Category Archives: Landscaping & Riverside

Gaucho and the Landing Stage

Gaucho, which operates a restaurant with an outdoor area on the towpath near Richmond Bridge and the Richmond Hill conservation area, applied for planning permission to operate a seasonal restaurant on part of Richmond Landing Stage. The application envisaged Jumbrellas, an outdoor cinema and take-away service. The application was opposed by The Richmond Society and River Thames Society as well as several nearby residents, and Richmond Council’s Planning Committee rejected it in robust terms.

At the same time Gaucho applied for a licence to sell alcohol from the Landing Stage not only to diners there but also as a take-away. We opposed that too. Richmond Council’s Licensing Committee considered that there were no grounds to justify refusing the application and granted a licence (which excluded operating an outdoor cinema on the Landing Stage). Although this seems perverse, the Council’s Planning and Licensing committees operate under different statutory regimes.

You might therefore have been surprised to see that Gaucho is operating a restaurant on the Landing Stage. It is relying on the Government’s extension to permitted development rights which temporarily allows restaurants to operate for 56 days in circumstances which would otherwise require planning permission. As Gaucho now has a licence to sell alcohol on and from the Landing Stage it can operate its extended restaurant for 56 days even though it was refused planning permission.

Neighbours who opposed the planning application were concerned about additional noise and disturbance. In addition to these reasons The Richmond Society opposed it because of the encroachment on Metropolitan Open Land, the river and use of the river and increased congestion on an already crowded towpath with adverse effects which may result from greater light pollution.

Landing stage at Gaucho looking towards Richmond Bridge

For many years we have opposed extending commercial operations on the towpath, particularly that part of it which is upstream or south of Richmond Bridge. The rural and special setting must be protected, and creeping commercial encroachment will ultimately destroy that which residents and visitors alike come to enjoy. The photograph shows how the new operation on the Landing Stage impedes the view towards Richmond Bridge. The blue covers are instead of the Jumbrellas referred to in the planning application which would have been even more intrusive.

We understand that COVID has taken a significant financial toll on local businesses and that relaxing the regulations is intended to boost the hospitality sector of the economy. However this must be balanced against the detrimental effect on the local environment.

Jason Debney: Rewilding Arcadia

Jason Debney, Co-ordinator, Thames Landscape Strategy returned to The Richmond Society on Thursday 12 November 2020 to speak about how a multi-year project is setting out to help the river reclaim its floodplain in a managed and sustainable way, restoring the natural processes and habitats that once governed life along the Thames.

Guerrilla gardeners restore colour to riverside

This modest plot between Buccleuch Gardens and the former Three Pigeons pub beside the Thames at Richmond was much neglected until Richmond Society members decided to do something about what had become an eyesore.

They hatched a plan to clear it and plant bulbs to restore some colour. Bulbs were duly donated and the Society bought compost and more plants. Members volunteered to do the gardening. The project had a disappointing start. Some bulbs came through, but not as many as was hoped.

“We put in several hundred pounds’ worth of plants in February, and in March a posse of workmen arrived with their mechanical digger to replace the sewer underneath and dig up round the bollard” said Nicky Wood, who chairs the Society’s Landscaping and Riverside Committee. “Not much of our planting survived the onslaught.”

Then fortunes changed. A chance encounter with Anna Kapuvari, a garden designer who was walking by as volunteers toiled away, led to the donation of more plants.

“Everything is planted now, and we think it’s looking pretty good,” Nicky said.

Volunteer Gardeners at the site

PHOTO (L-R) Volunteer gardeners Jean Loveland, Lizzie Danckwerts, Carey Clark, Nicky Wood, and Lindsey Andrews of the Richmond Society.

Thanks are due to the Metropolitan & Public Gardens Association and Taylors of Holbeach who donated 250 bulbs, Ham House for more than 300 bulbs, Petersham Nurseries for more than 150 plants, GoodGym Richmond whose members dug, weeded, composted, and helped to plant bulbs, Richmond upon Thames Council Parks Department which supported the project, Richmond Society volunteer gardeners Lindsey Andrews, Carey Clark, Lizzie Danckwerts, Linda Duffield, Jean Loveland, Hilary Pereira and Nicky Wood.

