e-bulletin: 22nd June
HAMPTON COURT RESCUE CAMPAIGN
HCRC previews the new proposals for Hampton Court Station and the 'Boatman' sites.
On Wednesday, the HCRC Committee was invited to attend a special preview for interested parties of the new development proposals for Hampton Court Station and the 'Jolly Boatman' sites. The consultations aimed to provide the developer with preliminary feedback on the new scheme prior to a full planning application in the autumn.
The public consultations were held at the
Thames Motor Yacht Club at Hampton Court on 21st-22nd June and allowed us the opportunity to outline our initial impressions of the new proposals. We hope you were able to attend to see and discuss the new proposals in person but if not, to leave your comments on the developer's website:
HCRC has welcomed the open and constructive dialogue with the developer and believes these proposals could be a step forward from the ruination that Gladedale's 2008 planning consent would have caused to Molesey, its heritage and the setting of Hampton Court Palace.
The new proposals will include 97 apartments, retail, an 84 bedroom Hotel situated along Hampton Court Way and a 205 space car park to replace the existing 204 space car park. The layout of the development broadly aligns with the approved 2008 scheme, minus the Hotel on the Jolly Boatman site.
New Scheme Elements
- The majority of the 'Boatman' site is public open space, this is a significant step forward from the 2008 scheme.
- The 2008 scheme layout has been superseded by a series of more evenly spaced apartment blocks. The new design now includes an extended gable-end to the northernmost block, closest to the Thames. Additional residential apartments replace the 2008 scheme's Care Home.
- The 2008 scheme's underground car park has been replaced with an under-croft arrangement with one and a half levels of parking, with entry and exit in close proximity to Hampton Court Bridge.
HCRC comments are as follows:
Extended Gable onto Jolly Boatman Site
The most significant improvement on the 2008 plans is the removal of the Hotel from the 'Boatman' site. We would however encourage Alexpo to explore options which reduce the extent to which the new gable projects onto the northernmost part of the Boatman site. This could potentially include reducing the size of the gable and/or, small reductions in the gaps between the apartment blocks. This would bring the new building roughly in-line with the existing Station building and would significantly enhance the setting of Hampton Court Palace. Importantly, it would achieve one of
HCRC's core objectives - to provide a seamless connection between the Boatman site and Cigarette Island Park.
Station Car Parking
HCRC remains concerned with the provision of parking in and around Molesey. The existing Station car park includes some 204 spaces whereas the proposed development will provide 205 spaces. We are aware that the car park is not only used by rail commuters but extensively by tourists in the summer months, noting the significant year-on-year increase in visitor numbers to Hampton Court Palace which have doubled to 1 million since the 2008 scheme was approved. We also need to consider the forthcoming Crossrail2 project which will generate increased demand for parking - this is yet to be specified by the Rail Operators.
The need for spaces can draw on the decision by the Planning Inspector in the 2008/1600 scheme's 'Travel Plan'. This required significant numbers of bicycle parking spaces and 287 car park spaces, of which 238 should be set aside for the public.
HCRC's view is that the developer and Elmbridge Council cannot ignore the Planning Inspector's considered and very detailed decision and in addition, should take account of the increased number of apartments and the larger Hotel introduced into the proposed scheme.
We have always maintained that any increase in demand for car parking must not be allowed to impact the residential streets of East Molesey where parking is already at breaking point.
(NB. The temporary safety-barriers across the entrance to the current car park; designed to separate pedestrians, cars and buses, has led to the car park being under-utilised. Thus the existing car-park data is unlikely to be representative of actual demand).
Access Road and Pedestrian Crossing
Given the significant and growing number of visitors to Hampton Court Palace, pedestrian safety at the Station should be at the forefront of this scheme.
The new car park will be accessed just south of Hampton Court Bridge, taking vehicles across the 'Boatman' site with a pedestrian crossing located in very close proximity to and parallel with the highway. The first section of the car park access will adopt the existing Cigarette Island Park Access Road presently being used for occasional grounds maintenance.
The developer is proposing a signalled crossing to manage the conflict between cars and pedestrians which appears to be based on an expectation of relatively few vehicle movements – roughly one per minute at peak time. However, the majority of pedestrians leaving the trains at Hampton Court Station move towards Hampton Court Palace in waves, grouped together. Our view is that motorists turning sharp left from Hampton Court Bridge will have limited visibility and insufficient space and time to avoid pedestrians. We believe, that many visitors will ignore the signals at this location, creating a serious conflict with cars.
HCRC encourages the developer to explore alternative road and pedestrian arrangements to minimise this conflict and increase visibility.
HCRC maintains its key objective to protect the unique setting of Hampton Court Palace and the Thames corridor as an open, riverside space for all to enjoy. We would therefore prefer 'soft edge' landscaping on the Molesey-side embankment and landing-stage, with the removal of the current Access Road along the riverbank.
Impact of Construction
The construction project could take three years (to be confirmed) and during that time the Station car park will be more or less unavailable with very restricted parking. We urge the developer and Elmbridge Council to explore all realistic options to reduce the build-time and provide substantive, temporary parking during construction.
HCRC will continue to work with both Elmbridge Council and the developers to find a solution to reduce the impact of the project on surrounding roads.
- In principal the proposed scheme appears to be a significant step forward.
- We will encourage the developer to increase the number of available parking spaces to cater for; rail commuters, casual visitors to the area, tourists to Hampton Court Palace, occupants of the proposed Hotel and apartments, and retail customers.
- Our aim is to reduce the impact of the development on the setting of Hampton Court Palace and East Molesey and we believe there is scope to improve the current proposals and to reduce the bulk and mass of the buildings that surround the historic Station buildings.
- The proposed scheme does not deal adequately with pedestrian safety and in its present form seems unacceptable. We would encourage the developer to explore alternatives that will deliver a safer Highway and road layout.
- We applaud the concept that the Boatman site will be landscaped and maintained in perpetuity as a public open space and we encourage every possible effort to maximise the quantity and quality of the public open space. This objective is at the centre of
HCRC's foundation in 2006 and it will be a significant victory for Molesey, the Palace and for our local heritage if this can be delivered.
To realistically assess this scheme we recommend that the developer provides vertical elevations of the scheme from the river Thames etc., together with realistic computer-generated renders and impressions of the key vistas. We understand that detailed drawings will be published online to enable all parties to assess the scheme. We will make them available to you as soon as we are able, following which
HCRC will provide a formal response to the developer and interested parties.
After years of the 'Boatman' being boarded up, we hope that the public exhibition will have offered you a chance to express your views. For
HCRC it would be very helpful to have your feedback, so please return your comments to us, or find us on Twitter @HCRCMary
With our thanks for your continued interest and your views will be much appreciated.