Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Strawberry Hill Plan Consultation Walkabout

One of our supporters (Ben Makins of Strawberry Hill) attended the “Strawberry Hill plan consultation walkabout” last weekend. He shared with us in an email that there is a marked increase in interest in the subject of Radnor Bridge. This was mainly evidenced in the types of conversations he had with Councillors and people from the area.

Its always good to get this sort of feedback. Please keep it coming.

Ben walked with Cllr David Marlow (South Twickenham and Cabinet Member, lead for Adult Services) and discussed the bridge as they went. He also chatted with one of the planning officers accompanying them who was well briefed on Radnor Bridge as a proposal and how it might sit with various Ham and Twickenham plans and Thames strategies.

One of the barriers to the bridge discussed during this walkabout was funding. But surely this is a small hurdle to jump when compared with the benefits our area will gain on so many levels.

Perhaps, it was muted, possible Heritage Lottery Funding might be worth exploring, especially as the Fund has already invested in Orleans and Strawberry Hill Houses and will hopefully approve the Marble Hill bid. It would make sense for the Heritage Lottery Fund to leverage the benefits of their current investment, by encouraging the link-up Radnor Bridge will bring to our four famous heritage houses (Ham, Strawberry Hill, York and Marble Hill houses). Ideal for encouraging tourism.

In addition to tourism, Ben also found the walking party discussed other development issues, which need to be to carefully considered - for which Radnor Bridge can make an important contribution. These included;
  • Growth of St Mary’s University (from 5000-9000 students).
  • Associated parking and traffic problems in and around Strawberry Hill village centre.  
  • The obvious need to increasing and improve cycle ways in the area. 
  • Plans to improve accessibility to, and therefore usage of, Strawberry Hill station (e.g.; the inclusion of a cycle store in the station yard). 
  • Enhanced bus services to support the better connectivity made possible with the bridge (especially important given the number of people needing to travel daily between Ham and Strawberry Hill).
 Finally, the walkers agreed that there is a growing concern the riverside site in Twickenham remains a scheme which lacks a purpose. What this site needs is a positive and constructive approach to ensuring ‘joined-up-thinking’ through surrounding areas along the river. This must therefore include plans for the Radnor Bridge if we are to address the essential issues needed to ensure the Twickenham Riverside development is to be made right.

If this can happen then some obvious synergies will be gained for all.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Leader’s Question Time at The Stoop

Question about pedestrian and cycle-bridge across the River Thames

Radnor Bridge representative, Mark Wing, attended the Leader’s Question Time event last week held at the Stoop. He took the opportunity to ensure Radnor Bridge had not been forgotten and to ask that a formal discussion about it be included within the Village Planning documents and discussions. 

The following is transcribed from a recording of the question Mark put to the panel and the ensuing discussion /responses that followed. 

In summary
Mark was pleased to have taken the time out to attend this event. He is also grateful to Lord True for his open and honest reply to Mark’s request. And also to Pamela Fleming, for her subsequent promise to ensure a pedestrian and cycle bridge across the River Thames is included as an “aspirational project” within the Village plans. (Listen at 1:07:12 on YouTube link)

The transcript
Mark Wing: “I’ve been actively campaigning since 2010, when we had the Barefoot Consultation, for a pedestrian and cycle-bridge across the River Thames, connecting Twickenham and Ham. I’ve engaged with a number of individuals on the council but not really taken too formal an approach with it thus far. I’ve been working on some ideas with an architect (Richard Woolf) who’s based in Richmond and lives in Ham. (This evening) I just wanted to register that this is something we are very keen to see happen. Believing it provides a wonderful, truly fantastic, legacy for the generations to come.
There have been 3 or 4 bridges mooted since 2010. We (Richard and I) have always been very keen to convey that the best location for the bridge would be from Radnor Gardens across to Ham Lands and that opens up some discussions to be had. I’d therefore like to find the right opportunities and create the right formal approach to have a proper debate about this subject. We have plenty of social media conversation about it and lots of positive feedback. There is obviously also some people who are concerned about our idea and we understand that is to be expected. We just want to make sure that the right conversation is being had and that the right members of the council can demonstrate to us that they are actually actively taking an interest in this and would perhaps encourage myself and Richard to step forward and find the right, formal, way to move these discussions forward.
I’m just a resident here and I live locally. I appreciate that this could also have been raised at the Strawberry Hill or Ham Village Talks too.”