New Thames Bridge consultation response

On 4 January 2019, the Richmond Society submitted its response to the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames’s consultation about the possibility of building a new pedestrian and cycle bridge across the River Thames.

Questions 1 and 2 covered the details of who we are.  Our answers to the subsequent questions comprise our response.

3  Do you support the idea of a new pedestrian/cycle bridge across the River Thames in the borough?
Don’t know

4  Do you have a preferred location for a bridge from the five areas shortlisted in the feasibility study?
Bridge 13 (between Radnor Gardens and Ham Lands)

5  Of the five shortlisted locations, the feasibility report identified two potential sites as the most beneficial. Do you have a preference between these two locations?
Yes, bridge 13 (between Radnor Gardens and Ham Lands)

6  What do you think would be the benefits of your preferred location?
Provides Ham residents with easier access to the local facilities and greater transport options available in Twickenham. Strawberry Hill and Twickenham residents would gain easy access to green space at Ham lands. Allows easier access to a wide range of accommodation in Ham for St Mary’s students and staff.

7  Do you have any concerns about the sites and locations?

The capital cost comparisons appear to have been based on a cable tied construction with supports of up to 21m, approach ramps with a 1:20 gradient and a deck width of 4.5m. While this may not be the final design it is apparent that any option would require substantial space and be intrusive into the landscape. Furthermore, we understand that the height requirements of bridges in the tidal stretches may have been underestimated by up to 2m as they are not allowing for navigation during high tides. Based on a 1:20 gradient that adds significant extra length to the approach ramp requirements, most especially if they are also designed to offer a dry route during high tides.

At Richmond Bridge the police have expressed concerns about the risk of a pedestrian and cyclist collision resulting in someone being pitched into the river. This risk must be mitigated for these bridge proposals and open clearance of 3.5m on the over water deck may feel a bit tight for a combined two way flow of pedestrians, pets and cyclists.

With regard to bridges 15 and 13, the consultants appear to have used a narrow interpretation of the width of the protected views from Ham House and Richmond Hill and determined that neither of these bridge options would have an impact. We think this is optimistic and, while designs are yet to be produced and the impact is not known, The Richmond Society could not support any proposal that impinges on protected views. The views from the riverbanks back towards Richmond Hill are also important.

These bridges and their approach routes would need lighting at night. This creates concerns about light spillage into the river and/or into currently dark areas used by nocturnal wildlife (which includes protected species).

The report notes a possible impact of bridge 15 on Hammerton’s Ferry which would represent a loss of heritage and be contrary to the economic benefit aims. The Council should also consider the applicability of views raised during the campaign against developing a boathouse at Orleans Gardens..

8  How often do you think you might use a bridge at your preferred location?
Don’t know

9  Do you think a bridge would help you walk or cycle more?
Don’t know

10  Please tell us about any design elements that should be taken account of:

Designs must not impact on the views from Richmond Hill protected by an Act of Parliament.

Irrespective of any legal issues around permitting cyclists to use the towpath careful consideration should be given to mitigating the environmental impact that will arise from a more intensive use. There are particular issues at Petersham where the path is narrow, underwater at high tide and has retained its undeveloped appearance.

11  Please use the space below to provide any final comments or tell us of any considerations you think the Council would need to examine.
The Richmond Society is a civic amenity group representing over 1,200 residents across an area of benefit extending from the Thames in the west to Chalker’s Corner in the east and including Richmond’s town centre. None of the bridge proposals is physically located in the Society’s area of benefit and our concerns therefore relate principally to the visual impact from Richmond Hill and repercussions for the towpath.

Two new Telescopes on Richmond Hill

Congratulations to our friends at Thames Landscape Strategy on the opening of two new telescopes on Richmond Hill.  These are in memory of Air Commodore Robin Spaight CBE, whose wife Pat is Secretary of TLS and also of the Richmond Society.

