• Option 2: Gothic House Site

Extract from the Council’s Brief

4.51 “This option is one preferred by the Council and follows the same brief as

detailed (in paragraph 4.25 above) in terms of construction but at a location

further along the river bank heading North towards Richmond and is known

as the Gothic House site. It is felt that this site would lend itself due to its

access onto the towpath and the relatively close distance to Richmond Bridge

and the Town centre.

4.52 The ‘Gothic House site’ is shown on the attached plan. It includes the building

area demised to Steins restaurant / bar. The strip in front of that is known as

Mear’s Walk and is also in the Council’s freehold ownership as far as the

towpath. This part includes the seating area for Steins.

4.53 The site was looked at by the Council around 2003 for potential development

but LDF proposals map currently shows the site as Metropolitan Open Land,

Public Open Space and within a Conservation Area”.

Site History

4.54 This site was formerly occupied by Gothic House, 51 Petersham Road, hence

the name. The Council acquired the site and cleared the building to provide

additional open space that is shown in Figures 4.7 and 4.8. The upper part of

the site has Heras fencing in place to restrict access due to what appear to be

structural problems with retaining walls adjoining Petersham Road.

Description of Development

4.55 Plans and elevations of the proposed bargehouse, crane and mooring are

shown as Figures 4.9 – 4.12

Barge House

4.56 A bargehouse is proposed at the level of the upper footpath (‘Mear’s Walk’)

requiring excavation of the upper terrace levels to provide sufficient length to

accommodate the barge. This would require a major construction exercise

including a sheet pile wall support of Petersham Road. A flat roof is proposed

that would be at the same level as Petersham Road enabling it to be used as

a roof terrace in the same way as C18th and C19th boathouses in Richmond.

The roof terrace has the protection of balustrades to a traditional design.

Crane

4.57 It would be necessary to move Gloriana into the bargehouse by crane but a

leading crane supplier has advised that it would be impractical to do so. It

would be possible to design a suitable crane, albeit with large steel sections

needed to achieve a reach of 13 metres. However, the crane suppliers say

that a crane in this location is “impractical because the size of the foundation

block required to support the crane would be enormous”. The foundation

block would need to be piled.

Mooring

4.58 A pontoon mooring is proposed with access from the towpath.

Access and Vehicle Parking

4.59 The towpath is heavily used by pedestrians and cyclists and the Council’s

policy is to restrict vehicular access. Vehicular access for deliveries and

special events is proposed in the form of a service road off Petersham Road.

A lift is proposed to provide access for deliveries and disabled people. A new

pedestrian access to the waterfront would be provided from Petersham Road.

Site Evaluation

Land Ownership, Covenants and Cost of Site

4.60 The site is entirely within the Council’s registered title TGL311371. There are

rights enjoyed by residents of 43, 45, 47 and 49 Petersham Road to pass

across the land needed to site the crane but so long as the occupiers of the

properties are reasonably able to do so this should not provide a constraint.

4.61 The construction of the pontoon in the river is outside of the Council’s title and

will require the consent of the PLA, on behalf of the Crown as owner of the

river bed, and as a requirement of the byelaws. The work will involve

interference with the river bed (byelaw 48), mooring attaching to PLA

controlled lands (byelaw 15) and creating a structure that will restrict

navigation (byelaw 50).

Operation of the Bargehouse

4.62 Having consulted with a leading crane supplier we do not believe that the

construction of a crane of the size required to lift Gloriana over the towpath

and upper pedestrian path would be realistic. In addition the towpath is

heavily used by service vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists and any lifting

operation would require significant resources to ensure public safety. The

scale of operation required is shown by Figure 4.13

4.63 The Harbour Master has concerns about this option as it would mean

Gloriana berthing on the floating pontoon in the river. “If a passing vessel

causes wash this may lead to complaints and damage to the vessel”. The

Harbour Master also raises queries about the craning operation.

Public Open Space

4.64 The upper levels of the public open space on the Gothic House Site are

underused as there is no access from Petersham Road. The proposed open

space in the form of a roof terrace on the bargehouse would increase the area

of usable public open space.

Heritage Issues

4.65 The principal issue is the effect of the proposed development on the setting of

listed buildings. The most significant of these would be the impact of the

proposed crane on views of Richmond Bridge, Listed Grade I.

Loss of trees and scope for new planting

4.66 Option 2 would result in the biggest loss of trees including a large yew tree and

a large London plane on the waterfront (shown on Figure 4.7). In addition, four

or five smaller London planes would need to be felled on the Petersham Road

frontage. Scope for replanting would be limited as tree planting would not be

possible on the proposed roof terrace.

Visual Impact

4.67 The proposed bargehouse would be some 6 metres high and therefore have a

significant impact on the waterfront and the setting of the adjoining Steins

restaurant. In addition the proposed fixed crane would have a significant

visual impact, in particular on views towards Richmond Bridge from the

towpath.

4.68 The proposed bargehouse and crane would have an impact on views from

properties at 43, 45, 47 and 49 Petersham Road towards the River Thames.

Education / Visitor Centre and Commercial Considerations

4.69 The Assistant Development Control Manager has advised that a visitor

centre/café in this location would be contrary to the Council’s policy for no

more Class A3 uses in this area. Therefore a visitor centre/café is not shown

on the plans. The only way to provide a visitor centre / café would be to do so

on the site of Steins restaurant

Flood Risk

4.70 The front of the proposed bargehouse is located within an area designated as

Zone 3a flood risk where it would be necessary to meet the Exception Test to

justify development in this location. The proposed excavation into the bank

would bring the whole of the site into the Zone 3a category of flood risk. It

would be necessary to design the bargehouse to mitigate the effects of

possible flooding.

Nature Conservation

4.71 The site is adjacent to an Other Site of Nature Importance where planning

policy seeks to conserve the ecological diversity.

Synergies with local tourism, arts and education venues

4.72 The main benefit of Option 2 would be to provide a new attraction for visitors

to the waterfront and to bring into full use the open space on the Gothic

House Site by means of the proposed roof terrace and access from

Petersham Road.

Prospect for securing full planning permission and other necessary

consents

4.73 The Council’s Assistant Development Control Manager has

advised that this site is a ‘non starter’ in terms of its prospects of securing

planning permission. This is due to its location on land designated as

Metropolitan Open Land, Conservation Area, Thames Policy Area; area

restricting further A3 uses, adjacent to Other Site of Nature Importance. In

addition there are concerns about land use, ground levels, tree issues,

accessibility, setting of historic buildings, design and scale.

Cost estimate

4.74 Huntley Cartwright estimates the cost of Option 2 to be approximately

£1,858,000. Note that the building costs and design fees are lower for this

option, in part because this scheme does not include a café and toilets.

Conclusion

4.75 We have been advised that it would be impractical to construct a crane in this

location that has the 13 metre reach that would be necessary to lift Gloriana

into the bargehouse. The lifting operation would also present difficulties on a

heavily used stretch of public waterfront. The bargehouse would require a

major construction exercise to excavated the upper terrace levels and a sheet

pile wall support of Petersham Road.

4.76 In addition to the practical challenges there are significant planning policy

objections to a bargehouse on this site.

Recommendation

Reject Option 2 Gothic House Site

_____________________________________________________________

Extracted unabridged from Feasibility study on the location of the Royal Row Barge ‘Gloriana’ (and Boat House) within the Borough. Final Report August 2013

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