On 20th October at a full meeting of the council, leader Serge Lourie stated that the council would be deferring a decision on
the signature of a contract with the developer for the poolsite until summer 2010, in order to have time to examine the developer's accounts up to September of this year.
Jenny Pearce, Chair of the Environment Trust, says:
The Environment Trust for Richmond on Thames is the lead organisation for Twickenham River Centre, part of the Twickenham Riverside project. The Trust has been kept fully informed by Richmond Council of developments with respect to the programme for the Twickenham Riverside site.
The Trust is disappointed about the delay to the project programme, as announced by Richmond Council, which means that the contract with the developer will not be signed until next summer. Nevertheless, the Trust remains committed to developing the River Centre with the Council and the Trust's network of partners. We support a cautious approach so that we will in due course be able to assure our members, and our partners in the project, of its financial stability; and we recognise that it will take time for the Council to undertake a thorough examination of the developer's accounts up to September 2009.
The Trust will use this interim period to further develop its programme of environmental education, working with established partners such as Thames Landscape Strategy and Thames Explorer Trust, as well as new partners which include Kingston University and Capel Manor College.
The Trust is already providing environmental programmes to local schools, as well as short courses for all ages. The Trust will be developing a broad range of education, apprenticeship and employment training courses with its partners over the next 12 months. This is in line with its plans to have a vibrant and wide-ranging programme of education and community-based activities for operation out of the River Centre on its completion.
28 October 2009 - The Natural History of the Thames evening with Sir David Attenborough
Photo by Thomas Alexander
On 9 October, the Environment Trust held the first in a series of 'celebrations' of the River Thames, at Kingston University, the Trust's partner in a series of programmes explaining and encouraging sustainability. Many people had a chance to meet the evening's chairman, Sir David Attenborough, at a special reception. There were displays by some of the Trust's partner organisations, and others:
Then, to a packed auditorium, Sir David described his enduring fascination with the wildlife and finely balanced eco-systems of the Thames, and introduced the three specialist speakers - Prof Paul Leonard of Brunel University on water quality; Mark Davison of the Environment Agency on invertebrates in the Thames; and Joe Pecorelli, the Trust's education officer, on fish. Joe focused especially on the life-cycle of eels from the Sargasso Sea to the Thames. (The speakers' biographies are here.)
The sell-out evening was a tremendous success, and was a major fund-raiser for the Trust's environmental education programme for people of all ages.
There will be a second 'celebration' evening on March 25th, 2010, chaired by Bamber Gascoigne, which will celebrate the heritage of the Thames.
Photo by Thomas Alexander
12 October 2009 - Just Published:
EEL PIE ISLAND - by Dan van der Vat and Michele Whitby
A thorough and well-illustrated history of the island, including its notorious heyday when it was the starting place for the Rolling Stones and the venue for many others, this new book is a fascinating read. Both of the authors live locally: Michele Whitby had access to much original material from Harry Snapper, who ran the Eel Pie Hotel, and Dan van der Vat is a best-selling military historian.
Accompanying the text are many illustrations of the island, then and now, including some of the vistas and buildings that make the place so unique. It's available from Par Ici, 41 Church Street, Twickenham.
6 October 2009 - Press Release on the Twickenham River Centre Business Plan
The Environment Trust has issued a press release (.pdf, 1 page, 51KB) to clarify the status of the business plan for the River Centre in view of the delays which have occurred, and naturally affected the progress of work going forward on the Centre. The press release also sets out the new education programmes that are being developed in conjunction with Capel Manor College and Kingston University.
16 September 2009 - Twickenham River Centre Update
The latest report on the River Centre, with quotes from supporters, is here (.pdf, 4 pages, 402KB).
1 July 2009 - Riverside Walkthrough Video on YouTube
Produced by Clive Chapman Architects, this silent, 2-minute long video walkthrough shows how the redeveloped poolsite can look when it's completed.