Richmond upon Thames Mayor Cllr Ben Khosa performed the honours with Pat and Ellen LeCompte, a Trustee of Scenic Virginia, who is currently visiting from Richmond, Virginia.
Richmond MP Zac Goldsmith also dropped by.

The telescopes replace an earlier one which was installed on the Terrace in 2014 to mark the 20th anniversary of TLS. That one was stolen after a few months.

Old Deer Park Consultation January 2018

The Richmond Society has participated in the Old Deer Park Working Group for more than five years. 

In December 2017 Richmond Council issued its Draft Supplementary Planning Document for the Old Deer Park.   The consultation on this ended on Monday 22nd January 2018. Response thumbnail

The Old Deer Park Working Group’s response can be found here, or by clocking the image to the left.

The original proposals for the Old Deer Park were published by Kim Wilkie on behalf of the Crown Estates in 1999. You can read a copy of this on our website here.

Proposed Virginia Woolf statue in Richmond

Proposed statue on bench on Richmond Riverside (from consultation).

Richmond Council has held a consultation to gather views on a heritage project to create the first ever life-sized, full figure statue of the famous writer Virginia Woolf.

This would be a sculpture incorporating a bench located on Richmond Riverside, as illustrated in the picture.

The chosen artist Laury Dizengremel produced the Capability Brown statue at Hammersmith. A short YouTube video provides more information on this.

The Richmond Society is in favour of this proposal, though believes that the bench included as part of the sculpture should match those elsewhere on Richmond Riverside.

The consultation closed on 10th December.  Further information about it can be found on Richmond Council’s website.

Annual Awards 2017

Annual Awards 2017 logo. The Richmond Society’s Annual Awards for 2017 were presented on Thursday 21st September by our patron, Baroness van Dedem.  This was the 40th anniversary of the first Richmond Society awards in 1977.

Paul Martin, Chief Executive London Boroughs of Richmond and Wandsworth was the guest of honour.

This year’s brass plaque was given for the renovation and conversion to apartments of the Star and Garter.

Brass Plaque Award – Star & Garter:
Renovation and conversion to apartments

Annual Awards 2017: Star and Garter, Richmond.

London Square
Mark Lopeman
Mark Smith
PDP London
Simon Gazzard
London Square

Commendation – The Tap Tavern:
Transformation of the street façades

Annual Awards 2017: The Tap Tavern, Richmond.

Mr Sat Ghuman
Rosendale Design
Dale Atkinson
Thompsons Ltd
Joseph Thompson

Commendation – The Ivy Café:
Transformation of restaurant premises

Annual Awards 2017: The Ivy Café, Richmond.

Pegasus Group
Michael Spurgeon
Pump House Designs
Steve Fasey
We Make It Happen Design & Build
Lucy Potter
Laura Sadler
Alyssa Kirton

Commendation – Richmond War Memorial:
Cleaning and restoration

Annual Awards 2017: Richmond War Memorial.

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames
Michael Pike
Stonewest Ltd
Carl Nicholas
Toby Moore
Terry Watts

Commendation – Holbrook House:
Renovation of Garden

Annual Awards 2017: Holbrook House, Richmond.

Holbrook House Ltd
Robert Leigh
Robin Hart Design
Robin Hart


With many thanks to Helen Taylor for the photos.


Old Deer Park

The Old Deer Park Working Group (ODPG) consists of representatives of The Richmond Society, The Kew Society, The Friends of Richmond Green, The Friends of Old Deer Park and The St Margaret’s Estate Residents Association.

ODPG response to the Council’s Old Deer Park Draft Supplementary Planning Document
(December 2017)

Response thumbnailIn December 2017 Richmond Council issued its Draft Supplementary Planning Document for the Old Deer Park.   The Old Deer Park Working Group’s response can be found here.

