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Fosters reveals contentious plans for Queen's rowbarge centre

Foster + Partners has unveiled controversial plans for a visitor centre to house the barge at the centre of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations

The proposed dry dock and boathouse for the Gloriana – the Queen’s royal rowbarge – has already attracted criticism from locals who do not want the scheme built in woodland at Orleans Gardens in Richmond, west London.

Speaking to the Evening Standard, Paul Bigley, a spokesman for the Friends of Orleans Riverside, said: ‘They are talking about cutting a canal into the wooded area to house the barge which is 95ft [30m], a large structure, with a visitors centre and new café to go with it.

‘It is part of a wider plan to bring in more tourism, but it just wipes out another area. We don’t want it turning the place into a Disney tourist attraction, and this boat would do that – this area should remain untouched.’

An online petition Save Orleans Riverside from Development has also been launched, with one signatory claiming the proposal is a ‘blatant act of vandalism’.

The design team maintains the scheme respects ‘the specific needs of the craft’ – which was the first royal rowbarge to be built in over 200 years and was the lead boat at the Diamond Jubilee Pageant in 2012.

The local authority Richmond Council said it was essential the Gloriana had a ‘safe and secure home to act as a permanent base, with access to the water to facilitate her charitable and ceremonial functions and to enable members of the public to admire her beauty and learn of the history of the vessel’.

Lord True, leader of the authority, said: ‘This is a once-off opportunity. Other boroughs were keen to secure the privilege of hosting Gloriana. But as the only borough straddling the Thames, with centuries old royal connections I believe Richmond upon Thames is uniquely equipped to be the home of this remarkable piece of British craftsmanship, designed and built by our residents and honouring one of our greatest ever monarchs.’

Public consultation on the scheme began earlier this month and the plans will go on show in the Orleans House Gallery between 18-20 July.

If approved, work could start on site in Autumn 2015.

Foster + Partners' proposal for the Gloriana boathouse

Foster + Partners’ proposal for the Gloriana boathouse

 

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