Key ‘exchange’ for Twickenham community building

Release Date: 18 July 2017

St Mary’s University has today taken over the management of the borough’s newest community building in Twickenham – now named ‘The Exchange’.

In 2014 Richmond Council granted Planning Consent for the redevelopment of the former Royal Mail site in Twickenham. As part of the permission, the developer, St James (part of the Berkeley Group), agreed to build a new Community Building as part of Brewery Wharf, a new residential development opposite Twickenham Train Station.

The landmark facility, which is now completed, comprises a theatre space for an audience of nearly 320 people seated, a further six multi-purpose studio rooms, a large conservatory area and various back of house and ancillary rooms.

Over the past two years, the Council has been working on the plans for how the new centre should be used, looking for a partner who would be able to manage the building and ensure it:

  • Provides a commercially viable business. The Council’s aim has been that the facility is financially self-sufficient and runs without a Council subsidy.
  • Meets the needs of Community Visitors. Providing a varied programme of entertainment, cultural, community and business interests, including a local cinema.
  • Create a community venue that is well managed and a benefit to not only the local community but beyond.

It was announced earlier this year that the Council would be therefore leasing the building to St Mary’s University.

In addition, the name of the Centre has now been revealed. Last year, members of the public were invited to submit their ideas for a name. And, following a review of all those submitted, it has been decided that centre will be called: “The Exchange.”

Today (18 July) the developer, St James, handed the keys of the building to St Mary’s University. Over the next few months, St Mary’s will continue to work on their plans to open The Exchange early in the Autumn.

The centre will have a number of functions, including:

  • Training courses for local residents and local businesses, alongside academic tuition for St Mary’s students,
  • Room hire for community groups, local residents and local businesses
  • A café in the Conservatory that will be open to the public
  • The hosting of local arts, music and literature festival events
  • Theatre performances
  • Cinema showings, band nights, comedy nights
  • Conference and event hire

The Exchange website, including contact details and an upcoming events schedule will be launched in September. For any advance queries, please contact the St Mary’s team at conferences@stmarys.ac.uk.

The University has appointed Stuart Hobday, who formerly initiated and produced the Norwich Science Festival and was a Director the Norwich Arts Centre, as Cultural Director for the Exchange.

Cllr Paul Hodgins, Leader of the Council who attended the key exchange event, said:

“This is the next stage in the Council’s multi-million pound plan to improve and enhance Twickenham.

“Throughout all our consultation and engagement, we have been told that residents want more community facilities in the area. Through this partnership, we have been able to not only extend the educational opportunities for students at the University, but also the long-term future for this local resource. All this with no cost to the tax payer.

“I hope thousands of people will enjoy the new facilities that are created. This significant regeneration project is going to bring life to a piece of land that has been derelict for so long.”

Prof Francis Campbell, Vice-Chancellor of St Mary’s, said:

"We are delighted to have formally taken over the management of The Exchange. While it is still very early in the project, we hope to put on an entertaining and thought-provoking programme of events and to offer the people of Twickenham a welcoming cultural space.

"I would like to extend my thanks to St James for the development of The Exchange which will be the heart of our local community. I would also like to thank the London Borough of Richmond for entrusting St Mary’s University with the stewardship of The Exchange."

Sean Ellis, Chairman of St James, commented:

“This site has seen major change, from a Royal Mail sorting office to a place that people feel proud to call home. Whether through the homes we have created here, or the community building for St Mary’s, we are proud to have played our part by delivering a development that has responded directly to the wants and needs of the people of Twickenham.

“The Exchange is so much more than your average community building – this is a fantastic new facility for the local community that I hope will have a really positive impact on this part of London.”

Notes for editors

If you are a journalist and would like further information about this press release, or high resolution images, contact Elinor Firth on 020 8487 5159

Reference: P339/17

Updated: 4 October 2017