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3.5.1  Organisation

3.5.2  Finance

3.5.3  Traffic



3.5.1  Organisation

An appropriate management structure can be set up in many ways. The prime considerations are:

  • LBRuT is likely to want an arms-length relationship
  • Charity status is probably essential
  • Operational decisions must be sound
  • Speed of operational decision-making and implementation is essential
  • Staff costs must be kept at a minimum.

Management structure

A three-tier structure is proposed:


A Steering Body to provide a strategic overview

Sets strategic objectives and monitors the enterprise. Provides assistance in support of funding applications. Major backers are given early warning of impending serious financial or managerial shortcomings.

Membership to be drawn in the main from major stakeholders.



A Board of Directors to be responsible for strategic planning and control and setting operational targets and performance measures.

Equivalent to the Board of a small company. Senior managers of the Centre staff along with the equivalent of non-executive directors to provide practical experience and helpful guidance.


Day-to-day management team

Key members of the team are:

  • A Centre Director whose task is to provide drive and focus and to ensure that the operations are conducted effectively and efficiently. Preferably someone with the experience of running a Discovery/Heritage Centre
  • A Finance Director, who might be an experienced business person who has taken early retirement, working for the Centre on a part-time basis
  • An expert in the Arts
  • Education workers
  • A marketing expert.
If the Centre is to perform well as a unit, it is important to set up a structure that integrates the functions, Discovery/Heritage, Arts and Commercial.


3.5.2  Finance

The preparation of the business plan is taking place in two stages. The first is to carry out a robust, credible analysis of the financial implications of the Centre, sufficient for reliable decision-making. This has been done and the results are reported below. The second is to prepare a detailed business plan. As part of a DfEE-funded project, Lords Associates working with Kids' Net have prepared a template to enable groups in our situation to develop a full business plan. A prototype template has been obtained and this will form the basis of preparation for the full plan.

The approach taken in the preliminary analysis is first to examine the financial aspects of each of the three parts that comprise the Centre, and then to determine what benefits accrue from operating the three as a single unit.

The Council has direct experience of running arts events and the tourist office. The management accounts of some of the best run Discovery Centres have been opened to us, so we are able to benchmark against a realistic standard of best practice.

The aim of the Centre will be to break even by good management, a suitable mix of income-generating activities and a low-level of fund raising.

Capital costs

As a first estimate, Donaldsons, the Council's independent financial advisors, assume the cost of building the Centre and fitting it out is just under £2M.

This is based on the figures of the Tym's report that assumed a large Discovery Centre equipped with high-tech exhibits. In our visits to Discovery Centres we have encountered a wide range of fit-out costs all of which are lower than those used by Tym's. Further, the cost of fitting out the Arts Facility will be less than the cost of fitting out the Discovery Centre. Thus Donaldsons' figure is too high, but it is a convenient reference point and gives a feel for the scale of the proposal.

Operational costs

Principle costs are staffing, replacement of exhibits to encourage repeat visits, maintenance and administrative overheads.

Techniquest recovers a high level of its running costs through admission charges, sponsorship and operation of a café and shop.

Arts functions in the Borough under the control of Leisure Services are within that department's budget.


The initial capital cost is due to be met from the development. There is no reason, in principle, why some of the other costs could not be met by sponsorship.

A condition laid on the developer is that £50,000 is made available annually to the Centre from the development.

The major source of income will be from those visiting to explore the Discovery Centre, attend an event, shop, or use the café/bar. It is estimated that 30,000 visitors a year will visit the Centre. For comparison, in 1998, Marble Hill had 11,993 visitors, Orleans Gallery 5,001 (down from 17,864 in 1997 when entry was free of charge) and Strawberry Hill had 2,095 in 1998. The Centre is better situated for tourists than any of these and has more diverse attractions.

Other income will derive from hire of space or facilities.

Some of the staff costs are already met by the Council, e.g. by relocation of the Council's Tourist Office into the Centre.

The proposed commercial centre core is more robust than other stand-alone discovery or arts centres with a café, two types of shop and art displays.

It is highly probable that the Centre will break even, but there are other benefits to be taken into account.

Benefits of an integrated Centre

There are significant cost savings and income generation benefits that accrue to the integrated Centre compared with stand-alone centres. These include:

  • Staff costs are lower because of shared administrative functions, e.g. the ticket desk, publicity, etc.
  • Intense use of the multi-purpose performing space
  • The prolonged day: the Discovery Centre will be open in the morning and the afternoon, and the Arts Facility in the afternoon and the evening, enabling the shops and café to stay open longer.


