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Current Issues

Hurst Meadows

A planning application submitted in 2016 to build a warehouse-style water activities centre opposite St Alban's Riverside on the Molesey riverbank at Hurst Meadows was withdrawn in 2017. The Trust joined with all local residents and riparian organisations in opposing the introduction of a very large modern building - 30m x 10m x 8m high - into the heart of the Arcadian riverside and on the functional floodplain, within a site of nature conservation importance.
The Trust was also concerned that the development would require clearance of about 25m of riverbank vegetation and interrupt users of the Thames Path, with dozens of boats having to be hauled from the boathouse to the water's edge. There were serious concerns for the safety of groups of very young novices in small craft playing and practising out on the water of a busy navigation.
The Thames at this point runs between upstream and downstream islands, and boats to and from Molesey Lock criss-cross the navigation in a haphazard manner. The reach is also heavily used by other clubs, including for sailing and for rowing with singles, doubles, fours and eights, and fast chase boats. The Environment Agency strongly objected to the application on all grounds. However, we have been advised there may be a second application.

Jolly Boatman

The derelict site of the old Jolly Boatman at the Molesey end of Hampton Court Bridge has been an eyesore for decades. Everyone wants to see sympathetic development of this site, which is long overdue. However, various schemes proposed by various owners/developers over the years have been inappropriate and unsympathetic to the location.
Elmbridge Council's decision to grant planning permission for a hotel next to the river and high density residential and retail development of the areas around the station caused a local outcry, and it was decision was taken despite clear, well-founded opposition from Moleseyís Borough and County Councillors.
Local voluntary organisations have also been prominent in opposing the developments proposed, including Hampton Court.
Despite a permission, there has been no progress on the site by the developers. It remains empty and boarded.

Hucks Boatyard

Hucks Boatyard served river users for many decades. The site is clearly identifiable from its fine Swiss chalet - an ornate construction imported from Switzerland about the turn of the 19th century. The more recent planning history has grown, beginning with the current owner securing permission to turn the chalet into a restaurant. However, this was superseded by moves to develop the site without first seeking any planning permission at all. What we see in place - pillars, pontoons, large residential boats and encroachment into the river - is not acceptable either to the Trust, the Environment Agency, the Council or any other local organisation.
There is no longer a working boatyard and dry dock, new residential buildings have been erected and there is a declared intention to moor a dozen or more huge modern houseboats to a series of pilings that now extend far out into the navigation channel and impact on river flows.
The Trust, along with numerous other local organisations and residents, has objected in the strongest terms to this blatant flouting of every regulation in a conservation area. The Council has been in a long drawn-out legal effort to rectify the situation. This has dragged on for years with the owner appealing against orders and failing to comply with appeal decisions. The Trust and members of the Trust have attended planning inquiries to ensure local opinion is heard. There is also police involvement on other issues, to add to complications. However, the Trust is faintly hopeful of getting some of the river and riverside park back for navigation and local people - some time in the future.

Illegal Moorings

Unauthorised mooring of houseboats along the Hampton bank of the Thames has been a problem for some time. River users are permitted to moor for up to 24 hours in passing - an old, established right - but there was a permanent houseboat colony moored at St Alban's Riverside Park for years. There are no facilities or services, and rubbish was a frequent problem. There have been cars and motorbikes illegally parked on the grass and part of the river wall has been dismantled.
Following strong protests from the Trust and many others, Richmond Council, owners of this park, put new byelaws in place, giving it powers to move on offending vessels. It has been very successful and we now have the riverside park back, safe and welcoming for everyone to enjoy, with restoration of the Arcadian View across to Molesey's Hurst and Meadows.
However, the wider problem persists with unauthorised live-aboard vessels large and small upstream and down. The Environment Agency has been to the County Court on several occasions to try to resolve the unauthorised mooring by bulky vessels used for short-term lodgings, which are a particularly offensive development. With a plethora of land-owners - Surrey, Elmbridge, Environment Agency, Hampton Court, Thames Water - the Trust is working with others on a broader solution.
There have been letters from Ministers to say this problem along the waterways is recognised, so we wait and see. Meanwhile - apart from moorings on Richmond's land - vessels move around or simply stick where they are, leading to no-go areas along the Thames Path and rubbish that blights the riverbanks.

Garrick's Temple

The Trust takes a continuing keen interest in this unique Grade 1 listed building and Lawn which graces our riverside. As most residents will know, the Temple is open free to the public from March until October, and during the summer months a range of cultural events are held in the Temple and gardens.
At one stage the Council proposed to cease locking park gates at night, including the gates to the Temple gardens. The Trust protested strongly, in support of the Temple Trust, that this would be dangerously inappropriate given the Templeís sad history of criminal damage and vandalism. Many other local organisations also resisted the proposal - the Council had second thoughts and the gates are closed after dark still.
Members will be interested to learn that the Temple Trust is pursuing a scheme to develop the Loggia in the garden as a year round cultural and educational resource. In these tougher times, financial backing is still sought.

Garrick's Villa

After a disastrous fire in 2015, the villa has now been repaired and restored to a very high standard with English Heritage. Its fine Georgian facade again graces the river view and complements the classical Garrick's Lawn and Temple.

Molesey Towpath

The Thames Path on the Molesey side is extremely popular with walkers and cyclists, affording beautiful vistas along its whole length from Hampton Court Bridge to Weybridge. The Trust's remit covers the riverside as far as the head of Platt's Eyot.
Some lengths of the path alongside the Cricket Club have been resurfaced, but flooding has somewhat undermined this firmer footing.
The Trust is currently concerned about the increase of light pollution affecting the rural Surrey bank and in contact with land owners and operators to get it reduced, so that there is no spill into the dark corridor of the Thames or the nature conservation areas.

Platt's Eyot

There have been proposals for the island for significant development, which met with considerable resistance, particularly on the Molesey side, due to the excessive density of residential development sought and associated destruction of vegetation. The application was eventually withdrawn because of difficulties over an access bridge.
The understanding is the island is now owned by Shanley Investments. As well as being a nature conservation area on its upstream end, Platt's has several very interesting listed boat sheds and it is likely to be the intention of the local planning authority (Richmond upon Thames Council) to require their reconstruction. Some are in a very poor state and dilapidated to the point of being a dangerous structure. Nevertheless, boat building and repair goes on, and the Trust keeps a watching brief on Platt's Eyot.

 

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