Presented by Judith Lovelace, Chair, the Twickenham Society, 27 Feb 2004

Opening remarks:

I repeat two statements I made at the start of this Inquiry:
  • We represent amenity Societies and Community groups from all parts of Twickenham

  • We did not ask for this Inquiry......but perhaps I should say that we welcome extra information which has emerged from the process.
The information and comments we welcome. 
  • We are pleased to note that, during the course of the Inquiry, the Council has repeatedly endorsed the 1991 Planning Inspectors report. We have regarded that report as the touchstone for all our comments, proposals and contributions over the last 12/13 years.

  • We were worried about 'consultation' as Councillor Arbour is on record as saying that his Administration would confine itself to 'Statutory Consultation'. This was not a surprise in the light of previous excessive consultation, working parties etc but a disappointment in view of local expertise on this and indeed other issues. Mr McKevitt's comments under cross-examination about his attitude to the local Community and about 'different types' of consultation were very reassuring.

  • We also wished to support Mr. Mckevitt's assertion that the building has become derelict according to the 'law of unintended consequences'
Our Reservations

We said from the start that we have reservations; last week we said that as extra information has emerged our reservations have increased. The Inquiry itself has become a public consultation exercise.

Our reservations now are:
  • All the issues raised in our proposed Conditions

  • Concerns about the quality of the design (last week was our first sight of mockups showing buttresses and fencing)

  • The scheme is very small; it's only 1/5 of the site

  • Lack of information until now on the design details

  • Lack of openness about the direction of the long-term scheme though we are grateful to Mr McKevitt for clarifying some elements of it

  • Loose ends about the short-term scheme eg opening hours of the playground; which age group is it for? Opening hours of the café? Would these loos be any use to the Rugby crowds??

  • Traffic management and parking during the demolition and construction work

  • Apparent gaps in thinking on the impact of the short-term scheme on the rest of the site. (eg Tatty fencing around the swimming pool an invitation to vagrants and the gangs of youth)

  • How do the Council plans for loos relate to the UDP Inspector's recent strong recommendation?

  • How do the Council's plans relate to other UDP recommendations? Or are those still locked in the Twickenham Challenge? Or is it too soon to ask?

  • Reiterate a point made earlier in the month by Yvonne Hewett that Political administrations come and go - officers come and go but the Societies are long established in the fabric of Twickenham and in particular IN THIS SITE

  • The community will retain its interest and scrutiny and will keep on repeating its support for public open space, public amenities and river related activity

  • Inevitably there are worries about broken promises, eg Councillor Arbour's manifesto pledge for Jubilee Gardens

These are our reservations; they have become more explicit during the progress of the Inquiry. We have presented those reservations as constructive criticism and continue to do so.

Our aims have been:
  • To fight blight
  • To be constructive
  • To demand quality
  • To consider the implications for the short, medium and long term
and we look to you Sir to support and reinforce these aims in your report.

We support the Council's scheme because we believe that demolition of the pool building is a recognisable and positive first step towards enhancement of the site.

We also know that the people of Twickenham are thoroughly fed up with the continuing lack of action on the site: 'Why can't they do something?'

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