It is common for Discovery and Arts Centres to raise funds by a variety of methods. The developer made a bid for National Lottery funding. Had that been successful it would have enabled a scheme that was acceptable to the public to go ahead. His attempt to raise equivalent funding from the site led to a proposal for overdevelopment that was quite unacceptable.

The benefits of gaining funds in addition to those available from a small-scale development are therefore clearly evident. Funding mechanisms for Discovery Centres and recognised bodies engaged in river-related activities are well established. The activities of these centres lend themselves to appeals for relatively small amounts of money, e.g., to sponsor a display or fund a project.

Significant levels of support can be achieved by accumulation of small-to-medium contributions from the public. This has been effective in other local projects such as the refurbishment of St Stephen's Church in East Twickenham (£1.8M) and the building of the new Orange Tree Theatre.

One can well see that an injection of £1.8M into the Centre would make it financially robust without question. Informal soundings suggest that there are realistic chances of gaining financial support of that order. It takes time, but it may well be time well spent. Furthermore, local sponsorship brings a sense of ownership and community spirit which is a valuable if intangible benefit for the ongoing success of the Centre.


3.5.3  Traffic

Traffic congestion is very dependent upon the timing of a visitor's arrival and the length of stay. Thus if, 150 people arrive by car at a fixed time for a specific event, such as a film or performance lasting, say, 3hrs, they will require approximately 75 parking spaces for a fixed period. In central Twickenham, this amounts to a parking problem. If, on the other hand they arrive at times spread out through the same 3hr period, and if they only stay for an hour to visit the Centre or the café or the shops, the parking requirement will be much less.

It has been found that during the days of French Markets or Open Days on Eel Pie Island, thousands of visitors have been accommodated within the existing parking regime because their visits have been spread out.

For the Eel Pie Centre, then, there are mixed messages. By day, when most of the visitors are to the Centre or small participation events in the Arts Facility, parking is not a major issue. But when there are performances in the Arts Facility, extra parking needs to be available nearby, especially if other parts of the development are attracting a significant number of visitors.

The parking proposals of the Working Party on Traffic and Parking, if accepted, would prove satisfactory.



Sailing Barge "Pudge"

Heritage context

Contextually it contributes to the riverside environment by acting as a focus visually and symbolically (a focus for the eye in the long view; a destination for a visit; focusing attention on the importance of the river). For this reason it must be a separate building (i.e. not part of another building).

The function is complementary to the role of the proposed Twickenham Museum, which would deal with all aspects of Twickenham's heritage/history, not just the river, and be a more traditional museum/archive.

The function is also complementary to existing long-term traditional land uses in Twickenham - boat repair, leisure boating, riverside walks, restaurants, pubs, civic offices, and tourism to Ham House, Marble Hill House, Orleans Gallery, and Strawberry Hill. It will provide a visitor attraction and complementary functions such as information on river services.

River-Related Users of the Eel Pie Centre

Richmond upon Thames is unique among London Boroughs in having riparian land on both sides of the river. The Thames changes character from tidal to the east to semi-tidal above Richmond, then tideless to the westward above Teddington.

The Thames in the Twickenham reaches has a special quality due to the construction of the half-tide lock and sluices at Richmond in 1894. Over the last century they have enabled the river above the lock to be developed for all manner of water-related activities, from long-established sailing, rowing and canoe clubs, to houseboat and cruiser moorings. The only inhabited island on the semi-tidal Thames, Eel Pie Island, is home to busy boatyards and clubs.

Although the Thames is not as busy now as in the Victorian and Edwardian heyday, during the year a number of water-based events are held in this reach, including the Richmond and Twickenham Regattas for rowing craft, and regular Sunday and Wednesday evening sailing races. One of the most spectacular events of recent years is the Great River Race, which starts off the slipway at Ham and includes a wide variety of rowing boats from all parts of the country and the Continent.

There are numerous clubs and organisations that have a special interest in this stretch of the river and with whom the Centre would expect to form strong links. They fall within the following categories:

  • Member-based groups, such as the River Thames Society, who are concerned with all aspects of the Thames
  • Boating groups
  • Educational organisations
  • River-oriented groups, such as the Thames Landscape Strategy
  • Sports clubs.

There will also be opportunities for the Centre to act in support of informal river use by supporting the activities envisaged in the developer's brief for the pontoon and enhancement of The Embankment. These include increased river traffic visiting Twickenham.  (For further detail see Appendix 7.)


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