Petersham Nurseries Triumphs at Last
The future of the award winning Petersham Nurseries was saved on Thursday 23rd July when Richmond Council’s Planning Committee voted unanimously in approval of its application to continue to operate as a garden centre with restaurant.
Thursday evening’s decision follows a four year battle in which more than 13,635 locals and supporters from further a field joined Petersham Nurseries in its campaign for Permanent Mixed Use as Garden Centre with Restaurant.
The lengthy and costly process began in 1995 when a local newspaper published a letter protesting the existence of the garden centre’s catering operation. What began as a complaint against the existence of Petersham Nurseries Café evolved into a major local traffic issue when it was alleged that Petersham Nurseries significantly contributed to traffic and congestion within the borough.
The nursery responded with the development of an enhanced Green Travel Plan which has won praise from independent travel experts and helped to change the way people travel to the nurseries and within the area. Commenting on the Green Travel Plan, Richmond Council officers’ concluded that, “the reduction in car trips and increase in sustainable modes is normally achieved through a 5 year implementation of actions… a noticeable achievement to be made within one year”.
Travel expert, Diana Bunyan of TBM Consultants added, “I consider the Petersham Nurseries travel plan a best practice example in the field and will be promoting it as such in my work. I would also like to add that we were incredibly pleased to have partnered such a forward thinking business in its development.” According to the nurseries’ General Manager and travel plan originator, Wendy Fogarty, the success of the travel plan was largely down to the will of its customers, “During the last ten years, many of us have changed what we eat and more recently how we garden – changing the way we travel is our next greatest challenge. We invited our customers to enjoy their journey to us on foot, bicycle, local ferry and public transport and have been overwhelmed by their willingness and goodwill. It just goes to show that positive change is possible when people work towards a common goal, not at odds with one another. We would also like to thank Richmond Council’s officers for their hard work in assessing our case”.
Speaking in response to Thursday's decision, the owners of Petersham Nurseries, Francesco and Gael Boglione said, “We are obviously very pleased with the outcome of tonight’s meeting and are enormously grateful to the thousands of locals who have supported our application. When we restored Petersham Nurseries in 2003, we had a simple vision to create a beautiful garden centre in London – a natural space in which people could buy the best quality plants, enjoy a cup of tea, delicious food and a stroll along the Thames. This evening’s decision finally acknowledges the benefits that Petersham Nurseries brings to the borough”.
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1. Petersham Nurseries’ Supporters
Support for Petersham Nurseries has come from a diverse and wide-ranging group of stakeholders – from local families and community interest groups to leading environmentalists, cultural custodians and public figures; from the Horticulture Trades Association to garden centres in the USA and Australia.
Petersham Nurseries opened in 1965 and was bought by the current owners, Francesco and Gael Boglione in 2003 who restored the nurseries with the same sensitivity as they did their home, the neighbouring Petersham House and Gardens. The nurseries reopened in the summer of 2004, fast gaining attention for its commitment to natural beauty, excellence and the quality of its cafe. In October 2004, the Council confirmed the ancillary status of the cafe. In November 2007, Petersham Nurseries was granted Temporary Twelve Month Consent to continue its operation as a garden centre and restaurant conditional upon the further development of its travel plan and reductions in car travel. Today’s application makes permanent the original application for Mixed Use planning consent.
3. Environmental Policy
Petersham Nurseries’ sensitivity to its location and commitment to sustainability is applied throughout every element of its operation – from the sourcing and selection of plants, gardening sundries, reclaimed and antique furniture, produce for the Tea House and Cafe, to its onsite composting system and its waste and recycling programme. As a garden centre, it promotes the creation of healthy, beautiful and productive urban gardens, through the use of peat-free composts, non toxic fertilisers and soil conditioners, its selection of insect- and wildlife- friendly plants and the development of its Home Grown range of annuals, vegetable plants and cut flowers.
4. Green Travel Plan
The Nurseries Green Travel Plan was the first to be developed by a small business and retailer within the borough. It has encouraged its customers to switch from cars to walking, cycling, local ferry and public transport (with car sharing when necessary) and set a benchmark for the development of smarter travel networks within the area. Travel experts TBM Consultants (Contact e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) advised and worked with Petersham Nurseries to further develop, monitor and assess its travel plan. Town planning specialists, Direct Planning Ltd, advised and worked with the nurseries throughout this process.
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