The site of the former Greggs Bakery in Crane Road Twickenham was subject to a controversial planning submission by the developers London Square. They proposed to convert the disused industrial site into a smart housing development next to the River Crane with 40% affordable housing. The councillors from the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames (LBRUT) unanimously supported the planning officer’s recommendation to reject the proposal.
This was taken from from the LBRUT website: “Members noted that the site had a special designation as a Locally Important Industrial Land and Business Park under Policy LP 42 and that the policy approach as set out in LP42 had been found to be sound by the Inspector at the Public Inquiry on the Local Plan prior to its adoption. There was a shortage of space within the B2 use class and with this designation in the borough. Members were of the view that there was a need for the site to retain an industrial use to provide employment in the future. The site had been marketed for industrial and warehousing uses only and had not included any alternative use for employment purposes.
Members concluded that there was no basis for overturning policy as outlined in the Local Plan and the London Plan. There was a strong presumption against the loss of industrial space. The case that the site was unsuitable for industrial usage had not been made and the Committee was minded therefore to refuse in accordance with the officer’s recommendation.”
London Square had consulted with the council upon purchasing the site from Greggs Bakery. They had gained support from the housing, environment, and transport departments for the positive impact it would have on the local area north of Twickenham Green. The proposal was for 116 new homes of which 40% would be affordable, 1,884 sq. ft of commercial space and public access to the River Crane. The site would also include many environmentally favourable features including solar panels and cycle parking.
The bakery had been deemed as not viable by Greggs who moved to a modern commercial facility over two years ago. The site has been vacant despite marketing it as available for any use. Many of the employees at the old site travelled from outside the borough to a location with limited direct access to public transport. Importantly, in the local plan, the site is designated as industrial use and of economic importance. Reports from local Estate Agents show that there is a surplus of available industrial space within three miles of the site.
With the economy in a state of flux due to COVID-19 and proposed changes to planning laws, the future of the site is not clear. The chair of the meeting councillor Jonathon Cardy concluded that this may be the beginning of a chapter, not the end. Mark Smith from London Square also highlighted the Government intervention in planning laws that may change the outcome for a time expired site which is incompatible with industrial use, urging the councillors to consider all aspects.
London West Editorial
Ironically, some of the councillors noted that despite their support for the local plan, they may be condemning the site to dereliction. This is now maybe a case of mistaken identity. The site was originally located in an area used by ‘old style’ industrial companies which used to make and shape products in this part of Twickenham. But the area has changed, and is now surrounded by smart, expensive residential units and given its close location next to the mainline railway station, is well suited for more houses. The council is in a dilemma, either way, its looses. But as Mark Smith from London Square highlighted, maybe the new Planning Reforms will add some clarity. Watch this space, we say…..
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