A Home Town Blog. For visitors from far away, to my Blog, Twickenham – the Home of England Rugby – is also blest with some of the most beautiful reaches of the River Thames, including ‘Eel Pie Island’ historically famous as an early venue for ‘ The Rolling Stones’ and many other groups at the beginning of Rock & Roll.
The land opposite the Island was purchased by the council in 1924 as open and recreational space for the people of Twickenham. As it has now become a desirable site for luxury housing, overlooking the Thames, for the past 30 years subsequent council members (both Libdem and Conservative when in control) have tried to sell it off for over development with luxury flats or town housing.
Both parties’ attempts being thwarted by public meetings, demonstrations, a petition of over 10,000 names among lots of other activities. The people of Twickenham have said NO loud and clear.
Twickenham Riverside development has become a ‘Political Football’ by both the parties taking it in turns in controlling Richmond Council.
When set up the by the late Kenneth Hathaway, (www.twickenhamriver.org.uk) an international award winning architect, the River Thames Terrace Group was very careful to make sure we had conservative, libdem, labour and later green party members as well as no party independents to obtain the best use of the site for the people of Twickenham and our visitors according to the purchase of the land in 1924.
The plans drawn up by Mr Hathaway, as a result of these discussions, were submitted to and approved by the Council, and could have been implemented at a fraction of the costs to date in consultations and legal fees.
The Governments Freedom of Information Act has recently revealed the true cost of Twickenham Riverside to Council Tax payers.
What a state of affairs! massive sums of tax payer’s money already spent on development proposals without any end in sight. Proposals that ignore the wishes of the community, expressed by a petition of 10,000 signatures and a local referendum.
The most stupid proposal in these days of financial restraint is the planned destruction after 5 years of use of a perfectly useful popular amenity, namely the existing children's playground, cafe and toilets. In order that land can be leased for 1000 years to a housing developer building roads, parking, private gardens, and dwellings of 3 and 4 storeys dominating and overlooking the Embankment.
What amenity does the public get in return? a new playground liable to flood, renovation of the Embankment, a strip of open space part on the roof of a building , plus the irony of a new office and education building in order that we can be lectured & advised on preserving the environment.
The tragedy is that the money spent to date could have helped restore the remaining area of land to community use as public amenity open space, as defined on its purchase in 1924 and its subsequent public use..