resident and co-founder of a standup paddle-boarding club on Eel Pie Island, shared this sharp criticism.
Read said: “This council has not put the boathouses in their plan, what they’ve got is a small storage area, which is absolutely useless.
“The boathouse has sort of gone left by the wayside, completely ignored.”
Cllr Roberts said: “We have made sure that as part of redevelopment we include a loading bay directly adjacent to the bridge to enable servicemen tradespersons to be able to come and service businesses and residents on the island.”
The council is looking into creating a secondary parking zone near the riverside for Eel Pie Island residents and businesses.
The inclusion of a pub in the new designs has also been a point of contention.
Read said: “We don’t need another pub and it’s going to be near a children’s playground.”
Cllr Roberts responded: “The idea that pubs shouldn’t be attracting family audiences is a narrow and retrograde view to take.”
Due to lockdown, a question has also been raised on accessible online consultations will be for residents without computers.
Hamilton-Miller argued: “The consultation is only for people who have got computers, a lot of our members don’t have computers so I write to them and pop letters through their doors if they’re not too far away.
“The council is not bothering with them.”
Cllr Roberts disputed the claim.
He said: “If people want to call the civic centre main switchboard and give their details, we will post out copies of consultation documents and the questionnaire to look at them in the comfort of their own homes.
“If anybody knows somebody who’s in that situation, please do encourage them to get in touch.”
Featured Image Credit: Richmond Council