This is including the grass-roofed river centre, boat-themed play area, open space, and the refurbished embankment - with most of the parking moved to the rear of the site. The housing masks the ugly back of King Street and provides a mix of single dwellings and flats.
Duration: 2 minutes and 5 seconds. Silent.
26 June 2009 - Twickenham River Centre: Frequently Asked Questions
The Environment Trust has produced an FAQ in response to queries about the River Centre. It includes:
What is the River Centre For?
Who will it appeal to?
Why will the Environment Trust manage it?
Who is the Environment Trust?
What is the size of the proposed building?
What will the Centre offer for teenagers?
Is there a business plan for the project, and where can I see it?
What does the Trust think about the wider development of the site?
Has the Trust considered alternative sites for the River Centre?
How will the River Centre's education programmes be carried out?
What is the concept for the café/restaurant in the River Centre?
How will the River Centre be paid for?
What happens next and when will it open?
Where can I register my opinions and find out more?
How the riverside can look: a 3D visualisation demonstrating how Countryside Properties propose to develop the old swimming pool site.
Produced by Clive Chapman Architects.
Click on the picture or HERE to see the video, on the Council's website.
12 June 2009 - Twickenham Riverside Proposals - letter to the Richmond and Twickenham Times
The chairs of four local groups: Jack Betteridge (River Thames Society - Upper Tideway Branch), Joy Lee (the York House Society), Doug Orchard (the Twickenham Society) and Jenny Pearce (the Environment Trust for Richmond upon Thames) have written jointly to the Richmond and Twickenham Times. All are concerned about the influx of new members en bloc from the group opposed to the riverside redevelopment, who are seeking to force the societies to reflect that opposition - despite the societies already having solicited opinion or formulated their own policies. This is a serious matter for all the local amenity societies and clubs, hence the letter, which is downloadable here (.pdf, 2 pages, 41KB)
26 May 2009 - Environment Trust annual report is issued
The report contains a summary of the work carried out in the last year, including the plans for the River Centre. There are two versions, both with the same text:
18 May 2009 - Letter by John Bell to the Richmond and Twickenham Times
Local resident John Bell has long been involved in the attempts to redevelop the swimming pool site. His letter to the local paper, setting out the views of an informed and concerned member of the community is here.
8 May 2009 - Vince Cable's comments on the poolsite and the River Centre
Last week, Dr Cable met with Angela Kidner and Rob Gray of the Environment Trust's River Centre project team. From his website:
Vincent Cable Meets Environmental Groups over Riverside Plan
(posted on his website, Thurs 7th May 2009)
Vincent Cable MP met local environmental groups this weekend, led by the Borough's Environment Trust, to discuss their plans for a River Centre as part of the Council's proposals for the Twickenham Riverside.
He said: "I was enormously impressed by the commitment of local environmental and amenity groups to proceed with the River Centre. The Centre, with its boat house, learning area and exhibitions will be a major addition to the Borough; and a focal point for 'green' organisations to pursue an environmental agenda. I am delighted that Sir David Attenborough is firmly behind the plans.
"I realise that the proposed development, with the River Centre at its core, as well as open space and an improved play area, is controversial in Twickenham because of the enabling private housing. In an ideal world there would be no housing on the site which would be entirely for community use. But this is not an ideal world and some housing is necessary to finance the community projects.
"My own personal view, having seen the exhibition, is that there is too much housing. However, the Council is in a better position than me to judge what is the absolute minimum level of housing to secure agreement to proceed with the River Centre and the other enhancements.
"I have lived in the area for 35 years and once swam in the pool before the, then, Conservative Council closed it. Successive councils have tried and failed to find a way forward. Innumerable alternatives have been considered and have failed to satisfy planning, environmental or financial requirements, or have alienated some segment of local opinion. Unless a compromise is agreed, the site is likely to remain in permanent dereliction. I fully understand that many residents want a better outcome but this is a case where the best may be the enemy of the good."
