Release Date: 24/05/2012
The latest consultation has narrowly rejected the Council’s proposal for a new multi-million pound purpose-built youth centre in Twickenham at the front of the Royal Mail Sorting Office site.
Over 2,000 young people responded to the consultation. Of those who took part, 54% disagreed with the proposals to transfer and improve the service currently located at Heatham House to a new site, which would also be fully DDA compliant, unlike the current 18th century building.
Earlier this year over 1,500 young people from across the borough had their say about the future of Heatham House. Over 60 percent of those who responded were then in favour of a re-provision of a youth centre onto the neighbouring development, indicating their preference for a new, modern and custom built youth facility. However, there were concerns about the options presented.
The developers, St James (part of the Berkeley Group) therefore suggested an alternative option, a stand alone centre at the front of the site, while retaining all the current sports facility.
However, following a subsequent four week consultation, 1076 young people voted not to use the new site for a youth centre, preferring to retain the local youth service at its current location, with 993 voting for a new building.
Cllr Christine Percival, Richmond Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Youth and Children’s Services, said:
“Our position has always been that Heatham House would remain unless and until a new purpose-built centre designed with young people and future users had been opened. In line with our commitment to consultation I have always been clear that we would accept the result. As a new youth centre has been rejected, Heatham House will remain.
“I am pleased that so many young people took this opportunity to get involved in the decision making process. And whilst we are honouring our commitment to abide by it, I am disappointed in the final result. The current building, since it is not DDA compliant, excludes many young people from across the borough. This was a one off chance for young people to have a state of the art quality youth centre, one in which they would have been part of developing and designing. Sadly the option for a modern centre afforded by the Post Office Site development will not recur. It is an opportunity for the young people of Twickenham irretrievably lost.
“Over 30% of those who took part in the consultation are not from Richmond upon Thames; a high proportion are over 17 years old - indeed the majority of the votes to retain Heatham came from these groups. I hope that the young people of tomorrow, the majority of whom backed the new centre, understand that the decision not to have a new youth centre was made as a result of the views of their older peers.
“Considering the results it is therefore unlikely that when Cabinet discusses the issue in June, a new youth centre will be provided on the new development site. With the developers, we are now considering the scope for other potential community related uses in a similarly sized and located building at the former Royal Mail site.”