Chairman, Robin Ghurbhurun (CEO Richmond College): “So the question is really a request for a formal debate from the Council on the subject of a pedestrian and cycle-bridge across the River Thames.”

Lord True (Head of Council): “This is something that came up. I believe as an aspiration there is room for it in the Village Plan. The problem (this helps address) is the relative economic weakness of parts of Ham and the increase of footfall and movement back and forth that we need. So, socially it is a very good idea. The problem is that I’m not the sort of person who will go around promising ‘oh that’s a good idea we must do something there’ as this only debases the coinage of politics.
It will cost a lot of money. We’d have to get the right design. Have to be sure the bridge will be clear of the necessary activities on the river. Have to be sure where the footings are. And there are many of the Friends of Radnor Gardens who are not so keen for it to take off from there. So it’s an idea that the council, if I’m being candid, is not actively working on at the moment. Its something that would be nice to think about and I understand that has been the case for some time.
Maybe we ought to do more about, perhaps if there was a demand. Classically, this is the sort of thing that might be activated if it was supported by a lottery application or similar form of finance. Of course we don’t want to undermine the ferries or other river based activities. But as an idea it is certainly something I’d like to look into, but given all the other things we have to pursue it is not something we are actively pursuing. I wouldn’t want to discourage you by saying it will never happen. But remember that someone has got to write the check and weigh it up against all the other things we need to do.”

Chairman, Robin Ghurbhurun (addressing Lord True): “I think Mark is asking for a feasibility discussion, after 7 years of working on this. Is this a discussion that can be had?”

Lord True: “Well I think at some point we could once again look at ‘the river path concept’. I’m not a Twickenham person, but I find the whole river along this stretch to be absolutely ravishing. With the wonderful buildings and wonderful open spaces alongside it, makes it one of the absolute jewels – this should be one of the bright spots – in the whole of London. But it’s all divided up disparately, with different management. The property is managed differently and you get bits of Port of London Authority alongside Richmond Council areas, etc. I’ve always had this idea to get everyone to sit round the table together and make this an official group of people who said ‘yes we want this to be something special’. From time to time I give that a bit of a nudge. But its never quite got going because people have other things to do. Within that sentiment, the uses of individual parts of the river could come up for discussion. So I have an open mind about it… (Planning consent difficulties raised by person in the audience) …It would be difficult to get planning authority in Radnor Gardens, but that doesn’t mean we should canvas the discussion. Obviously it is not possible to design a bridge here. However, it is a really interesting idea and maybe if the tooth fairies were to come down and provide the funding and remove any of the obstacles it might be a nice things to see happen, but we are a long way from this happening.”

Mark Wing (response): “Thank you very much. I just want to get the debate going. It’s already happening online. We have discussed it in the past, but I’d like to know somebody on the council is interested in picking it up. We’ve used language like ‘it is a big idea. And it is a big idea that this area really does need’. I don’t see why there would be planning restrictions. I would encourage you to look at a recent article on our blog indicating five really good reasons why that particular location will work very well and you can see how the design doesn’t actually encroach on the Gardens any more than the existing pathway does. So I would encourage people to look at that. It’s not that we are trying to convey a particular design right now. We just want to get the debate happening. But a design is important for when I get fed back these kind of comments. And from a costing point of view we do believe this bridge will represent a hugely powerful and important piece of transport infrastructure for the area and when you think that it will connect Ham House, Strawberry Hill House, York House and then Marble Hill House then it really does lend something to tourism and leisure pursuits. It's the perfect midway point along the river. And on the point about Hammerton Ferries, we’re absolutely convinced that it would add value to people’s enjoyment of Hammerton Ferries, not destroy Hammerton Ferries as a business. Anything closer to Hammerton Ferries might do so but this particular location is the perfect midway point. And the other thing is that I am amazed to understand that Richmond Borough Council is the only Borough that sits across the river and yet we haven’t had a new bridge built since 1929. The growth in the population – and there has been a lot of talk about this tonight – warrants this. It will get people out of their cars and improve their use of the natural environment and as a result their wellness. There are lots of good socio and economic reasons that exist for this bridge. It would clearly pay for itself no end.”

