An award-winning community garden is set to be destroyed to make way for affordable housing on three streets in the borough.

At a packed meeting of the planning committee last Thursday, plans to build social houses in Sherland Road, Twickenham, and Railway Road and Shaklegate Lane, Teddington, were approved by the council.

The housing is planned for the land on which lock-up garages and the community garden currently stand, as part of the council’s Link Site Strategy.

The strategy means the council will not have to provide social housing in the 32 luxury high-rise dwellings proposed to be built on the Riverside site in Twickenham because it is being provided elsewhere.

Current council policy dictates all large sites must include affordable housing and the Tories branded it an "outrageous plot to allow the council to exempt itself from its own rules".

At the meeting, Hampton North ward Councillor Kate Howard accused the council of pushing through the decision before planning consent to build on the riverside had even been granted - and urged members to defer the application as an abuse of process.

The Conservative councillor said: "A democratic council would wait to see if the scheme is going ahead. But not these Lib Dems. They are hell bent on driving ahead with their discredited scheme.

“Of course we want more affordable housing - but this whole disgraceful plan is due simply to the fact these Lib Dems have rejected it for their Riverside scheme.”

In Sherland Road, residents have spoken of their upset at the decision, as it will mean their community garden, which has won eight awards, will be demolished.

Resident Julie Hill said: “Four mature street trees will be gone and we won’t have any green space left. We’ve had to pull out of this year’s Richmond in Bloom competition as it would be embarrassing.

“People in the road have got to know each other because of the garden. I’ve suggested they build behind the trees but the officers wouldn’t give me an answer.”

But Councillor Stephen Knight, deputy leader of the council, said the area was in need of a makeover.

“These are little used pieces of land or garages which are largely derelict, which are going to provide high quality affordable homes for people in the area who are in dire need of housing," he said.

“The Conservatives are the people who first allocated the sites in 2004 so it is completely hypocritical to now turn round and attack us for building there.

“Even if the riverside proposal isn’t approved we still need to find affordable housing.”

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