The Mayor of London has waded into the row over controversial redevelopment plans for Twickenham Riverside.
In a letter to former Richmond Council leader Tony Arbour, Boris Johnson said he hoped the council, which plans to build 32 homes on the site, would act with caution.
Mr Johnson said: “My officers have made inquiries to Richmond Council who have said there are only indicative plans but no planning application to consider, so until I am shown any detailed plans I am unable to comment.
“However, I hope the council as landowner will exercise proper caution as to their nature and viability before entering into any contractual arrangements that may limit assistance with exploration of competing planning strategies.
“I remain concerned about the potential of inappropriate development at Twickenham Riverside and will be raising this at my next meeting with Richmond Council.”
The letter was met with anger after it was shown to council leader Serge Lourie. He said he found parts “frankly insulting”.
In a letter to the Mayor, Councillor Lourie said: “You say you remain concerned about the potential of inappropriate development. You may be interested to know this site has been derelict for 29 years and this is a splendid scheme that will help revitalise Twickenham.
“This will be paid for by a development of 32 units and certainly does not come within your powers as Mayor unless you wish to provide the cash.”
However Friends of Twickenham Riverside member Scott Naylor said Mr Johnson’s involvement was “most welcome” and “massively encouraging” in their fight to stop the proposed plans.
Coun Lourie was called to defend himself again this week after it was revealed the parent company of the council’s preferred contractors – Countryside Properties – had made a loss in turnover of £81m before tax for the year ending 2008. The revelation came as the company’s accounts for 2007-8 were published – three months late.
Coun Lourie said although he remained confident, the effect of the recession on the company would be looked into.
In a statement by the company’s chairman, Alan Cherry, he admitted it had been a “very challenging period” but a refinancing of the balance sheets had “restorsed the Group’s net assets to a very positive position”.