A South West London town centre will change forever after plans which split thousands of locals were approved.

The future of Twickenham Riverside has finally been decided after 40 years of uncertainty which saw the site sitting derelict.

The scheme from Richmond Council will see 45 new homes, shops, cafés, open space and a pub built next to the River Thames in Twickenham – connecting the riverside to the town centre.

A petition supporting the scheme was signed by more than 3,000 people.

The authority will bulldoze old buildings and a car park on the site to make way for the development.

But the revamp also drew fierce objection, with more than 2,500 people signing a counter petition against it in one week.

Residents objected to moving Diamond Jubilee Gardens for the construction of the five-storey apartment block and raised concerns that access to Eel Pie Island will be too difficult or dangerous.

The council plans to limit car access along the embankment between Wharf Lane and Eel Pie Island Bridge for most of the day to prioritise pedestrians and cyclists.

Wharf Lane and Water Lane will become two-way routes to maintain access for nearby residents and businesses, while the embankment could be used by lorries for loading for businesses in the early morning.

But locals hit out at the scheme at a planning meeting on November 24. Helen Montgomery Smith, from Eel Pie Boatyard, said limiting lorry access to “very early hours” isn’t practical.

She said: “We are for the local and wider community in Twickenham, and all the users of the riverside, but we want this access and servicing to be practical, feasible, functional and safe – this current proposal is not.”

Twickenham Riverside Trust, which has a 125-year lease on Diamond Jubilee Gardens, also slammed the scheme – raising concerns about its scale, safety and pollution.

Ted Cremin, chair of the group, said the revamp “does not require the wasteful destruction of the existing gardens”.

He said: “Addressing dereliction and removing parking must not be used as an excuse to build a 21-metre white elephant on our riverside.

"Now is the time to pivot to a lower-cost, lower-impact, more sustainable plan that privileges public open space over buildings.”

But other residents argued in favour of the scheme, designed by Hopkins Architects.

Resident Anthony Strudwick said creating the scheme will “provide an area in the centre of Twickenham for people to gather without the risk of breathing in air polluted with vehicle fumes”.

Architect Deon Lombard added: “An inability over more than three decades to deliver a viable solution has left us with a dereliction and a parking lot – a long-standing embarrassment to our community.

"This scheme offers a democratic solution by a world-class architect delivering beneficial use which has received overwhelming support.”

Chris Bannister, director of Hopkins Architects, said the scheme creates “a space that will act as a focal point for the local area, reconnecting the town centre with the river and creating somewhere for exciting things to happen”.

After the scheme was approved by the committee, Lib Dem council leader Gareth Roberts said: “Currently the site is dominated by a car park that doesn’t allow people to make the most of the river or to enjoy the beautiful riverside vistas.

"This scheme will connect the riverside to the town and ensure Twickenham is a thriving town centre for many years to come.”

Although the scheme won planning permission, Twickenham Riverside Trust plans to oppose the council’s compulsory purchase order of the gardens – required for the revamp to go ahead – at a public inquiry next June.