Updated: Nov 16, 2021
Earlier this week, we announced that we would be lodging a strong objection against the Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) made on 21 October by the London Borough of Richmond Upon Thames Council, which is targeted primarily at the Diamond Jubilee Gardens. Ahead of us publishing our full submission (at the end of this month) and additional information, we're keen for it to be made clear that the objection is in relation to the CPO process only, and we've developed some additional Q&A to set out where we are now.
Why is the Trust objecting to the Compulsory Purchase Order?
We were disappointed that the Council initiated this process when discussions between ourselves were ongoing. The legal advice we have subsequently received is that the public open space provided for in the CPO is not of equal advantage to what exists today and so we have no choice but to contest it. Talks between the Trust and the Council to deliver a negotiated settlement instead of a CPO remain ongoing, but having launched the CPO on public land granted to the Trust for a set period of time, the Council has put the Trust in a legal process to which we had to respond. To not do so would be a failure of our duties to ensure that public open space is protected for the people of Twickenham and all those who use the riverside.
Does this mean the Trust opposes the overall redevelopment plans? Absolutely not. The Trust was founded in 2011 with the primary purpose of preserving, protecting and improving the riverside for the benefit of the public. Riverside redevelopment is long overdue in Twickenham and we take our role as a key stakeholder in helping to make that happen extremely seriously. However, we have a statutory obligation, as defined by the Charity Commission, to ensure that any exchange or reprovision of land is ‘equally advantageous’. As above, the legal advice we received is that the public open space provided for in the CPO is not of equal advantage to what exists today and so we have no choice but to contest it. It is worth nothing that the Exchange Land under negotiation with the Council is not the same as that shown in the Council’s CPO documents. Our desire is not for a protracted legal process which delays this development even further, but an agreement with Richmond Council for the disposal of the land which ensures that, at the very least, the overall amount and quality of public open space currently enjoyed by the public on Twickenham Riverside will be available to all on a redevelopment.
Can you continue to negotiate with the Council alongside this legal process
Yes. We are currently working hard to make our submission to object to the CPO process by November 22- a deadline entirely driven by the Council - and we remain in continued discussions and will continue to do so.
When will you make the advice you have received available? In our submission to the Secretary of State outlining our objection to the CPO process, we will set out fuller details and we will publish this on our website. We will also be able to set out further Q&A on the next steps.
What else is the Trust working on? In recent months we have focused on the maintenance of the Diamond Jubilee Gardens which, whilst the responsibility of the Council, has nevertheless always been subject to active input from Trustees. We are pleased to say that we have a close working relationship with the relevant teams in the Council and in recent months we have worked together to deliver great improvements. New planting has been put down in beds alongside the cafe and the petanque courts, in addition to the central beds having been extensively replanted. There have also been good improvements made to the sandpit area with a new raised wooden border and seven replacement benches are shortly arriving for the Embankment Promenade, to replace those missing for several months. Although our events schedule for the past 18 months was cancelled because of the pandemic and lockdowns, we were delighted to have played a key role in supporting the High Tide Festival delivering a brilliant event at the Gardens. This was the first time such a large external event has been held here (all previous events have been run by the Trust or the Twickenham BID) and we intend to encourage much more external use throughout 2022, including the return of some of our previously successful events.