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Sunday 14th April
Saving Twickenham Riverside

THE HISTORY OF THE TWICKENHAM RIVERSIDE SITE

bought by the Council in 1924 for the purpose of providing "public walks and pleasure grounds"




Twickenham Riverside 1980 - 2000
In 1980, while under a Conservative administration which lasted until 1983, Twickenham Baths were suddenly and unexpectedly closed for “refurbishment” and never opened again. You can read and hear people’s memories which were recorded by the REIC at www.lidosalive.com.

It is interesting to note that in January 1982 the Council’s Planning Committee Minutes recorded that the Council’s view was there should be no housing development on the site.

In 1991, whilst there was a Liberal Democrat administration, a scheme was put forward for a Marks & Spencer store but permission was refused following the intervention of the Department of the Environment and a Public Enquiry in 1991 – “Commercial ambitions were to be kept subordinate.” (reference:Twickenham Museum).

In 1996 the Council held a competition for plans for the Twickenham Riverside site. There were five schemes and it was hoped that there might be some Lottery funding but this was refused.

1999 saw a proposal for the Twickenham Riverside site for thirty-nine flats, six restaurants, shops, an auditorium for over four hundred and fifty people, three cinemas and very limited parking. This was considered to be “over development” and following public outcry the Council asked for a smaller version; there were various rethinks but nothing came of any of the proposals.

Twickenham Riverside 2000 - 2021
In 2001 a planning application was submitted by Dawnay Day. The Council gave the go-ahead for forty flats, shops, a restaurant and a health and fitness centre. However, a Public Enquiry put a stop to the Dawnay Day proposal.

Subsequently the Twickenham Challenge for Twickenham Riverside appeared. Proposals were the Duke of Edinburgh Award Centre, a River Centre, the Busen Anglo-Japanese Club and the Laura Sevenus Swimming School.

Café and Children's Playground Opened
In 2005 the children's playground, café and toilets were opened, along with a new retaining wall. Landscaping was carried out at the front of the site. The [award winning] garden area hosted an array of plants selected to provide an attractive environment for bees and butterflies; overall, the first positive steps since the pool site closed in 1980, but the art deco building had been demolished.

From 2006 to 2010 the Liberal Democrats took office. Four housing developments were put forward in 2008 (along with the Environment Trust’s River Centre which had entered the Twickenham Challenge) – the Countryside Properties company was chosen as the developer by the administration.

There was huge opposition to housing on the site and after consultation with the Department for Communities and Local Government - with which I had some association - Electoral Reform Services (ERS) was engaged by residents. 41.7% voted and the result was 93.5% against housing on Twickenham Riverside.

Local community groups such as Save Our Riverside and the Richmond United Group promoted the result of the referendum gaining much public support. It is also interesting to note that at this stage Twickenham Riverside was taken up by national journalists in the New Statesman, Private Eye and the London Evening Standard.

Subsequently the Liberal Democrat administration of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames lost office although their Linked Sites Strategy went ahead.

It should be remembered that before leaving office the Liberal Democrat administration signed off a "Linked Sites Strategy" for the Twickenham Riverside site. This scheme allowed the affordable housing component of their housing plan to be off-loaded onto other sites in the Borough. The sites designated for affordable housing in the Linked Sites Strategy included a number of garage sites and various garden plots, including a community garden. This housing was built and it seemed that the affordable housing for the Twickenham Riverside site had been fulfilled, although it is understood that the Hopkins plan (2021) also includes "affordable" housing.

Diamond Jubilee Gardens opened by HRH Princess Alexandra
In the Spring of 2011, Boris Johnson, the then Mayor of London, took part in a tree planting ceremony relatively near the café; the following year the gardens were opened by HRH Princess Alexandra and in 2013 the Diamond Jubilee Gardens were awarded the Sustainable Landscaping Award by London in Bloom. (HRH Queen Elizabeth II gave a rare black poplar tree for the opening ceremony for the gardens but this is to be felled in the Hopkins plan).

In 2014 the Council purchased the Santander car park area connecting to the derelict Pool House buildings owned by the Council.

A Charitable Trust was formed in 2014 with a 125 year lease designed to protect the Diamond Jubilee Gardens ... And in January 2014 Diamond Jubilee Gardens, in Conservation Area 8 Twickenham Riverside, was designated a Public Open Space.

Land approved Public Open Space: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames Decision January 2014
"Cabinet approve the designation of land at Diamond Jubilee Gardens, Twickenham, identified in the attached plan, as Public Open Space under Section 122 of the Local Government Act 1972. Cabinet consider and approve the granting of a lease to an appropriate Trust, that being Twickenham Riverside Trust, to ensure that the land is held in trust for the benefit of residents.

The London Borough of Richmond upon Thames website also stated: "Diamond Jubilee Gardens on Twickenham Riverside have been formally protected, following approval by Richmond Council’s Cabinet. The gardens have been designated as public open space and are protected for public use, performances and events. The picturesque spot was established and opened in 2012, and is located on the site of the former Twickenham Lido."

During this Council administrationn (2014-2018) The Embankment was refurbished and new trees planted.

