About sixty people attended the meeting at Winchester Hall, to discuss the possibility of a local community plan for St Margarets. It is anticipated that the community plan will be a based on community values and provide the borough bureaucracies, local councillors, other groups and residents with the guidelines to maintain and improve the quality of life in St Margarets. Also attending the meeting were the three new local councillors, elected on 4th May, four community police officers, and a representative from the council’s planning department.

After introductions Diana Rice from the council gave a brief explanation of the Local Development Framework, the current UDP, and the Borough Community Plan. The LDF will is under development and any plan that we produce will be able to inform both this and the Borough Community Plan.

Cllr Ben Khosa outlined the current position with the proposed Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) scheme, explaining that there is to be a Council Cabinet meeting on 17th July at which there will be a discussion on funding for a consultation exercise. The councillors agreed to arrange a meeting to report back the outcome.

Police Sgt. Malik introduced his team, explained their role in the community and asked everybody to attend the Police Liaison Meeting at Winchester Hall on 19th July.

The remainder of the meeting was devoted to discussing a vision for St Margarets, and identifying the issues of greatest concern to local people. These are summarised below:

Appreciate:

  • Local shops
  • Local schools
  • Community events
  • Feeling of belonging – sense of identity, different from Richmond or Twickenham
  • Attractiveness of the area

Threatened by:

  • Recent planning decisions re. Tesco, Superdrug, the wine bar
  • Too many estate agents taking over shops
  • Tesco and other large delivery vehicles
  • Parking problems
  • Too much traffic
  • Aircraft noise – expansion of Heathrow
  • Anti-social behaviour of some young people
  • Rugby crowds
  • Too few primary school places
  • Gated housing developments
  • Front gardens converted for car parking

Need for:

  • Views of, and facilities for young people
  • Views of older people
  • Protection from the advance of big retail brand stores like Tesco and Superdrug
  • More conservation areas to protect e.g. front gardens from conversion to car parks
  • Support for community events in e.g. Crown Road,
  • Support for attractive streets, e.g. hanging baskets, trees etc.
  • Less traffic
  • More cycling and pedestrian facilities
  • Enough local primary school places for our children
  • Safer residential areas

It was agreed that, although there is a lot about the area that we still appreciate, we are a community under threat. If we are to prevent any further deterioration in the quality of our lives in St Margarets we must act now to make clear what sort of community we want, and to demonstrate the strength of our opinion to the authorities.

The debate will continue online in the first instance, with working parties forming on specific topics to consider more detailed strategies that will form a Community Plan for St Margarets.

There will be another meeting later in the year.

Judy Maciejowska 7th June ‘06