Councillors' Attendance Statistics
THE TWICKENHAM RIVERSIDE DEVELOPMENT SITE
Report to follow.
(1) That the previous policy decisions in respect of this site described at paragraphs 3.1 to 3.8 of this report be noted.
(2) That with those previous decisions in mind, it be decided to proceed to the next stages of procurement with one of the three prospective developers and their schemes.
(3) That the views of the tender Evaluation Panel as described at paragraphs 3.32 to 3.37 of the report (and within the relevant appendices) be supported and it be agreed to proceed to the next stage of procurement with Countryside Properties.
(4) That the formal procurement decision, to award a contract via a Contract Award Notice to Countryside Properties, be delegated to the Leader and Cabinet Member for Strategy and Partnerships, subject to a satisfactory report from officers in respect of final negotiation and clarification of their tender in line with the European regulations and to there being no major new concerns of officers about the River Centre Business Plan at that point.
(5) That officers should commence the final negotiations, in respect of the detailed terms of the Development Agreement with Countryside Properties, in line with the broad heads of terms described at paragraphs 3.45 and 3.46 of this report, be agreed and the decision formally to complete this Development Agreement be delegated to the Assistant Director of Environment in liaison with the Head of Legal and Electoral Services and the Leader & Cabinet Member for Strategy and Partnerships.
(6) That a further budget of up to £75,000 for consultant support and other costs associated with the next steps for the scheme through to commencement on site be approved.
(7) That it be requested that officers produce a report on the detailed terms of the Agreement for Lease for the River Centre as outlined in paragraph 3.51 and an update report in respect of progress on the scheme at six monthly intervals.
Cabinet noted the written representations received from John Reekie, Ron McEwen, and Jack Garrett-Jones which raised objections on the grounds of the currency of financial information for Countryside Properties PLC (Countryside), potential traffic congestion, loss of public space, high-risk nature of proposed river centre, current recession and not reflecting the views of community. Cabinet also noted the written representations of support received from the Twickenham Town Centre Management Board and Sir David Attenborough. These highlighted the wider regeneration potential of the development for Twickenham, the potential support generated for local business, the sustainability and environmental improvement aspects, the elegance and appropriateness of the Countryside scheme and the commitment to ending the dereliction of the site.
Cabinet heard representations objecting to the proposals from Ron Chappell, John Perry, Scott Naylor, Sue Hamilton-Miller, Jeremy Hamilton-Miller and John Bell, which included the following points.
Ø There was no valid business plan for the Environment Trust’s operation of the office, restaurant and education block
Ø The fit out costs had risen to over £1 million while the Environment Trust had only £150,000
Ø The site was traditionally public activity leisure space and the area alongside the existing playground could be used for open air activity such as ice skating (A planning application had been lodged for such a scheme)
Ø The site was a public open air amenity purchased in 1924 and there was great enthusiasm for schemes which did not involve building on the site
Ø The political leadership of the Council had a closed mind to other views
Ø Attacks on opposition groups by the Environment Trust were disturbing as most supported the concept of a river centre
Ø Council officers had urged councillors to look at the risk assessment of the business plan
Ø High levels of grant support had not been achieved
Ø There was high reliance on income from the restaurant
Ø The Environment Trust looks inexperienced
Ø There had not been enough time for objectors to address the report
Ø The urban practitioner analysis at appendix 4 should have been more objective
Ø The planning permission for the current playground meant it had to close in June 2008
Ø The public had voted in favour of the Quad Elmer scheme
Ø Twickenham’s problems were structural and the town would not be regenerated by this scheme alone. However neither would it be regenerated by an open space or park
Ø Attempts to have sensible discussion had been abused by protestors but there was little attempt to reconcile aspirations
Ø There should be a cooling off period to allow a review of ideas.