Further Competitions to Develop Twickenham Riverside
In 2015 another competition for the Twickenham Riverside site took place but the Council’s chosen plan for the site did not go ahead as there were issues brought up by the Environment Agency.

And now there is the Hopkins Design with housing on the site of Diamond Jubilee Gardens and a pub, although there are over 20 public houses – and numerous restaurants - within walking distance; there will also be the loss of modern public toilets NOT to be replaced.

Planning Announcement on 16 June 2021
LBRUT (Richmond Council) announced that they intended to submit a planning application for luxury flats and a pub. Affordable housing, also proposed on the land bought by the Council in 2014, is next to Water Lane.

The Incorrect “40 Years of Neglect" Mantra
On 14 September the local Liberal Democrat Party sent out a number of unsolicited emails to residents stating that there had been 40 years of neglect on Twickenham Riverside. Example photographs of the "neglect" were of the locked Council car park in Water Lane - the former "Santander" car park. A Liberal Democrat councillor promoting the planning application personally paid for an advertisement on social media which promoted this information.

However, it must be remembered that from 2010 to 2018 Twickenham Riverside was a hive of activity; the annual Charlie Shore Boys and Girls Regattas, Dragon Boat Races, music on the Riverside, fairgrounds, Shetland Pony rides and varied market stalls.

And do councillors remember the children’s playground opening in 2005, followed by Diamond Jubilee Gardens in 2013 - and the refurbishment of the Embankment?

“40 years of neglect” takes us back to the early 1980s and the Liberal Democrats have been the majority in the Council for five terms of office during that time plus their 1986 alliance with the SDP.

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames Planning Application November 2022
The Liberal Democrats, supported by a member of the Green Party, passed a planning application on 24 November 2022 that will erase the Diamond Jubilee Gardens. It seems that there are around 68 trees that will be completely destroyed. One wonders how a member of the Green Party could support this application. It is now up to the Twickenham Riverside Trust, initially with a 125 year lease, to oppose the Council's Compulsory Purchase Order.

Compulsory Purchase Order
A Public Enquiry for the London Borough of Richmond's Compulsory Purchase Order to wrest land from the Twickenham Riverside Trust is to take place in June 2023.


A Comment from Teddington in relation to the Linked Sites Scheme for Twickenham Riverside
It must be remembered that the "affordable housing" connected to the original [Twickenham Riverside] plan was built in Shacklegate Lane and Railway Road Teddington, although the planned luxury housing never got built on the site itself." A community garden in Sherland Road in Twickenham also suffered from the scheme as well as a garden in Strawberry Hill.

A Comment from the Duputy Mayor of London (Sport) During a Visit to the Riverside:
Twickenham Riverside would be an ideal location to develop river sports
.

The old pool site and Riverside Conservation Area 8
"The Village core, on the raised river terrace including Church Street and its associated alleyways, forms a focal point when viewed from the Thames and is closely linked to it. The medieval settlement is clearly visible from as far away as Radnor Gardens, Ham House and Richmond Hill. Physical and visual links between the original village street, Church Street, and the River Thames are very important as evidence of the village’s historical development and present day

TWICKENHAM RIVERSIDE - ONCE THE SITE OF RICHMOND HOUSE
Prior to Twickenham Baths, Richmond House, a very grand and impressive house, stood on the Twickenham Riverside site for centuries (1662-1923). The story starts with the Birkheads. Edward, the first inhabitant married Eleanor Myddleton. Members of the Birkhead and Middleton families emigrated to America and Henry Middleton was a signatory of the American Declaration of Independence. Towards the end of a Heritage Lottery project in June 2013 Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, was pleased to receive a copy of Richmond House on the "Twickenham Riverside site" - a letter of thanks was received from Kensington Palace.

Some of the other inhabitants who lived in Richmond House on Twickenham Riverside
The Earl of Bradford, Lord Torrington, Countess of Shelburne, Countess of Elgin, Dowager Duchess of Roxburghe and Field Marshal Sir Edward Blakeney. Joseph Theophilus Mears, the last owner of Richmond House. sold the house to the Council in 1924; following a petition by residents the Council built a public bathhouse and Twickenham outdoor swimming pool, a classic lido of its time.

And ..... HORACE WALPOLE'S VIEW OF TWICKENHAM RIVERSIDE FROM STRAWBERRY HILL HOUSE
"The enclosed enchanted little landscape, then, is Strawberry Hill.... This view of the castle is what I have just finished [it was a view of the south side, towards the north-east], and is the only side that will be at all regular. Directly before it is an open grove, through which you see a field, which is bounded by a serpentine wood of all kind of trees, and flowering shrubs, and flowers.

The lawn before the house is situated on the top of a small hill, from whence to the left you see the town and church of Twickenham encircling a turn of the river, that looks exactly like a sea-port in miniature."
NOTE the London Borough of Richmond Upon Thames Supplementary Planning Guidance for Strawberry Hill Planning Policy LP5 Views and Vistas

Futher information TWICKENHAM RIVERSIDE December 2022

Recommended
TWICKENHAM & RICHMOND TRIBUNE

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