RIVERSIDE DEVELOPMENT SCHEME  

The Background

Over the past 40 years, there have been several proposals for the redevelopment of the Twickenham Riverside, none of which have yet come to fruition.  The Trust currently holds a lease of 125 years on the Diamond Jubilee Gardens, a much loved area of public open space, located in a prime position on the Embankment and therefore are a key stakeholder for Richmond Council in their ongoing work to bring forward proposals in consultation with the local community. 

 

The Trust is working hard to improve the provision of public open space within the Council’s proposed scheme. Our statutory obligation, as defined by the Charity Commission, is to ensure that any exchange or reprovision of land is ‘equally advantageous’ to the people of Twickenham. We are optimistic that a fair agreement with Richmond Council will be reached and we will do our best to keep you updated through the news section of our website.

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Timeline Summary of the RIBA Competition Twickenham Riverside Development
  • October 2018: The Trust agrees with the Council’s proposal that the Diamond Jubilee Gardens, subject to both the Charity Commission Guidance (see section below), and the Trust's 'Principles for Development', are included in a proposed RIBA Competition for the development of Twickenham Riverside 

  • December 2018: The Local Stakeholders Reference Group (SRG) meetings start, inputting into the RIBA Competition Design Brief.  The Trust is a member of the SRG. 

  • March 2019: Launch of RIBA Competition for Twickenham Riverside

  • June 2019: RIBA Competition shortlisted candidates prepare their proposals

  • September 2019: Public consultation on the proposed schemes from the five shortlisted candidates 

  • November 2019: Hopkins Architects is named the preferred bidder, as chosen by the RIBA Competition Design Panel 

  • November 2019 onwards: The Trust enters into legal discussions with the Council regarding the terms of a new lease, subject to the reprovision of the Gardens in accordance with Charity Commission Guidance and the Trust's 'Principles for Development'.

  • February 2020: The Council's Finance Committee approves the appointment of Hopkins Architects

  • July-October 2020: Following input from the Environment Agency, the competition-winning design undergoes changes

  • October 2020: Eight new Trustees are appointed to the Trust, with five ‘founding’ trustees standing down, having served the Charity Commission recommended maximum term of office of nine years

  • December 2020: The Trust’s newly formed Design Team (consisting of four trustees, two of whom are qualified architects) embarks on a series of meetings with Hopkins Architects

  • December 2020: The Council suspends plans for a potential Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) on the Diamond Jubilee Gardens to allow negotiations to continue with the Trust. 

  • January 2021: The Council begins public consultation on the plans. Info here.

  • March 2021: The Council publishes the results of its consultation, to include its engagement with Children and Young People.

  • April 2021: the Council announces that in June 2021 it will use Compulsory Purchase Order Powers to obtain Diamond Jubilee Gardens, should negotiations with the Trust not result in an agreement.

Charity Commission Guidance regarding “charity land”

The Twickenham Riverside Trust is a charity and is therefore subject to Charity Commission guidance and regulations.

 

The Charity Commission has produced a 32-page Guidance document: “What trustees need to know about disposing of charity land.” The full Guidance can be read here.

 

The Guidance outlines what trustees ‘should’ do and what trustees ‘must’ do. When it is indicated that trustees ‘must’ do something, this means that there is a specific legal or regulatory requirement that must be complied with.

 

One of these regulatory requirements relates to when the “original donor” of the land (in this case, the Council) is involved in any transaction. In these circumstances, a charity must obtain an Order, or permission, from the Charity Commission before it can complete any transaction.

 

To obtain an Order, the Trust will need to present a case to the Charity Commission that the disposal of its land is in the best interests of the Trust, that it will further the purposes of the Trust and that it will be beneficial to the Trust. The proposed terms of any transaction must be the best that can be reasonably obtained and any replacement land must be of “equivalent amenity value.”

 

The Trust’s legal representatives at BDB Pitmans are specialists in both charity and property law, and have been advising the Trust in its negotiations with the Council since November 2019.

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Frequently asked questions

What is the Trust's role in the proposed Twickenham Riverside development?


