2009: Council arrange a public vote between 3 housing schemes but chooses option which comes third. Results: majority “No housing”, second Elmer scheme, third Countryside Properties. Council chooses Countryside Properties. A river centre is planned as part of the Countryside scheme but there are doubts as to the business plan and adverse effects of a large restaurant (in the river centre) on local businesses.
Council “Linked Sites Strategy” means that no affordable housing will be built on the Riverside site but built in other roads in the borough.
June 2009: LBRuT planning committee vote to pass 3 planning applications for linked sites although no plan is in place to link the sites. It seems as though linking affordable housing to the Countryside development will be retrospective.
As a result of the linked sites strategy 3 communities are devastated. One community garden which has won 8 environmental awards including those presented by David Bellamy will be bulldozed.
2009: Community displays alternative plans in Arthur’s café on Twickenham Riverside – these are alternatives to enabling development but the Council and MP do not attend the exhibition which lasted from February 2009 until the Council closed the café in June. No discussions take place.
There is a community plan to clear the pool site which is behind a fence in the Jubilee terrace gardens. The idea is to start with clearance and bring the area into community use in stages. It is believed that finance will be forthcoming if the Council agree to the plan. No discussions between the Council and the community take place about the community plans.
Council takes over Arthur’s café when lease runs out – refuse community pleas to allow the leaseholders (community supporters) to stay on until the site is bulldozed. No planning permission for the Riverside site has been gained at this stage.
Jean Lambert MEP: Greens … are playing a vital role in opposing development of Twickenham Riverside – plans which would ruin this beautiful stretch of the Thames which is central to the history and character of the area.
3 opposition parties unite to try to stop the development: Labour, Conservative, Greens: Parliamentary Candidates: Brian Thomlinson, Deborah Thomas, Steve Roest.
June 2009 Community groups pay for a privately organized referendum to ask people whether they think the site should be sold. Leader of the Council brands the question “loaded”.
16 June 2009 Liberal Democrat party publish newsletter in support of the Council scheme. Sir David Attenborough’s photo is used although he has written the following to Twickenham residents: “my involvement is simply to do what I can to help with the (River) Centre if and when it is built.” (2 June 2009).
AGM of Environment Trust Simon Jenkins, guest speaker, speaking of controversy said that in the future people would be interested in local issues not party politics.
The Founder of the Environment Trust for Richmond (which will benefit from the River Centre building at a peppercorn rent) published a letter in the local press saying that if the cost of a River Centre [on Twickenham Riverside] is a large housing development that leaves little space for community use, it looks as though the price is too high.
Private Eye: Rotten Boroughs challenges Vincent Cable to sort out the concerns with the Council’s preferred developer.
Julie Hill (of award-winning community garden to be bulldozed) on Nick Ferrari show LBC 25: St Vince to come back to Twickenham: Twickenham is in meltdown.
REFERENDUM RESULT from Electoral Reform Services:
Number of eligible voters 4,090
Total number of votes cast 1,928
Turnout 47.1% – on a par with Council elections
Number of votes found to be invalid 18
Total number of valid votes to be counted 1,910
Number voting YES 125 (6.5% percentage of the valid vote)
Number voting NO 1,785 (93.5% percentage of the valid vote)
Council eventually decide to not to sign contract with the developer until after the May 2010 election.
Council publish press release accusing community group of lies. The Liberal Democrat website uses photo of small child making a rude gesture. Photo withdrawn following complaints.
Evening Standard, Londoner’s Diary, claims victory in helping local residents stave off the Council’s controversial plans (30 October 2009).
Simon Hoggart of The Guardian writes: “The Council has been high-handed as anything from Militant days and have now only “postponed” the shambles because the developer’s latest accounts will be be available until summer 2010″.