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Fosters' contentious plans for Queen's rowbarge centre scrapped

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

The local authority said it had ditched proposals to build a home for the Gloriana in woodland at Orleans Gardens, west London following a public outcry.

The council admitted that even though consultation on the plans had not ‘yet been fully analysed’ it had become clear that a ‘substantial majority’ of locals were opposed to creating a permanent visitor centre for the Queen’s royal rowbarge in the park.

A Heritage Lottery Fund application has now been withdrawn and the authority has said that it would not be looking at any other sites for the building.

Foster + Partners’ plans came in for heavy criticism after they were unveiled earlier this year (see below), prompting the launch of an online petition Save Orleans Riverside from Development. One signatory claimed the proposal was a ‘blatant act of vandalism’.

Speaking after the council’s decision to pull the plug on the scheme, councillor Pamela Fleming, the authority’s cabinet member for the environment, said: ‘It is a pity that this beautiful craft, which was conceived on our river, will not find a home here.

‘She could have been a great asset to future generations in Twickenham and the whole Borough. However, as the cabinet report in July showed, we always acknowledged the significant issues to address on this site, notably in terms of preservation of character, access and the construction period.

We always acknowledged the significant issues to address on this site

‘While we believe that with goodwill most, if not all, of those could have been addressed in a pre-planning and planning phase, the controversy that has been aroused does not create the conditions in which that could be done. We have decided therefore to let the matter rest.’

Speaking on behalf of the Gloriana trustees, Lord Sterling added: ‘Sadly, the consultation carried out following the feasibility study showed that there is opposition to using this particular site. We have therefore decided to explore further locations along the river.’

It is understood Kingston and Hounslow Councils are interested in taking the boat which was the first royal rowbarge to be built in over 200 years and was the lead vessel at the Diamond Jubilee Pageant in 2012.

Foster + Partners declined to comment.

Previous story (AJ 04.07.14)

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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Readers' comments (1)

  • How about putting it on the Welsh Harp; Neasden doesn't have that many tourist attractions, apart from the Indian Temple.

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