EXECUTIVE SUMMARY & RECOMMENDATIONS
River Use Working Party's Objectives
The Working Party's Conclusions
1. To Improve the Ambience of Twickenham Riverside
2. To Increase the Visitors to the Riverside and Town Centre
3. To Support the Existing Local Community
4. To Support the Thames Landscape Strategy
5. To Highlight These Urgent Priorities
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY & RECOMMENDATIONS
The Twickenham pool site is located in an attractive area with a blend of historic buildings, ancient lanes and stunning river views. It is firstly a working riverside site that is much enjoyed by local people as a leisure facility, and secondly a town centre site. It can be an effective interface between the river and the commercial centre, and it can, and should, act as a focal point for the regeneration of both.
Under the umbrella of the UDP, LBRuT has three strategic initiatives that intersect at this point:
This working group has considered the riverside area and the improvements that will be needed to increase river usage. We have also looked at the ways in which the redevelopment of the pool site could attract tourists who will contribute materially to the regeneration of the town centre.
The working group is mainly made up of people who live and work in Twickenham, who know and value the area. The group is keenly aware of the uniqueness of our surroundings, and the irreplaceable riverside businesses and activities. Its aim is to protect and enhance them through a sympathetic development on the pool site that will benefit the whole community.
The group has looked at the variety of opportunities the development presents, the practicalities of each, and the perceived threats to the riverside from the development schemes that have been submitted to date.
THE RIVER USE WORKING PARTY'S OBJECTIVES
The aim has been to create a practical plan for the development of the riverside area that will simultaneously:
1. Benefit Twickenham by supporting new and existing businesses 2. Emphasise the special qualities of the area 3. Be capable of assimilation into the proposed developments on the pool site 4. Enhance the quality of river-based businesses and life in Twickenham 5. Help sustain river-based activities particularly in the borough but also throughout the length of the Thames 6. Make the most of the pool site as a leisure facility in the centre of the community.
THE WORKING PARTY'S CONCLUSIONS
This report shows how the redevelopment of the pool site can be accommodated within the existing context of a riverside village and how it can become a valued and lively part of the town centre. It also indicates how insensitive development could severely inconvenience residents in the whole of the surrounding area and possibly destroy the existing river-related businesses and boat clubs.
Its general conclusions are:
1. The pool is on a riverside site with links to the town centre. Any development should preserve its riverside identity. 2. This is a distinctive riverside location that can attract many more visitors and tourists. Events such as the French markets, Twickenham Week and the Eel Pie Artists open days have attracted thousands of people without causing traffic congestion or parking problems. 3. The beach at Richmond has demonstrated the popularity of an open riverside. In Twickenham, a good, appropriate development can play a significant part in increasing the spend in the existing shops, restaurants and pubs. It can also help sustain the boatyards and other river-based businesses that form part of the essential infrastructure of the working river Thames. 4. The development should be consistent with the Thames Landscape Strategy and the need to sustain the environment. It should be architecturally in keeping with the surroundings, in terms of height, massing, and nature of building. 5. A priority for the pool site is to have buildings and spaces that enhance and relate to the river. A good test as to whether a proposed unit is suitable for the site is to ask if it would work as well in King Street or Heath Road, or in the redevelopment of the Post Office Sorting Office site in the London Road. If the answer is "yes", then the unit should be placed elsewhere. 6. There is no point in trying to create a high street-like shopping centre on the riverside. 7. For the Public Asset part of the development, a suitable mix of space and buildings includes a piazza, a water feature, and a riverside Centre containing a discovery centre that celebrates the river life, crafts and environment, addresses the needs of the local population and acts as a focal point for tourists. 8. The commercial mix required to support the Public Asset should be as profitable as possible to reduce overall massing of buildings on the site. Other than one or two riverside restaurants, the commercial buildings should be located on the site away from the river. 9. There is a need to adopt an imaginative and flexible approach to parking and access to accommodate the needs of the existing community, the occupants of the new development and the increased number of visitors, many of whom will be pedestrian and some of whom will be disabled. The requirements for parking and access vary markedly with the time of day and day of the week. 10. Increased restrictions on access and parking are likely to result in the boatyards and other businesses and boat clubs being forced to close and cause great difficulty for local residents.
These conclusions have formed the basis of the recommendations listed below.
1. TO IMPROVE THE AMBIENCE OF TWICKENHAM RIVERSIDE
1.1 Create a Piazza at the bottom of Water Lane and a Market Square within the development 1.2 Include a landmark building for the Riverside Centre 1.3 Create a central water feature to add elegance to the whole development 1.4 Upgrade the Embankment and riverside area 1.5 Build a pontoon to encourage river traffic 1.6 Have a few, well-regulated cafés, restaurants and bars 1.7 Have better, more friendly pedestrian areas 1.8 Adopt flexible parking arrangements that recognise the different demands for parking from residents, businesses and visitors, day and night.
