Development of Chiswick Heritage Plant Centre

Information Requested by Sustainable Development Committee

CIP, Landscape Services

February 2003

Draft submission for comment.

Interested parties are invited to comment on these draft proposals for Chiswick Heritage Plant Centre before this document is submitted to the Sustainable Development Committee.  It is currently intended that the planning application be considered by the Committee at their meeting of 28 April 2003.  Comments should be made in writing to Andrew Life, CIP Landscape Services, Feltham Airparcs Leisure Centre, Uxbridge Road, Hanworth TW13 5EG (email: to be received by 7 March 2003.  CIP will consider any comments in preparing its final submission.

1. Executive summary


CIP has applied for permission to change the use of part of the walled kitchen garden at Chiswick House Grounds (CHG) for the operation of a plant centre selling unusual plants, plants with local historical connections and a limited range of ancillary products.  This report provides additional information on the proposals to enable the Sustainable Development Committee (SDC) of the London Borough of Hounslow (LBH) to reach a planning decision, and its content has been made widely available to enable interested parties to comment on the proposals.

Revised proposals

The general restoration of CHG is the subject of a bid for Heritage Lottery Funding (HLF), and prospects for the restoration have recently been significantly enhanced following news from English Heritage that a private benefactor intends to support the project with a substantial donation.  The plans for the plant centre have been reviewed in the context of the wider restoration proposals, and a consensus has been reached between CIP, the Friends of Chiswick House, English Heritage and LBH that a plant centre with nursery growing plants for sale would be compatible with most other functions currently being considered for the area.  The nursery has been specified within the constraints imposed by such functions and by the available infrastructure – particularly parking and stock deliveries.  Key features of the proposal are as follows (refer also to Figure 1).

·  The nursery will be located in part of the southern walled garden, expanding to a maximum area of 1773m2.  It will also utilise existing glasshouses and some parts of the depot area.

·  Public access will be through the existing gate in the west wall of the southern walled garden.  New paths are proposed through the Hockey Field -  from the A4 car park, close to the garden wall, and from the nursery gate to the existing path from the car park.  Occasional access on special occasions may be permitted through the Conservatory and 17th century gates.

·  15 additional car parking spaces will be provided for customer use, as it is expected that the car park will occasionally otherwise be filled by general visitors to CHG and the adjacent tennis courts.

·  Deliveries will be made via Dukes Avenue.  Although occasional larger vehicles will be able to unload in the Avenue, most deliveries will involve smaller vans that will unload in the depot area. 

·  The nursery will be open during the summer 7 days a week and for 9 hours per day.  The opening period will be shorter in winter.

Planning issues

Additional traffic entering the car park

The car park off of the A4 is currently fully utilised at peak times during summer weekends, bank holidays and when special events are held in the Hockey Field, and additional parking has been provided for these occasions.  It is predicted that, once established, the plant centre will generate an additional 75 daily visitors to the car park at weekends between June and August and 54 on weekdays at this time.  Smaller increases in traffic are expected at other times. 

Additional traffic on Dukes Avenue

Deliveries to the nursery and deliveries by the nursery to local customers are not expected to generate more than three deliveries per day.  Most will involve small vans that will load/unload in the depot area.  Incoming deliveries will only be made on weekdays and vehicle speeds will be controlled.

Ecological impact

The nursery will, from its second year, partially occupy an area dominated by weak, densely spaced trees in the southern walled garden that have grown on from the old nursery beds dating to the 1980s.  A preliminary ecological assessment has not identified important wildlife habitats; however, CIP will undertake a full ecological assessment in the spring.  The possibility of habitat conservation to increase the ecological value of part of the northern walled garden area is an option under consideration as part of the more general restoration of CHG.

Landscape impact

The nursery itself will not be visible to properties outside CHG.  Residents of houses in Paxton Road will see occasional delivery vehicles on Dukes Avenue from their upstairs windows, and passers-by on the A4 will see signage in the car park.  Visitors of the grounds will glimpse the nursery from the Conservatory and through the west gate of the walled garden.  They will also see small signs within the grounds and additional spaces in the car park.

2. Background

CIP has proposed to establish a small plant centre and nursery in part of the walled kitchen garden at Chiswick House Grounds (CHG), London W4.  CIP intends to develop the plant centre in keeping with the historic location in terms of the centre’s character, scale and impact on the fabric of the walled garden.  An application for change of use of the site was submitted to Development Control, London Borough of Hounslow (LBH) in March 2002. 

The application raised local fears that the business would spoil the special character of CHG and increase traffic and disturbance in the local area.  CIP sought to reduce these concerns through liaison with the Friends of Chiswick House (FCH) and by providing additional information about the proposals to interested parties by means of briefing documents and posters in CHG and local libraries.  Nevertheless, the concerns were also raised when the Chiswick Area Planning Committee was consulted on the case on 16 October 2002.  This Committee was generally supportive of the proposals but wished that residents’ concerns be carried forward to the Sustainable Development Committee (SDC) at its meeting on 31 October 2002.  At this meeting the SDC voted, after discussion, to defer a decision on the application until CIP provided additional information relating to:

·    the likely impact and operational arrangements of the nursery

·    parking and traffic impact on the A4

·    environmental impact of the plant centre on the grounds.

The committee also recommended that local residents, as represented by FCH, be consulted.

This report seeks to provide the Sustainable Development Committee with additional information on the proposal to enable Members to reach a planning decision.

Section 3 describes the consultation that CIP has undertaken to understand these concerns and presents a more closely defined proposal arising from this process.  Section 4 addresses the specific concerns of the SDC in the light of the proposal.

Page 2 - includes revised proposals and plans

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