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Residents backlash to proposed Twickenham Film Studios redevelopment

A resident group has threatened to pull its backing from a £15million expansion and redevelopment of the historic Twickenham Film Studios.

The development includes a new flagship building, café, bar, boutique cinema and TV studio with audience seating.

Initial responses to a planning application for the scheme were overwhelmingly positive, and the scheme was expected to win council approval in the next few weeks.

The Barons Residents Association, which speaks on behalf of people living in the streets surrounding the studios in St Margarets, was positive.

It stated: “We welcome this improvement project and the value to the community in respect of jobs and keeping our high street vibrant, which will be welcome especially after this covid period.”

However, this same group has now threatened to withdraw its support for the scheme unless concerns around extra traffic and need for parking that may be created by the new TV studio and live audiences who will visit the area.

The group is also concerned about the operation and hours of the new café and bar facilities.

The proposed studio lot includes a café, viewing theatre, and a studio for a live audience. Credit – Twickenham Studios

A spokesperson for The Baron Residents’ Association said: “The council is well aware of the problems that have arisen over the issue of parking in The Barons and Kelvin Drive, and it would appear that this application will exacerbate this.

“At most 60-70 cars could be expected to be present in the area in the worst case. This increase in car volume on our narrow streets is unsustainable.

“The plan fails to take into consideration the chaos that will ensue by drivers locating the nearest parking spot which is of course The Barons and Kelvin Drive. This will undoubtedly lead to both congestion and illegal parking.

“TBRA would like to know the future plans for The Lounge – cafe bar -and in particular confirmation that the terrace will close at 21.00hrs and hence there will be no outdoor socialising and drinking after this time which has been the agreement to date.

“Should our reservations not be resolved we may well feel obliged to remove out support to the application in its current form.”

Twickenham Film Studios said their managing director, Cara Sheppard, and Development Director Tim Gee, have been in regular contact with the Residents Association.

A spokesman said: ‘We have long held a strong, close, open communication relationship with all local residents. Being a positive part of the local community is very important to Twickenham Film Studios and all the team here.

“We have long been a creative part of the community for the last 100 years and look positively to the future encouraging more film projects and creative opportunities in the area. We encourage a very open approach to all comments and feedback.

“We have been fully aware of any concerns raised by the association and have addressed all concerns raised.”

The studios can trace their history back to 1913 and were at one time the biggest film production facilties in the country, responsible for many classic films ranging from Hard Day’s Night, featuring The Beatles, through to Oscar-winning Bohemian Rhapsody and the hit Netflix drama Enola Holmes, starring Millie Bobbie Brown.

The proposed new block is designed to reflect the building at the original entrance to Twickenham Film Studios which burned down many decades ago and is now just an empty space.

The site suffered a major fire in 1935 and a direct hit in a World War II bombing raid.

The Studio used to have a presence on the high-street. Credit – Twickenham Studios

Featured image credit – Twickenham Studios

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