2. TO INCREASE VISITORS TO THE RIVERSIDE AND TOWN CENTRE
2.1 Create a distinctive Riverside Centre for convenience in this report referred to as the Eel Pie Centre that is the major public asset in the development. 2.2 There are three options:
2.2.1 A riverside discovery centre with interactive displays for all ages, about the working river, the environment, and the area, with a programme of events to appeal to the whole of the local community. 2.2.2 An arts centre, with a small, dedicated performing space, with dressing rooms, workshops, etc. 2.2.3 A hybrid, with lower tech interactive displays and a flexible performing space. 2.3 Whichever option is chosen, the Centre should include space for a proper Tourist Information Centre, a café, a public convenience, space for displays about the Thames Landscape Strategy, and exhibition space for local artists. 2.4 The links to King Street and Church Street should be improved, with the whole development to be organic, friendly, and in keeping with the surroundings. The linkage to King Street should tie in to the natural connection to Church Street and the lanes of Twickenham. 2.5 Although a small hotel is highly desirable to meet the need for hotel beds in Twickenham, a close examination of the practicalities shows that it is not achievable in this development. 2.6 The piazza should be designed so it supports only modest-scale events, and outside entertainments should be scheduled so that residents can enjoy rather than endure them. 2.7 Rowdy and antisocial behaviour as experienced on the Richmond riverside should be minimised or avoided by careful use of space, and avoiding the licensing pitfalls experienced in Richmond.
3. TO SUPPORT THE EXISTING LOCAL COMMUNITY
The development should be architecturally in sympathy with the surrounding area by respecting the building heights, winding lanes, and the village nature of the Twickenham riverside.
The access for businesses, clubs, residents and emergency services should be retained and enhanced, through sensible traffic and parking policies.
3.1 Length of vehicle should be taken into account (e.g. boat trailers up to 50ft, fire engines, emergency helicopter); size of load (e.g. furniture removal van); length of stay required to load and unload (sometimes all day for removals, possibly longer for boat trailers). 3.2 Parking should not be placed at the areas most prone to flooding, at the end of Wharf Lane, Water Lane, and the foot of the Eel Pie Island bridge. 3.3 The 31 parking spaces replacing the 61 to be removed from the Embankment, should be included in the development away from flood areas. 3.4 Parking policy should be consistent throughout the area. The present mix of many types of parking is unwieldy and inefficient. 3.5 There is a need to avoid encroachment of access to Eel Pie Island. All of the plans at present put forward would place unacceptable constraints on loading and unloading goods, boats, and household furniture.
4. TO SUPPORT THE THAMES LANDSCAPE STRATEGY
This can be done through good access and adequate parking, increased river use, and active involvement with the river centre, which is firmly in line with the objectives of the Thames Landscape Strategy. Specific recommendations are to:
4.1 Conserve the intimate scale and working character of the Twickenham and Eel Pie Island waterfront. 4.2 Secure possible connections between the centre of Twickenham and the swimming baths site. 4.3 Conserve and enhance the unique character of the Thames Landscape as defined in the Strategy. 4.4 Identify, conserve and reveal the main landmarks of the area, with concern for the frame and backdrop to the view. New developments should contribute fresh landmarks to work with the existing urban pattern. 4.5 Conserve the distinct characters of the different waterfronts. 4.6 To complement the scale, character and urban structure of the surrounding waterfronts. 4.7 Conserve the unique river edge of continuous pedestrian access, and consider the needs of people with mobility difficulties and the provision of alternative parking where necessary. 4.8 Conserve and enhance the riverside spaces for people to sit, watch and sunbathe. 4.9 Promote river tourist transport services, and linking services into the existing public transport and car parking network.
5. TO HIGHLIGHT THESE URGENT PRIORITIES
The following are necessary to produce a viable, working, village riverside that is in keeping with the town centre:
5.1 Ensure that the public asset components of the development are in accordance with the wishes of the community through consultation. 5.2 Ensure that an appropriate balance is reached between commercial development, public asset buildings, and public open space. The development should be friendly and welcoming. 5.3 Ensure that the provisions of the UDP, not to have retail on the site, be followed for the majority of the pool site, and those shops that are permitted will be sited around the Market Square, where they will benefit from the access of the King Street link and the vitality of the market area. 5.4 Protect the village nature of Twickenham riverside and its surroundings. 5.5 Examine further the opportunities and problems that are presented by the potential uses and configurations of the Eel Pie Centre, and avoid reaching rush decisions in the face of commercial expediency.