The Trust is liaising closely with the Council and its architects. The Trust has a 125-year lease on the Diamond Jubilee Gardens, held in trust as public open space for the people of Twickenham and beyond. In late 2018, the Trust agreed to include this protected public open space in the Council’s wider plans for Twickenham Riverside, subject to being able to obtain an Order (or permission) from the Charity Commission for any resulting changes to the location of Diamond Jubilee Gardens. The Trust is a charity and needs to be able to demonstrate to the Charity Commission that the reprovided Gardens are at least as good as, though ideally better, than the existing public open space, and that the overall development enabled by the inclusion of the Diamond Jubilee Gardens as part of the development site advances the Trust’s objects and “protects, preserves and enhances” Twickenham Riverside. The Trust has this statutory obligation to seek permission from the Charity Commission to ‘dispose’ of the Diamond Jubilee Gardens even though it is the intention that a ‘new’ Diamond Jubilee Gardens will be simultaneously reprovided.




How will the Trust decide if a new Diamond Jubilee Gardens have been appropriately reprovided?


The Trust has a statutory obligation to refer to Charity Commission guidance regarding disposing of charity land. Accordingly, the Trust has appointed a legal team with experience in both charity and property law, and if and when appropriate, an independent surveyor’s report will be commissioned. When the land in question is “designated land”, as is the case with Diamond Jubilee Gardens, in some cases the charity must conduct a public consultation. Even where it is not a legal obligation, the Charity Commission advises that this is good practice. The Trust plans to do this shortly. The Trust is also liaising with and seeking feedback from local Stakeholder Groups, many of whom were part of the RIBA Competition Stakeholders Reference Group.




What criteria are the Trust using to guide its decision to seek an Order for disposal of charity land from the Charity Commission?


Charity law dictates that the Trust must always consider what is in the best interests of the charity, with reference to its Objects. This is one of the trustees’ main responsibilities and the Charity Commission emphasises that this must be borne in mind throughout the decision-making process. To that end, the Trust had carried out a week-long survey of existing users of the Diamond Jubilee Gardens. A detailed report can be found here and a shorter two-page summary can be found here. Key points from this survey were used to inform some of the Trust’s ‘Principles for Development’, submitted to the Council in December 2018 during early discussions about a riverside development. These development principles subsequently underpinned the section about the Diamond Jubilee Gardens in the June 2019 RIBA Competitions Design Brief for Twickenham Riverside. In seeking an Order from the Charity Commission, the Trust will therefore be looking at how successfully any reprovision of the charity land responds to the section about Diamond Jubilee Gardens in the RIBA Competition Design Brief, and also taking into account how the development as a whole addresses both its Objects and the RIBA Competition Design Brief, as created with input from local Stakeholder Groups. This latter is important as, in seeking an Order, the Trust needs to indicate any opposition to the disposal of the land (and by extension what any disposal thereof enables) and what measures the Trust has taken to resolve any opposition.




What is the timeframe of the proposed development?


The Council’s Twickenham Riverside Development website pages provide the most up-to-date information. With respect to those elements that relate most directly to the Trust, it is not possible, given that no two cases are identical, to indicate with any certainty how long the Charity Commission would take to respond to the request for an Order to dispose of charity land.




How is the development progressing?


Hopkins Architects designed the Trust’s preferred scheme in the Summer 2019 RIBA Competition though there were aspects that the Trust was looking to see further developed. To date, both versions of a proposed ‘new’ Diamond Jubilee Gardens shown to the Trust (June 2020, September 2020) were part of proposals that the architects had to subsequently revise following representations from statutory bodies with planning remits: the Environment Agency and the Port of London Authority. The Council and Trust are working together to ensure that the scheme opens up the Riverside and the re-provisioned land for the Diamond Jubilee Gardens meets the Charity Commission Guidance.




How much will the proposed development cost?


The Council, as and when it considers appropriate, makes financial information relating to the proposed development available. This can mainly be found in material (Agendas, Minutes, webcasts) related to meetings of the Council’s Finance, Policy and Resources Committee or meetings of the full Council.




Where can I find out more?


Project news is also available via the Council’s website, where there are several pages dedicated to the Riverside Development. There you will find information about, amongst other things Frequently asked questions.




Have a question?


If there is something specific you would like to ask, or have a comment about anything you have read on this website or about the development of Twickenham Riverside, we would be very happy to hear from you at: twickenhamriversidetrust@gmail.com