Diamond Jubilee Gardens redevelopment given go-ahead despite council not owning lease

Richmond Council’s Planning Committee voted unanimously last week to approve the redevelopment of Twickenham’s Diamond Jubilee Gardens, land which it does not currently own.

The Twickenham Riverside Trust was granted a 125-year lease on a substantial part of the Diamond Jubilee Gardens in 2014 which the scheme is seeking to develop.

Lord Nicholas True, the council’s leader at that time granted the Trust the lease.

He said: “It was in perpetuity for the people, so that never again can any other council come forward with a plan to sell the Gardens off to a developer”.

However, the current council launched a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) in 2021 to allow development to take place in the garden, which is by the riverside in Twickenham

At the Planning Committee, Ted Cremin, 47, Chair of Twickenham Riverside Trust, along with four other trust members spoke out in opposition to the scheme.

He said: “Just eight years ago, right here the council granted the Diamond Jubilee Gardens to the public on a 125-year lease.

“Now, this council want to bulldoze it, destroying 23 established trees, to erect a five storey, 21-metre-tall Wharf Lane building just 10m from the river’s edge.”

Left Photo Credit: C Hopkins. Right Photo Credit: Twickenham Riverside Trust

Councillor Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, said: “This is the next step in delivering something that residents have been asking for 40 years.

“Currently the site is dominated by a car park that doesn’t allow people to make the most of the river or to enjoy the beautiful riverside vistas.”

The trust supports the council’s plan to develop and rejuvenate the derelict areas neighbouring the gardens, including the removal of parking along the Embankment between Water and Wharf Lanes.

Cremin explained: “The removal of the car parking was approved two years ago, and the council already own the derelict land – we’ve never objected to that part of the development, we object to the Wharf Lane building.

“Millions of the public’s money went into opening the Jubilee Gardens in 2012 and the development will destroy a much-loved children’s playground, 23 mature trees and 100 metres of native hedgerow.

“Getting it done is no excuse for getting it wrong.”  

Currently, the trust run a number of events in the gardens each year including festivals, literary events and dog shows.

Dog Show and Jazz Festival held at Twickenham’s Diamond Jubilee Gardens Photo Credit: Twickenham Riverside Trust

Greenwood Nurseries is one of several nurseries who use the gardens on a weekly basis and would be saddened by its closure, forcing them to relocate.

Trustee Janine Fotiadis-Negrepontis said in the meeting: “Our riverside will be so heavily constrained by overdevelopment that the green gains associated with the scheme can only ever exist on paper within this council’s own greenwashed reports.

“This scheme goes against national, London-wide and local policies and makes a mockery of this council’s green agenda and declared climate emergency.” 

Aside from the huge environmental impact of the scheme, Cremin said part of the space the council is proposing they use instead is located in the flood plain.

Last week, the trust launched a petition to save the gardens which received more than 2,500 signatures.

Cremin told the committee: “While the trust is disappointed with the result, we are inspired by the overwhelming public support to continue to protect and enhance public open space on the riverside. 

“In just one week, more than 2,500 people have signed our petition, nine times more than have supported the council’s scheme on the planning portal in 12 months.”

The trust are seeking a public enquiry on the CPO which will take place next June. 

Featured Image Credit: Twickenham Riverside Trust

Related Articles