Residents in £600k homes on iconic London island furious as riverside development set to demolish their car park for new promenade and luxury flats

  • EXCLUSIVE: Locals on the upmarket Eel Pie Island fear their car park will be lost
  • Richmond Council has been given approval for a Compulsory Purchase Order

Residents living in £600k homes on an exclusive island on the River Thames are furious at losing their car park for a new estate and promenade.

Locals on the upmarket Eel Pie Island in Twickenham, south west London, are furious at their car park being lost for a £20million regeneration scheme – which they claim will reduce house prices.

In a bitter-planning row which has lasted several years, Richmond Council has been given approval this month for a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO), seen as a final hurdle in the plan going ahead.

It had already got planning permission for the scheme but needed the CPO to move gardens as part of the plan.

It will all be built on land opposite the island and will mean losing an open-air car park.

Office spaces, shops, a cafe, pub and restaurant and housing will be built in the area.

Residents living on Eel Pie Island on the River Thames are furious at losing their car park for a new estate and promenade

It will all be built on land opposite the island in Twickenham, west London and will mean losing the car park (pictured) and moving gardens

Helen Montgomery-Smith (left), 57, who lives on the island, has campaigned against the scheme and spoken at public meetings about it

It is all part of a Twickenham Riverside Development, costing £20 million in taxpayers’ cash and developed by Richmond Council.

The car park will go, gardens will be relocated with a new event space being built, a children’s play area, petanque pitches and terraced lawns and trees will be installed.

In the car park area there will be a new public open space along the embankment, which the council said will ‘prioritise people over cars’.

But it has infuriated locals, who claim it will see house prices drop, make the area more dangerous and more unpopular due to a lack of car parking spaces.

Eel Pie Island – nearly nine acres in size – is the largest island in the London section of the Thames and could only be reached by boat until 1957.

It is steeped in history – as well as bands like the Rolling Stones, the Who and Pink Floyd all playing on the island in early days – and has an average house price of around £600,000.

Resident Helen Montgomery-Smith, 57, has campaigned against the scheme and spoken at public meetings about it.

Ms Montgomery-Smith, from the Eel Pie Island Residents’ Association, told MailOnline: ‘I am very opposed to this scheme and so are locals on the island.

‘It is such a unique spot and this scheme badly impacts that. It impacts everyday life for all of us.

Plans for the £20million development show homes and a promenade replacing the car park

Eel Pie Island – nearly nine acres in size – is the largest island in the London section of the Thames and could only be reached by boat until 1957

Ken Dwan has lived on the Island for 60 years and said the plan doesn’t have local support

‘Losing the car park is a big negative. It will impact the area and mean people are less likely to want to come and visit.

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‘I am campaigning against this on behalf of people on the island and locals of Twickenham who will also be badly affected.

‘There is no logic behind it.

‘The public around here in their vast swathes have told us this is not on, it’s not appropriate and they do not want it.’

Ryan Jenkinson, 49, who works as a builder and lives on the island said the car park issue was ‘a massive problem’.

He said: ‘This development has been spoken about for many years and has crossed into politics.

‘It’s a case of if it’s not broken then don’t fix it. The car park not only provides us with spaces but is frequently used by locals and visitors.

‘There’s no logic behind getting rid of it. It will drive people away. More homes are not the answer. The area is big enough and already services are stretched.

‘This is a beautiful area and it will be spoiled by the development. I have no doubt house prices will decrease and it will lose that special edge it had.

‘It needs to be left alone. Our views will be changed and they have been like this for generations. I don’t understand the need for change.’

Local Ken Dwan, 75, added: ‘I have lived here for 60 years and I will be dead before they develop it.

‘They can talk all they want but it will not happen. It does not have local support.’

Island local Doug Garrett, 81, said he was also against the development.

The retired local government officer said: ‘Parking around here is crucial. It will be a big loss not having the car park.’

His wife, Penny, aged in her late 70s, was mugged on the riverside several months ago.

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She feared losing the car park will make the area more unsafe.

The retired designer said: ‘It was a frightening experience. I fear losing the car park will make it a no-go area and will attract undesirables.

‘I was mugged a few streets away near no cars or lighting. Losing the car park I think makes it more unsafe.

‘I am against the scheme.’

Another said: ‘I think it’s a monstrous idea. I think it has been developed and thought up by people who don’t live here, don’t understand what it is like to live here and do not want to hear what people who live here think.

‘The level of consultation has been poor. Our thoughts and voices have not been properly taken on board.

‘I will move if this goes ahead and so will many others.

‘It has no advantages. Just more people, more pollution, more noise, nowhere to park and it will lose its charm.

‘Why not keep this special place like it is?’

One contentious issue will see the area’s Diamond Jubilee Gardens moved.

Earlier this month, the Planning Inspectorate and Secretary of State approved Richmond Council’s use of Compulsory Purchase Powers to acquire the land within the gardens.

Plans show new gardens and a promenade with food stalls and children’s play area on the car park space off Eel Pie Island

Locals on Eel Pie Island claim demolishing the car park it will see house prices drop, make the area more dangerous and more unpopular with tourists

Eel Pie Island is an exclusive enclave with homes costing an average of £600k  

Beth Pearce disagreed that the plans were bad news and said: ‘Change can be a good thing’

This was seen as a major step in the development being able to go forward.

But the scheme does have some support among locals.

Beth Pearce, 34, said: ‘Change can be a good thing.

‘A lot of the arguments against I think are flawed. More housing and more local shops can only be a good thing.’

Liberal Democrat Councillor James Chard, for Twickenham Riverside, said: ‘Pay and display parking is available in much larger amounts across several significantly larger car parks in Twickenham. 

‘Residents’ parking will be reprovided across the wider controlled parking zone – there will be a net reduction in spaces, but there are enough for measured demand.

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‘That whole area will be more pleasant for residents as all remaining parking will be for residents so traffic volume, people looking for a pay and display space, will reduce very significantly. 

‘There is also a new space with ample provision for deliveries etc to Eel Pie Island (which you’ll understand is a pedestrianised island with access via a narrow footbridge only).

Councillor Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, said: ‘It has taken a long time to get to this stage, but we are delighted with the Planning Inspectorate’s decision.

‘This is a crucial step in delivering something that residents have been asking for four decades; a scheme that connects the riverside with the town and acts as a magnet for both residents and visitors.

‘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 views.

‘I hope that those who opposed the scheme will put their objections to one side and join with us to deliver a regenerated heart for Twickenham.’

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