Historic Royal Palaces, the charity responsible for Hampton Court Palace, has once again appealed to Elmbridge planners, urging them to throw out the revised planning application for Hampton Court Station and the Jolly Boatman site.
John Barnes, Conservation and Learning Director for Historic Royal Palaces, cited the charity’s many objections to the controversial scheme in a letter to Elmbridge Borough Council Planners. He stated, “As guardians of Hampton Court Palace, we have very serious concerns regarding the proposed development of this site and its potential impact on the setting of the palace, its gardens and park, and the surrounding area. Our concerns have in no way been alleviated by the recent amendments to the application, or to the revised proposals shown in the second application.”
He referenced Historic Royal Palaces’s original objections, formally submitted in a letter of December 2007 to Elmbridge in response to the developer’s first planning application, and reiterated in his most recent letter:
• Historic Royal Palaces’ principal concern is the detrimental visual impact the proposed development would have on the setting of Hampton Court Palace, its gardens and park, which together form an historic ensemble of outstanding national and European importance, and on key views from and to the palace.
• The bulk and height of the proposed hotel and its proximity to the River Thames and to the palace would be particularly damaging and the development would be contrary to relevant polices. Particularly deplorable is the overall density and scale of development on the site, which the developers claim is necessary to make the scheme financially viable, an argument that we question.
• Queries regarding wider matters, such as flooding and highways and transport issues, concerns about which have been raised with the Council and the Environment Agency through further letters.
• The experiential impact on visitors to the palace and the local area arriving at the train station who will be denied sight of the palace across the river. This week a glimpse of this wonderful view has been revealed with the Jolly Boatman site been cleared of the unsightly overgrown foliage.
In particular regarding the second, revised application:
• The second application is substantially the same as the original, aside from a different architectural treatment of the proposed hotel and a revised scheme for landscaping the riverside.
• Whilst the architects have ‘enveloped’ the hotel with Georgian-style elevations it does not make this bulky and dominant building more acceptable visually, or more sympathetic to its historic context. It is of greater mass and unrelieved bulk than the original ‘boathouse’ proposal and its dominance and physical proximity would diminish the importance of the palace itself.
• Minor amendments to the riverside landscaping (retention of the existing steps, landing stage and obelisks marking the entrance to Cigarette Island Park) are welcomed but nonetheless the hard urban nature of the new paved ‘public space’ between the hotel and the river’s edge remains inappropriate.
The letter of representation also references recent proposed changes to the draft South East Plan by the Secretary of State which are particularly relevant to this scheme as they concern the importance of preserving and enhancing the River Thames corridor.
John Barnes concluded his letter, “Whilst Historic Royal Palaces recognises that improvement of the Hampton Court station area is badly needed, we will continue to argue that the former Jolly Boatman site should remain free of any significant development and should be landscaped as an extension to Cigarette Island Park in order to protect the vitally important setting of Hampton Court Palace. We maintain that an appropriate planning solution for the whole site included in these applications must recognise the historic significance of the area and the criteria proposed in Historic Royal Palaces’ recent studies, the Hampton Court Views Management Plan (March 2005) and the Historic Landscape Assessment and Landscape Development Strategy for the Hampton Court Station/Jolly Boatman site (March 2005). The application proposals fail to do so insofar as they address the river frontage and palace beyond…. We therefore strongly urge the Council to refuse consent for the development as proposed in these applications.”
* 'Historic Landscape Assessment and Landscape Development Strategy for the Hampton Court Station/Jolly Boatman site' study commissioned by Historic Royal Palaces in 2005.