Twickenham Riverside Trust has opposed a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) issued against Diamond Jubilee Gardens on the banks of the Thames.
The CPO, issued by the London Borough of Richmond Upon Thames (LBRUT), is subject to approval by Secretary of State for Levelling up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove.
The council engaged the trust at the beginning of the development process (October 2018) and reached a heads-of-terms agreement for the voluntary possession of the land. A change in trustees took place in October 2020 and, since then, discussions have stalled.
The opposition could delay the approval of a development planned for the site.
New chair of the trust, Luke Montgomery Smith, said: “We commissioned an independent assessment by the surveyors, Carter Jonas, of the quantity and quality of the public open space in the council’s development design compared to the existing space on Twickenham Riverside.
“We have been advised that the public open space provided in the CPO is not of equal advantage compared to what exists today. That means it would not benefit the public in terms of open space and the use of that land and would therefore be considered, under the relevant legislation, to be disadvantageous to the public compared to what exists today in the gardens and on the embankment.
“This is a fundamental point given the trust’s objectives.
“The basis of the council’s case is complex, and we will give more detail in the next ten days when our objection has been submitted.
“The trust must be guided throughout by the objects in its articles, which are ‘to preserve, protect and improve, for the benefit of the public, the riverside and its environs at Twickenham’, and also by the purpose for which the gardens were created and the lease granted to the trust just seven years ago.”
The trust announced its opposition via its website and, in response, Cllr Gareth Roberts, leader of Richmond Council, said: “It must be remembered that the land is leased to the trustees and made available to the people of the borough, and the people of the borough have been quite clear that they want to see a whole site solution delivered for Twickenham Riverside, rather than a piecemeal approach.
“This, therefore, must include Diamond Jubilee Gardens – which originally the trust agreed to.
“We have always been committed to working in partnership with the trust to ensure that we are on the same page. And so far, we have been. The council has gone above and beyond to accommodate the Trust while still retaining the integrity of the Hopkins design we all love so much.
“We have come so far with the plans for this site. But we can’t be left with uncertainty over the gardens’ inclusion. Our commitment to redeveloping the riverside and making it a place for everyone will not be deterred.
“Whilst it is incredibly disappointing that the trust made their announcement that they would not be supporting the scheme on their website, rather than proactively engaging with us, our generous offer is still on the table. I hope that they will change their minds and continue to work with us in the future.
“Regrettably, due to the trust’s position and the uncertainty that means in terms of delivering the scheme, we have to progress the CPO process in parallel to seeking to reach a negotiated agreement.”
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