The Gardens Trust is concerned about a proposed development on land opposite Hampton Court Palace. The scale of the development would irretrievably alter the river setting of the Grade I registered park and garden and its listed buildings. We strongly objected to proposals submitted in 2008 and 2019 and have recently raised additional concerns with the Council after reviewing the case.
The proposal is to develop 97 homes, an 84-bed hotel and retail, with associated parking and services on a site directly opposite Hampton Court, between the railway station and the river. In our view this would constitute substantial and irreversible harm to the setting of the Grade I Hampton Court Palace registered park and garden (RPG) and the numerous listed buildings associated with the Palace. It would also affect the adjacent Grade-II listed Lutyens’ bridge, a scheduled ancient monument and the Conservation Area. It is hard to think of many sites of such national and international importance.
In 2008, as the Garden History Society, we objected strongly to a previous application for the same site. The current proposal is actually taller than that plan, as only one of the two parking levels is underground. The river setting and Tudor approach of the Palace has survived until now remarkably unchanged. If this development were to go ahead it would be irretrievably lost to future generations. No amount of planting or design mitigation could make up for it.
When we reviewed the application we noted that it does not show views of the development in winter or from the significant upper rooms of the Palace. We have therefore asked that the developer should provide views from the Kings Apartment and Banqueting House to show more clearly the impact on their setting.
The tree report done in 2018 highlights that a number of the mature Horse Chestnuts that partially screen the site in summer are affected by leaf miner and bleeding canker. Therefore they may need to be removed in future, which would make the new buildings even more visible.
Since 2019 we have also become aware of the South Western Railway Act of 1913. This prohibits the erection of any building over fifty feet on the property of the railway owner, Network Rail, within half a mile of Hampton Court Palace without the approval of the DCMS. This is a material consideration in assessing the height of the proposed buildings and also reflects the high significance of the Palace and its grounds for over 100 years.
We have asked Elmbridge Borough Council to take this information into account when deciding on the application. The Gardens Trust has reiterated our strong objections to the development.
Photo courtesy Matt Brown on Flickr