Twickenham Riverside, Who Benefits ?
Press statements and political news sheets of the Council's ruling party on the benefits to Twickenham of the Dawnay Day development fail to answer the following question: What is the Council doing promoting the sale of public land to a preferred developer in order that they may build luxury riverside flats with their own gardens, shops, and in the basement, a privately operated Cinema and privately operated Fitness Club?
given is that these buildings bring a benefit to Twickenham since
they revitalise the town and provide facilities to the residents.
No mention is made of the fact that they are a commercial venture
and if the demand for a Cinema was so strong this element of the scheme
would have been provided years ago above ground somewhere else in
Twickenham. Twickenham abounds in Health and Fitness centres. The
last place to build either a Health and Fitness Centre or a Cinema
is by the river. Furthermore there is no shortage of vacant shops.
So the main purpose and driver of the development is the luxury housing,
46 flats with their own parking and private gardens.
1: Swimming Pool
2: Arts Cinema and Performing Space
3: Open space
4: Breakthrough from King Street
5: 19 extra parking places.
6: Environmental improvements
7: Pedestrianising the riverbank
8: The provision of a pontoon
9: Three pieces of land added to the pools site
10: New public toilets
11: Cash consideration
12: Reimbursement of the Council's costs
Benefit 13: A premium for the grant of the lease Value (not given)
Richmond upon Thames Council will be providing over three acres of prime riverside land to a developer to build a scheme whose main outward visible impact will be three stories containing 46 luxury flats with their own private gardens. They are claimed to have the appearance of upturned boats. Shops and restaurants will be above ground, parking for the flats, plus a commercially operated Fitness Centre and Cinema in the basement. This is in return for £750,000 other as yet undefined payments and limited use of these basement facilities when they are not too busy.
This site was purchased by the Council in 1924 for public walks and pleasure grounds. For the present scheme the Council prepared a development brief in consultation with local amenity societies and then ignored their recommendations. The developer revised the scheme and the Council revised the brief. The Council has refused to entertain any alternative such as the public open space, for which they have already given planning permission. The Council is refusing to realise the real value of this land for the future by making use of it as a public park and gardens, leaving the way open for alternative public use.
The existing 50m by 17m swimming pool was closed for repairs in 1981, and the Council has made no attempt to investigate alternative funding to restore and reinstate that public amenity.
They are now about to act as judge and jury on a development by the Council's preferred developer Dawnay Day Structured Finance Ltd. The land has never been out to tender on the open market and the present development has not been subject to competition, or consultation. The information on public benefit gained painstakingly to date reveals that this benefit is minimal.
It requires a change in mindset, but all would not be lost if the elected Council has the vision to see the error of its ways, and remembers that it holds this land in trust for the public. This responsibility remains with the elected members and they should heed the views of the electorate.
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