view from king street

“This meets virtually none of the public’s wishes for the area. It does not provide the promised
town square on King Street, nor a square by the river. It does not open up the town to the
river and cuts off the river related activities by putting a loading bay across the slipway which
is used to launch many activities. It removes facilities needed by Eel Pie Island for its day to
day running.”

Well, the residents had their say regarding the Council’s plans for regenerating the Twickenham riverside, and it wasn’t very pretty. In fact, every single question’s response was overwhelmingly negative — 92% of surveys were against the proposal. Most of the comments were around the overly commercial nature of the plans, the lack of real community open space and lack of link to the river. However, the Council is putting a brave face on the results saying they will take on board the criticism and come back in the summer with another consultation.

Riverside now we respond to the feedback

Over 3,000 people took part in a consultation for a new heart for Twickenham, proposed by the Council’s preferred architect, Quinlan Terry.

The consultation was online, but also, innovatively, in a pop-up shop in Church Street, which was open for five weeks. The Council and the architects will now carry out a detailed review of the ideas and comments put forward by the public before coming forward with ideas for development.

The concepts focused on replacing the current underused private car park and run-down and unattractive buildings. The proposed a new heart for the town that would serve to draw people to the river and to the Diamond Jubilee Gardens. The initial Terry ideas would make the riverside ‘carless’ extending the park to the water’s edge, improve the link between Diamond Jubilee Gardens and the embankment and create two large new community spaces. All the space at ground level would also be open for public use.

Over 2,400 visited the shop, discussing their thoughts with staff, councillors and the architects from Quinlan and Francis Terry. Of these, 700 filled in a questionnaire.

Residents put forward views for and against, as well as suggesting modifications. Main areas of concern where further work will focus included parking, the need for a clearer single open space or square, the visibility of the ‘river view’ from King Street and scale of the development. Advocates of modernist architecture, in particular, opposed Quinlan Terry, the designers of Richmond’s famous Riverside

Positive comments include the removal of the present buildings, the proposed link from King Street to the River, the quality of the architectural ideas, including, the riverside ‘amphitheatre’, the strengthened relationship to the award-winning Diamond Jubilee Gardens, and the additional open space.

Inline with the original timeline for the programme, that was included in the consultation, the architects are now working with this feedback to further develop their design – looking at each of the main areas residents and businesses highlighted.

At the same time, a number of studies will be carried out, looking at traffic, flooding and financial viability of any proposal.

A second consultation on the amended designs and feedback from the studies will be launched in the summer.

Cllr Pamela Fleming, Richmond Council Cabinet Member for Environment, said:

“I am delighted that so many people have shown an interest in designing a new heart for our town. The Terry proposals have sparked a lively debate and we now need to carry forward the dialogue with the community.

“We understand that we need to reconsider our approach to a number of areas – including parking, widening Water Lane and improved community space. That is what we are now doing.

“However, we do need to be clear that any proposal must be financially viable. We are in a very different world than five years ago. Council funding has declined. So any development on this site must have an element of business and residential.

“I want us to all work together to make this work. To create a building and development that local people can be proud of. Something that will stand the test of time and will still be magnificent in 20 years’ time. A development that will bring in new business and attract visitors.

“I hope that over the next few months, whilst our conversations with local groups, businesses and organisations continue, people work with us constructively throughout our journey to create a new ’heart for Twickenham.”

— from a Richmond Council press release 29 January 2016

What do you think?