Cabinet heard representations supporting the proposals from Rob Gray, Angela Kidner, Yvonne Hewett and Peter Dolan, which included the following points,
Ø An extended summary of the business plan had been available in public in October 2008
Ø Appendix 5 provided an update
o For education, the Environment Trust had links with virtually every school in the borough
o Relationships had been developed with Richmond Adult and Community College and Kingston University
o Adult short courses had been launched
Ø There was strong community support for the river environment
Ø The River Centre would provide a number of employment, voluntary and learning opportunities for the community
Ø The proposals were an important initiative in the face of economic recession and environmental damage
Ø The Environment Trust had worked for the benefit of the community for 25 years and had been consulted on proposed developments
Ø The Environment Trust had opposed the 2000 – 2002 Dawnay Day proposal but did not oppose the site brief under the 2005 Unitary Development Plan
Ø The development of housing as an enabler for the scheme was supported
Ø The Environment Trust could only support a scheme of which it approved as a charity
Ø The Countryside proposal included mixed housing and was not a luxury gated development. The proposal provided river views and the parking provision acknowledged the needs of other local people
Ø The design for the River Centre was imaginative
Ø The River Centre would support the boat building heritage and provide animation at the riverside
Ø The River Centre would provide a teaching tool for sustainability and would be a flagship building of national interest
Ø Learning and enjoyment would be provided for all
Ø The site would be rescued from 28 years of dereliction
Ø Those who opposed the scheme represented a part of the public and did not speak for the majority
Ø There had been misinformation about the scheme. Those who opposed the scheme claimed they had a 6000 signature petition but this was for a number of different versions
Ø There was no overall support for an alternative scheme and all putative alternatives lacked financial and managerial credibility
Ø The Countryside scheme and Environment Trust were supported as providing a positive vision for Twickenham
Ø Demands to retain the site for exclusive public amenity use are bereft of pragmatism and disproportionately favour a particular pressure group
Ø The planning application stage will deal with the form of the development
Ø There is impressive peer support for the educational and charitable aims for the proposed river centre
Ø Potential funders may have been wary of commitment to date but will recognise the reduced implementation risks once the project proceeds and receives planning permission
Ø The Twickenham river centre will be financially viable and project a favourable image of the borough
Ø The project will stimulate civic pride
Ø The stresses of recession make the need for an iconic community centre more desirable.
The Leader and Cabinet Member for Strategy and Partnerships acknowledged that publication of the report had been delayed so that the notes of the Evaluation Panel could be considered and the consultation survey incorporated. Some information before Cabinet was commercially sensitive and had therefore been included in a confidential report at Item 24 on the agenda. He stated that there had been no pre-determination and the decision of the meeting would be based on the report before Cabinet, the representations of the public and the recommendations of the Evaluation Panel. He informed Cabinet that Councillor Trigg should have been included in paragraph 3.32 of the report as a member of the Evaluation Panel. There had been proper public involvement through the consultation process and representations from local societies. This consultation was not a referendum. Cabinet noted that it had not seen a petition of 6000 signatures and the Chief Executive stated that she had not received this petition.
The Assistant Director of Environment was invited to comment on some of the issues raised and advised that the decision to pursue the river centre concept had come out of the Twickenham Challenge process. The development brief process emerged and European Union processes were followed. Consultation was undertaken at each stage. The Environment Trust business plan had been considered and subjected to scrutiny. If Cabinet were minded to agree to the report recommendations, the next stage would be submission of a planning application which would allow further wide public involvement. Although the proposal had financial implications of £75,000 in terms of further consultancy costs and significant sums spent on preparation to date, the scheme would bring benefits of more than £4 million. He advised that although the pool site had been a public amenity it had never been free of charge. The accessible public space in the proposal which included the area above the River Centre amounted to around 42% of the site with housing taking up around 26%. The current playground would not close in June 2009 and its life would be extended to as close to the point of construction as practicable.
In terms of the financial standing of Countryside, the Director of Finance and Corporate Services acknowledged that any company could only be judged on information in the public domain. The Council used a company called ICC to track companies and gain the most up to date information available.
In discussion, Cabinet considered that this was the first of any of the many schemes proposed since the pool closed in 1981 that related to the river. While the scheme could not be seen as a cure-all for Twickenham it would bring clear economic, social and environmental benefits. The current state of the site was a disbenefit to Twickenham. The process for this scheme had taken more than five years and further delay would mean designing the equivalent of a new T1 project consistent with the Local Development Framework Core Strategy. The scheme designed by Countryside was imaginative and meant that Twickenham would have a beacon development. New public open space would mean a dramatic improvement to the riverside. The Council should be place-shaping for the present and future and the current scheme was the best proposed. It would provide a facility for all age groups. The Environment Trust business plan had been discussed fully by the Co-ordination, Finance and Performance Commission and the Evaluation Panel process had been rigorous.
The reasons for the decision and any alternative options considered and rejected are set out in the report.
- 09 Twickenham Riverside Cabinet Report, item 243. PDF 113 KB
- 9a Twickenham Riverside Appendix 1, item 243. PDF 15 KB
- 9b Twickenham Riverside Appendix 2, item 243. PDF 52 KB
- 9c Twickenham Riverside Submissions Review Appendix 3, item 243. PDF 27 KB
- 9d Twickenham Riverside APPENDIX 4, item 243. PDF 2 MB
- 9e Twickenham Riverside Appendix 5, item 243. PDF 45 KB
- 9e(i) APPENDIX 5 TABLE 1, item 243. PDF 24 KB