Twickenham Riverside Trust vows to continue fight against scheme that promises new heart for town
By The Editor
25th Nov 2022 | Local News
The Twickenham Riverside Trust says it plans to continue its fight to block the Council's scheme to create a new town square with homes, shops and leisure.
Last night – Thursday – the Council's Planning Committee voted unanimously to approve the redevelopment of Twickenham Riverside.
However, progress depends on relocating the Diamond Jubilee Gardens to a new larger site.
The Trust, which runs the gardens, has opposed the relocation plan, so forcing the Council to launch a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO).
Supporters of the scheme, including the Lib-Dem controlled council had hoped the Trust and others would now get behind the redevelopment and allow them to push ahead.
However, the Trust has refused, which means there will now be a public inquiry next summer to decide whether to allow the CPO.
This process will, inevitably, create a delay and add to the cost of the scheme given the need to brief lawyers and consultants on both sides of the argument – as well as the spiralling cost of construction and materials.
Council leader, Gareth Roberts, had issued a plea for critics to get behind the scheme, which promises to transform and open up the riverside, creating a new town square, pedestrian promenade and public space.
He said the decision to grant planning permission was the next step 'to delivering something that residents have been asking for 40 years; a beautiful site right in the heart of Twickenham, which champions its unique riverside position and will be a magnet for residents and visitors alike'.
He added: "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. This scheme will connect the riverside to the town and ensure Twickenham is a thriving town centre for many years to come.
"Residents just want to see this happen – they have waited for long enough.
"I am delighted this plan has been approved – it is a design which we can all be proud of and I hope everyone will be as excited as me to see construction start on site."
The scheme has also been welcomed by the Twickenham MP, Munira Wilson, who said: "After 40 years of limbo, it's a wonderful opportunity to make this precious space even more vibrant and family friendly, and provide much-need affordable housing for residents."
However, the chairman of the Trust, Ted Cremin, has signalled the fight to kill the proposed design will go on.
He said: "Rather than focusing on this to deliver a genuine riverside garden improving on the existing public open space, the Council have approved their own plan to bulldoze the Diamond Jubilee Gardens, destroying 23 established trees, to erect a 5 storey, 21-metre tall Wharf Lane building just 10m from the river's edge.
"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, over 2,500 people have signed our petition, nine times more than have supported the Council's scheme on the planning portal in 12 months."
"This support will continue to grow through next June's public enquiry as we defend against the Council's Compulsory Purchase Order of the public's gardens. Getting it done is no excuse for getting it wrong."