Hampton Court Rescue Campaign

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Like Historic Royal Palaces, English Heritage has been consulted throughout the progress of the development. On 20th December 07, having given the recent proposals their consideration, English Heritage published its official submission in response to the Planning Applications. See below in full.



Dear Ms Biggs                                                                              20 December 2007


Notifications under Circular 01/2001 & GDPO 1995
Application No 2007/2970 and 2007/2971

Thank you for your letter of 16 November 2007 notifying English Heritage of the above application. The proposals include a residential and care home development, a new hotel, retail and commercial development, associated ancillary works and buildings, works to the transport interchange and new areas of public open space. English Heritage is particularly concerned at the likely impact of this development on views to and from Hampton Court Palace, its gardens and park; the setting of the listed Hampton Court Bridge, the banks of the River Thames and the cumulative impact upon the established character of East Molesey.

English Heritage has been closely involved in pre application discussions surrounding this site with all interested parties for much of the past year. We are keen to encourage proposals which will improve significantly the currently extremely poor visitor experience of those arriving at Hampton Court Station, the currently semi derelict public realm between the Station, the River Thames and Cigarette Island Park, the setting of the grade II listed Hampton Court Bridge and preserve the existing semi rural nature of views from Hampton Court Palace across the River to the Jolly Boatman site. Particular attention during these discussions has been given to the setting of the Palace, a scheduled ancient monument and its grade I Registered Gardens and Parkland, all of outstanding national and international importance.

English Heritage considers that the above objectives would best be achieved by an open, landscaped public space with a number of modest and carefully considered structures to provide facilities for visitors to the area, not a comprehensive and intensive urbanisation of the site. We objected strongly to the earliest pre application proposals for the site as likely to have a major, adverse and detrimental impact upon views to and from the Palace and the wider riparian setting. As a result of discussions held with Gladedale, Historic Royal Palaces and the invaluable intermediary role of The Princes Foundation the scheme as formally submitted is likely to be less harmful in its impact than initially feared, but English Heritage continues to have significant and fundamental concerns regarding a number of aspects of the scheme.

The hotel building proposed between the Station and the River is in terms of its height, scale, bulk and massing entirely inappropriate to this highly sensitive location. The introduction of such a substantially scaled structure onto a site which is currently undeveloped will have a major, adverse impact upon the established character and appearance on the setting of Cigarette Island Park, the Station and Hampton Court Bridge and in cross River views. This harm is particularly exacerbated by the detailed design of the building which is entirely inappropriate to the conservation area and the wider setting in which it sits.

The creation of a series of new public open spaces, including access to the River Thames is to be welcomed most warmly but the form and hard and soft landscaping of these spaces must form an appropriate response to the historic nature of their immediate and wider setting. The current proposals fail completely to rise to this challenge. The stone terraces and steps between the hotel and river are of a monumental scale entirely alien to this stretch of the Thames and are more reminiscent of Bazalgete's work in Westminster than the domestic and intimate nature of Hampton Court and the gentle deference to its setting of Lutyens' Thames bridge.

In a scheme of this complexity and sensitivity there remain a considerable number of matters which will require further discussion. However, I suggest as a matter of urgency a further meeting needs to be held, aimed at finding a solution to the design and appearance of the hotel and its setting all interested parties can support and one which will ensure that if the principle of such development is to be accepted in this location the outstanding significance of Hampton Court Palace and its environs will be preserved and protected.

Yours sincerely

T. D. Jones
Team Leader, Westminster and West London
E-mail: Tim.Jones@english-heritage.org.uk

HCRC and its supporters applaud the response of English Heritage in its attempt to place safeguards on the preservation of this important, historically sensitive area.