29 August: Twickenham Society Group Poolsite update

Since the last update, the Council has moved forward with its proposals for the poolsite. As owner of the site, it has commissioned Dearle Henderson to draw up plans for a short-term scheme, and as the Planning Committee has now approved them. Action depends on further approval of the Secretay of State, who has taken a keen interest in the development of the site, but it is likely that the From numerous chats, it has become clear that many are bemused by what is happening, and where the Twickenham Society stands. The following is a brief account of the events and of the last few months and the Societies response to them.

Amenity groups, who united in opposition to the Dawnay Day scheme, support the Council's long-term aims for the Twickenham Pool site, and accept theTwickenham Challenge as a fresh approach to determining and selecting a suitable public asset for the site. The current debate has been about the best way to implement the short term scheme whilst plans for the long-term scheme are developed.

Four short-term schemes were considered by the Council:

  • The Terrace Garden Group's scheme, in which most of the pool buildings were to be retained and reused,
  • The Twickenham Society Group's Waterfront scheme, by which the whole site was to be opened up and traffic re-routed away from the Embankment,
  • Cllr Arbour's Jubilee Gardens, and
  • The Dearle Henderson scheme for partial clearance of the site and inclusion of a playground.
All of these were designed to open part or all of the site to public use, and to bring an end to over twenty years' decay.

In many respects, the least interesting of these schemes was from Dearle-Henderson, but that was the one for which the Council sought planning consent on 31 July. Amenity groups represented at the meeting were unanimous in calling for improvements to the proposed scheme.

It was argued that:
  • The whole site could be cleared instead on one third
  • The children's playground would be better situated near the duck-feeding part of the Embankment rather than the Wino's corner
  • There should be public toilets and that
  • Fencing more in keeping with the riverside setting should be used.
These improvements were turned down by the Council.

The Terrace Garden Group remain of the view that their scheme would have served as both a short and long term solution, and that, with Council support, it could have been implemented already.

The Twickenham Society and other amenity groups believe that the Council's scheme is a positive step forward, and wish it well. But, there is a shared disappointment that the opportunity for an imaginative open space scheme that made use of the whole site has been missed.

A frequently asked question is, Dearle-Henderson, who?. They have been advising the Council about the poolsite for some while, on matters relating to quantity surveying and project management. A visit to their website shows that they are well qualified to advise the Council on these matters. but it is not at all obvious that they are the best choice for the design of a sensitive site.

Behind the scenes, the Council has been working closely with the candidates for the Twickenham Challenge. We await the outcome and the announcement of the next stage in the selection of the major public asset for the site, with the greatest of interest.

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