Pathway resurfacing, closure of bridge, café, access via gates and why the workmen aren't always working
Following concerns raised by ChiswickW4.com, English Heritage, the London Borough of Hounslow and the Chiswick House and Gardens Trust have issued the following response:
Why is it taking so long for the path by the lake to be resurfaced?
The River path is being completely renewed rather than resurfaced. It will take a new route to create a more natural and less urban feel. New and restored benches are due to be installed during August and new railings will be put in towards the latter part of August. We anticipate the footpath can be re-opened by October. The top surface of the path will be applied at a later date.
Why is it being resurfaced in tarmac when we are ‘restoring’ the park?
Paths within the park are being repaired and restored with a variety of surfaces, informed by both historical and modern day access considerations. The River path forms part of an access loop within the park – where the surface will be more user friendly for disabled visitors and visitors with push-chairs.
The previous River path was of tarmac construction. The new path is different in that it has a hardcore foundation, a two layer macadam base course and a chipped surface dressing. The finish will be similar to path that runs between Old Burlington Lane Gate and the Cascade Bridge, the surface of which is due to be re-dressed.
Unfortunately the macadam base course needs to be left for approximately 12 weeks before the chipped surface dressing is applied. The surface dressing activity (which takes approximately 2-3 days) needs to take place in dry weather and may therefore be deferred until spring 2009 to be undertaken with other similar work.
Why has it been closed and how long will it be closed for?
The Classic Bridge has been closed in preparation for conservation works which start from 11 August 2008. The works will include the structural repair and cleaning of the stonework; resurfacing of the path over the bridge, with the provision of wider aprons and improved gradients on either side. The works to the Classic Bridge are expected to take approximately 12 weeks.
Why are the gates sometimes locked and sometimes open opposite Chiswick Community School?
Works to the Terrace began in July 2008 and there are occasions when the Old Burlington Gateway needs to be closed to progress these works. The Terrace works involve the restoration and improvement to the grass ramped access to either end of the Terrace (including the partial introduction of steps and discreet railings), and the restoration of the grass path to the top of the Terrace. Chiswick Gardens is fortunate to have another six alternative entrances and although the entrance via the Hockey Field has been closed while the Hockey Field is used as a contractors compound a new entrance has been opened up for public use from the public car park.
The Contractor is making every effort to minimise the amount of time that the Old Burlington Gateway needs to be closed during the day. If the gate is closed during the day it will always re-open at 4.30pm after works finish each day, if not earlier.
What is the strange logic of closing the cafe in the middle of the summer holidays which must ordinarily be the busiest time for the cafe?
The closure of the existing café was left as late as possible into this summer, but it was necessary to close it in order to start work on the foundations of the new café in good weather.
A temporary café facility is being provided through the London Borough of Hounslow on the other side of the park, adjacent to the cricket pavilion by the Staveley Road entrance, and this should be open shortly. The park toilets by the Staveley Road entrance have also been made clean and functional to support this temporary café facility.
How are the works being managed and paid for?
The works that have been agreed and presented to the Heritage Lottery Fund under our detailed Stage 2 application [copy available for reference in the Chiswick Library] have been competitively tendered through three main contracts. These contracts appreciate the very different skills required to deliver this complex project. They include a Landscape Contract [covering the landscape and conservation works within the park]; Conservatory Contract [covering only the Conservatory and Back Sheds] and the Café Contract [covering the construction of the new café and surrounding landscape works and marquee area].
All the Contracts are fully specified and measured lump sum contracts. The Contracts are not on a time charge basis. Contract expenditure is being carefully managed by professional Project Managers and Quantity Surveyors and closely overseen by both English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
How long will the Works take to complete?
The Landscape Contract started in April 2008, the Conservatory Contract in June 2008 and the Cafe Contract in August 2008. We anticipate all works will be completed by Spring 2010.
Why are works being undertaken in a seemingly haphazard way and why are there no visible workmen doing anything during working hours? Why are you not working on one thing at a time?
Works have in fact been carefully sequenced and programmed in a great deal of detail. We have been very particular in constraining where the Landscape Contractor works between May and October, in both 2008 and 2009, informed by consultation and the heightened usage during this period.
The focus of the contractor’s work to date has been behind the Conservatory, where the Maintenance Works Depot is under construction and drainage, water, gas, electricity and telecommunication supplies are being installed and upgraded. Consequently the Landscape Contractor’s workforce have been less prominent in the rest of the park where works have been limited to the west of the River where the River path is under construction. The restoration of the Terrace is underway and work on the Classic Bridge is due to commence in August. Works to the Boundary Walls, the conservatory and the new café have also now started.
Chiswick House and Gardens Trust
August 8, 2008