ODPG response to the Council’s Old Deer Park Supplementary Planning Consultation
(November 2016)

Response thumbnailIn October 2016 Richmond Council issued its Old Deer Park Supplementary Planning Document.   The Old Deer Park Working Group responded to this.

ODPG response to the Council’s Pre-Publication Consultation on the Local Plan
(August 2016)

Response thumbnailIn July 2016, Richmond Council issued out its Pre-Publication Consultation on the Local Plan. In its response, the Old Deer Park Working Group highlighted the absence of a draft Proposals Map, uncertainty whether the Old Deer Park has (or does not have) a Village Plan. It also reiterated the need for the Council to resolve the significant anomalies relating to the definition of the Old Deer Park’s boundaries as highlighted in its Boundary Definitions report of February 2013 (see above).

ODPG response to the Council’s Site Allocations Plan Pre-Publication consultation
(July 2014)

In June 2014, Richmond Council issued its Site Allocations Development Plan (Pre-Publication consultation on new additional sites).
Response thumbnailThe Old Deer Park Working Group responded, expressing concern that the Council had failed to address the adjustments that it had highlighted as being necessary in its November 2013 response. This failure went against the clear recognition of the case for adjustments in the definition of the relevant zoning boundaries expressed by the Leader of the Council, Cabinet Members, other Councillors and planning officers at useful and constructive meetings held at York House on the 22nd January and 24th February, 2014. The Group once again urged the Council to effect the necessary adjustments in the definition of the relevant zoning boundaries under the provisions of the Site Allocations Plan.

ODPG response to the Council’s Site Allocations Consultation
(November 2013)

In October 2013, Richmond Council issued its Site Allocations Plan consultation, aimed at meeting “present and future needs for housing, employment, retail, transport, education, health, community facilities, sport and leisure, looking ahead over the next fifteen years”.
Response thumbnailThe Old Deer Park Working Group’s response to this reiterated the principles it had set out in its Boundary Definitions report (see above). The Group’s principal concern was that failure by the Council to remedy the designation anomalies that it had identified would leave the relevant areas of the Old Deer Park at significant risk of proposals for substantial built development damaging the integrity and distinctive character of the Park.

ODPG Boundary Definitions Proposal Proposal
(February 2013)

Proposal thumbnailThe Group’s 2012 report raised concerns regarding significant anomalies regarding the definitions of a number of boundaries relating to the Old Deer Park shown in the Council’s Local Development Framework Proposals Map, Adopted November 2011. So in February 2013 the Group issued a further Boundary Definitions report recommending that the scope of future Old Deer Park plans include:
(1) the Pools on the Park, its grounds and car park
(2) the Old Deer Park car park and the land between that and the railway
(3) the carriageway and footways of the Twickenham Road.

ODPG Framework Proposal
(June 2012)

Framework thumbnailIn June 2012 the Group published the report: The Old Deer Park, Richmond – Re-connecting the Town to its local park – Realising an under-recognised parkland asset – A framework for conservation and enhancement.
The Group’s aim in publishing the report was to provide a positive contribution to discussion and debate in the context of the falling-in and renewal of all but two of the existing leases granted by the Crown Estate for the land comprising the Old Deer Park, Richmond.

Old Deer Park Richmond: The Crown Estate Strategy (Kim Wilkie, 1999)

Report thumbnailThe original proposals for the Old Deer Park were published by Kim Wilkie on behalf of the Crown Estates in 1999:
The Old Deer Park, Richmond – Re-connecting the Town to its local park – Realising an under-recognised parkland asset – A framework for conservation and enhancement.



Queen’s 90th Birthday tree planting

The Richmond Society recently donated a black poplar tree to the National Trust to commemorate the Queen’s 90th birthday.


It was planted on Petersham Meadows earlier this week in a ceremony attended by the Mayor and Mayoress of Richmond together with representatives of the National Trust and the Richmond Society.

Chair of the Richmond Society, Professor Ian Bruce, commented: “This commemoration marks an important milestone and also helps ensure the addition of a rare native Black Poplar in ideal meadow conditions.”