At a packed and frequently noisy meeting at York House on 27th April, the Council Cabinet selectedCountryside Properties to carry out the development of the swimming pool site.
Angela Kidner, the Trust's Projects Manager, said: 'This is a terrific result for the Trust. We were really heartened by the support we have received from many local residents and business people who understand what a valuable resource the River Centre will be, and recognise the need for a lively mixed development on the site which will help to ensure the future of the riverside's historic working character.'
24 April 2009 - Council Cabinet Meeting on 27 April: documents now online
At the meeting at York House at 7.00pm on Monday 27 April, the Council Cabinet will receive the results the evaluation of the schemes put forward by the three shortlisted developers, and of the public consultation, and will decide on the preferred developer for the Twickenham swimming pool site.
18 April 2009 - Alternative Schemes: the questions
As well as the three development schemes that the Council is evaluating for the swimming pool site (see below), several quite different alternative schemes have been put forward by local groups and individuals. In order to establish their credibility, it's important that there are answers to The Big Questions about the Alternative Schemes (2 pages, 90KB .pdf).
Update, 31 March 2009 - Twickenham Poolsite Consultation
The three developers' projected schemes for the Twickenham poolsite are now under consideration by the Council's evaluation panel. They will report to Cabinet on 27 April.
Plans from the three schemes can be downloaded from the Council's website. Beware: larger files can take a long time to download even on a broadband connection. Option 1 (Countryside Properties)
Alternative Schemes: Please note that the Council's consultation, in which the Environment Trust is taking part, is quite separate from the Friends of Twickenham Riverside's display of alternative schemes. The alternative exhibition contains at least eight proposals of variable credibility and amounts of detail. Proponents of some of these schemes claim that funding would be available, though the sources are not disclosed.
There's also a report on the Between the Locks project to record the working lives on the Thames, and updates on the work of the Trust and future projects.
24 February 2009 - Environment Trust's Press Release
The Environment Trust congratulates Richmond Adult and Community College (RACC) on having obtained outline planning permission for the major redevelopment of its Clifden site.
Last August, the RACC approached the Trust and proposed a partnership to deliver environmental education in the Borough, using the facilities of the RACC and Twickenham River Centre. Recently, RACC informed the Trust that it has scaled down its ambitions in this sector and, due to the proposed development at its Clifden site, no longer wished to use the River Centre building. RACC will however continue to work with the Trust to deliver environmental education programmes.
This development does not impact on the viability of the River Centre but it does provide capacity in the two classrooms proposed for the River Centre for other activities. The work with the RACC over the last 6 months has helped to confirm the considerable demand across the education sector for linkages with the broader environmental community. The River Centre, with its wide network of environmental and community partners, will be ideally placed to help meet this demand.
The Trust is already in discussions with a number of other education providers and plans to start delivering environmental education programmes with the RACC and other partners later this year. These programmes will ramp up over the next two years so that a lively and interesting programme of environmental education will be available, with opportunities for all ages and abilities, when the River Centre opens in 2011.
Jenny Pearce, Chair of the Environment Trust for Richmond upon Thames
12 February 2009 - Second response to the Save Our Riverside Group's further questions on the River Centre business plan
Rob Gray's response to the questions from the Save Our Riverside group about the Environment Trust's Business Plan for the River Centre (.pdf, 97KB, 8 pages). Rob is the Building Manager for the River Centre and the main author of the business plan.
22 January 2009 - Sir David Attenborough and Bamber Gascoigne video on YouTube
Why Sir David Attenborough and Bamber Gascoigne support the River Centre
Recorded on 19 June, 2008 at the Environment Trust's AGM in the Orangery, Ham House.
Sir David and Bamber talk about the Thames, dragonflies, living in Richmond, and the benefits the River Centre will bring to the borough, including an aquarium, boatbuilding, and monitoring the health of the Thames.