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Twickenham town centre plans approved, but still not right for many
A satisfying consensus to the Twickenham town centre plans seems no closer after a Richmond Council meeting this week.
It was confirmed at an environment, sustainability and community overview and scrutiny committee meeting on Monday, January 7, that the council still planned to push ahead with the removal of bus stops in King Street – despite strong opposition from disable charity Richmond Aid.
It now needs to go before the council's cabinet for approval and must be backed by Transport for London (TfL).
The council’s director of environment Paul Chadwick said: “The reality is we don’t support Richmond Aid’s position. We just have not agreed with them.”
He added later: “It’s difficult to persuade people that there’s sense in change.”
Council chief executive Norton said the information from TfL had been contradictory, but said: “The preferred option is an attractive one.”
Despite the uncertainty, TfL has included the town centre scheme in its “major projects” programme and has allocated £4m in its budget.
Mr Chadwick said if TfL did not approve the plans there would be no further consultation but the plans would be changed.
He said: “The time for consultation is over and the time for doing is here.”
The plans have changed over time, with further cycle lanes introduced, but campaigners were concerned that seven advisory cycle lanes and only one mandatory cycle lane would put cyclists in danger.
Alastair Barr, from Richmond Cycling Campaign, said: “We were hopeful when we sat down with the council in November that they would take on board our comments of what was needed to make a Twickenham that people would visit, not just drive through.
“Sadly, after Monday's meeting, we're left with a design that relies on disjointed advisory cycle lanes that at one point cyclists have to swerve into the middle of the road to avoid a taxi rank. Not a design that parents will feel happy about.
“Until the council treats cycling as a means of transport, with officers who actually use the designs they come up with, will we see more people taking to their bikes to cycle to work, school or the shops. Across London, other councils are waking up to this; we only hope it will eventually happen in Richmond.”
However, at the meeting, officers stated there could not be a mandatory cycle lane running through junctions, which mean advisory cycle lanes are the best option.
The plans were approved by the administration, but the Liberal Democrats abstained from voting. The recommendations will now be heard at the next cabinet meeting.
Further changes to the town centre include removing the traffic islands at the King Street/Cross Deep/Heath Road junction and the possibility of implementing a countdown for pedestrians at the junction’s traffic lights.
For a further update, see this week’s RTT on Friday, January 11.