Lord True: “Well look, you’ve made a very strong case which we’ve all heard. I did in my enquiry say that I can see the economic socio and environmental benefits of the bridge and I do believe the concept is important. But what I’m not going to do is be misleading in saying that suddenly we are going to dust this down and promise you that we will build the bridge, because I don’t have the means nor do I have the public ascent for that currently. But its an interesting idea that’s been put on the table but its not one that I personally can take to the Borough, I do what the borough asks. And so from my own perspective, I think it is a very interesting idea and I hope it stays on the table.”

Mark Wing: “Thank you”.

Pamela Fleming (Councilor): “I just wanted to add that this is an opportune moment. We are doing a planning document. We have the village planning. And while it is a rather large village planning project,… Its very aspirational for a village planning project but I think it is one to bring in to the discussion whilst we’re having meetings on the village plans and at the drop ins. Obviously there are lots of other priorities that people are going to have but I think it should be there on the table in the discussions we are having.

Mark Wing: “Thank you”.

Chairman, Robin Ghurbhurun: “So Mark you’ve got a partial invitation there, which is hopefully what you needed.”

Monday, 2 January 2017

Why locate the bridge at Radnor Gardens?

We were recently sent this feedback in an email. Our reply is below and I thought I'd share this for others to read here;

"Very useful to have a repeat of the design for the hoped for cycle/footbridge over the Thames from Radnor Gardens to Ham, fully understand choice of location from an appearance point of view, but from a cycle route point of view, just downstream of Eel Pie Island to by-pass central Twickenham would be better. Were other locations considered?"

Thank you for your positive feedback. By way of response RadnorBridge would like to share the following;

Firstly, the Radnor Bridge idea was first launched at the Barefoot Consultation in 2010 so this is not a repeat but the original idea still coming to fruition, so to speak. May we encourage you to read our blog for more detail.

Secondly, while at least four locations for a bridge were explored in the mini-Holland strategy review a few years ago (one to be located where you have suggested), the Radnor Bridge team feel strongly that the Radnor Gardens location is the best. Hence the name. There are a number of reasons for this.

Our top five include
  1. The topology on both sides at this point is most suited to a bridge crossing of the river. When the bridge starts from the proposed new mini-roundabout on Cross Deep (see details on blogsite) then it only needs to rise 2m to clear sailing masts at high tide below. 
  2. The location fits best with the landscape strategy for both sides of the river and as a key piece of infrastructure will prove to be the strategic link in the heart of Richmond Borough, offering benefits to the greatest number of residents and reducing the need for numerous cyclists to enter Twickenham town centre or cars to be on the road 
  3. At this point the best leisure pursuits access for short river strollers is offered. It is the midway point between Richmond bridge and Teddington Lock and will not challenge access via Hammerton Ferry. Indeed we believe it will encourage greater usage of the ferry boat crossing.
  4. It will connect Ham House to Strawberry Hill House, making for a lovely tourism attraction. And the adventurous may also then choose to complete the circle of all four local Houses with the addition of York House and Marble Hill House. 
  5. Strawberry Hill station is the closest station (as the crow flies) for people who live in Ham. 

We're sure others can think of many additional reasons/benefits for the Radnor Gardens location... but hopefully this is a useful starter.

Please keep your feedback coming and feel free to follow the RadnorBridge page on Facebook too.