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Scores of people turn out for heated Gloriana debate
Tempers flared at a cabinet meeting over controversial proposals to permanently house the Gloriana at Orleans Gardens.
Campaigners turned out in force, displaying banners, after the public was invited to attend and speak at the meeting at York House's Clarendon Hall on Wednesday night.
Concerns were raised about the proposed location for the wooden boathouse and the subsequent environmental impact on the area.
Mandie Adams McGuire, from Friends of Orleans Riverside, spoke against the plans and called on Richmond Council leader Lord True to "act with honour".
She said: "We do not object to the beautiful Gloriana being housed in Richmond - in fact, I am sure everyone would welcome it as a great project in the right location and without the huge projected costs.
"Orleans riverside is just fundamentally the wrong location.
"The entire area is of national and international importance, something we should be proudly protecting for generations to come."
Council cabinet members agreed to extend the consultation until the end of August and asked for another report to provide further details on site management.
Actor Paul Bigley, who also spoke on behalf of the recently-formed group, raised concerns over the scale of the development and safety issues.
He said: "The consultation document asked the question 'what could the boathouse look like?'
"Without being given exact planning measurements, one can only interpret by looking at the drawings made available.
"This is not a small-scale boathouse and has more in common with a significant civil engineering project.
"There are significant questions of safety involved in building a canal next to a children's playground and very real questions of security in protecting a royal vessel at a time of heightened sensitivity."
It was an evening full of tension and resent as audience members heckled the cabinet and hissed while councillors, including the leader, addressed the room.
Lord True told campaigners he thought and still hoped it could be a good project for the borough.
He said: "The council believes that Gloriana, the vessel concerned, is attractive, important and a worthwhile creation.
"There is no planning application in as yet, that will have to be later this year and won't be before August.
"But it isn't a nuclear dump we are talking about, it's an extraordinary craft created for the diamond jubilee that somewhere, sometime has to find a home."
Chief council officer for the environment Paul Chadwick explained the boathouse would be mainly for winter use, rather than in the summer, when the row barge would be in use.
The cabinet also agreed to make public a feasibility study which looked at other potential sites in the borough, such as Buccleuch Gardens and the Gothic site in Petersham Road.
Twickenham Riverside Councillor Susan Chappell, cabinet member for planning, addressed concerns surrounding the playground at Orleans Gardens.
She said: "A number of people have said to me how upset they are that the playground is changing.
"I used it when I was a little girl and with my children and people will have the opportunity to say what they want in the consultation."
Lord True added that if people wanted to keep the current playground facilities, it could be considered.
International architects Foster and Partners designed a potential modern boat house, visitors' centre, enhanced new cafe and play area, with work possibly starting early next year.
The project is still subject to funding, including £1m from the council, and planning permission.
The council's consultation is available on its website.
People can also have their say at drop-in sessions, held between 10am to 4pm at Orleans House Gallery Octagon Room on July 18 and at the same time in July 19 and 20, in the Stables.
Neighbours form action group
People moved quickly to mobilise themselves against the council's proposals to house the Gloriana in Twickenham.
Friends of Orleans Riverside formed and held its first meeting at the Turk's Head on July 3.
More than 200 people attended the inaugural meeting as queues to get into Winchester Hall snaked along Winchester Road.
Councillor Susan Chappell, Councillor Benedict Dias and Councillor Pamela Fleming were all there.
Issues with the plans were aired, with residents pointing out the only access to the site was via Orleans Road.
Paul Bigley, spokesman for the Friends of Orleans Riverside, said: "Residents already have to cope with refuse trucks routinely knocking their window boxes off."
Other concerns raised included parking and the lack of footfall along the stretch of river, unlike Hampton Court or near Richmond Bridge.
There was also disbelief further potential sites had not been explored before the selection of Orleans Gardens.
Deputy leader recalls riverside walks as a boy
Deputy leader of the council Councillor Geoffrey Samuel gave an impassioned speech, recalling evenings walking along the riverside with his father.
He spoke of the "great pride" he would feel for the Gloriana to be given a permanent home in Twickenham.
He said: "I have lived in Twickenham for 70 years, 22 of them in Lebanon Court at a time when the whole of the riverside was part of my youth.
"There was a period, in my teens, when virtually every evening, provided the weather was reasonable, I would walk with my father along the riverside.
"This is an area I know extremely well - I do have a genuine commitment to an area I love and was such a large part of my youth.
"If on that walk with my father we had approached the Gloriana, I think I would have looked at it with pride and that is very much how I feel this evening."
Coun Samuel reserved special praise for Lord True and highlighted the good work the council leader had done for the town.
He said: "I was first elected as a councillor in 1957, I have served under a large number of leaders and none of them has had a greater commitment to improving Twickenham than Lord True.
"I am proud to have him as our leader and proud to think that Gloriana could come to the riverside in Twickenham."
He also said there had to be a balance between the immediate residents' concerns and what was good for the wider borough.