The RTVC has not been able to reopen in 2012, as yet, because of the on-going action by officers in Richmond Council. Despite a Government Inspector instructing the Council that the RTVC is "a use intended for the benefit of the public", yet a few planning officers have done everything possible to damage the normal operation for visitors and restrict the public enjoyment and amenity.
The reason for not reopening is not financial, but it is because the planners will not give a clear indication what was granted as the planning permission in 2006 and have threaten further action if this is not followed. By how can you follow what the Council wants, if the officers will not give you the details of what to do??
You make your own mind up how reasonable that is and why this should be taking place. The Council officers say that "the RTVC is an asset to the Borough", so why would they allow this situation to continue unresolved?
Planners see what they are doing as perfectly right and proper and they are following the rules, but this is causing huge disadvantage to the public and the RTVC. They say that there should not be toilets, but this is a public health requirement. They say that the public are eating and drinking at the RTVC when they shouldn't be. But the RTVC has planning permission to serve food and drink albeit as an ancillary function and we have been approached by dozens of people asking "why is it so wrong to enjoy having some food as part of their visit to the Thames, its what the public wants". The RTVC has said that we have planning guidelines to follow, but the officers have changed these from the permission granted in 2006 and that a single officer had convinced a Inspector that the use has become mixed (of equal scale) and this has caused the resulting damage to your community use.
The planners have also said that food and drink served within premises in Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) is highly irregular, but the Council itself owns 14 cafes in MOL and 4 alone in gardens along side the Thames in Richmond. How unusual is that? The RTVC has done no more than what it was granted consent for in 2006, but as the officers have changed this planning permission the RTVC has had to change what the food provider Greedies was doing. This reach the point that officers stated that everything Greedies was doing was wrong, so that the RTVC had to close them down.
After probably the worst rainfall and flooding for 100 years, the RTVC is going to reopen and do its best to adhere to the scant and ambiguous information that the planning officers have given to redesign the operation of the RTVC, but it is difficult to see how this will meet their requirements given the lack of information.
We will post more news on this as it arises, but feel free to post a comment, what do you want from a visit to the RTVC and your enjoyment of being on the Thames?
Well, every year usually starting at the beginning of November Richmond Half-lock is raised. I hear you say what does that mean? The lock retains water from Richmond Lock to Teddington at the Half tide level (hense Half-lock). So during the majority of the year the level is actually artificially kept at a higher level than that beyond Richmond Lock.
So it may be a bit of a surprise for most, but the river users and mooring owners are very experienced regarding this change to the normal pattern of the tides and have to make provision so that their craft and structure "ground" correctly, without the fear of damage.
With the coming of the full tidal range there is also a much faster current, up to 7knots and the dislodging of debris, so the Thames can be a much more dangerous place during this time.
So lend some sympathy for the humble mooring owner and wish them well through the draw-off that all remains well during this wild time.
The RTVC has planning consent for the pontoon at the size it is.
The Council has said that toilets are necessary.
This should have been handled efficiently by granting permitted development rights.
A planning consent has been submitted to secure public sanitation facilities at this visitor centre.
The RTVC has planning consent for "any food and drink", albeit ancillary.
The Council has taken enforcement as it believes the use is too great and that the general public should not be able to enjoy this river facility.
The Government Inspector has stated "this is a use intended for the benefit of the general public".
The Mayor of London has said "this is a genuine river related facility and a valuable education resources"
Richmond Council wants to stop the public using the facility, in preference to only private meetings and functions.
The RTVC sees the Council's approach as removing the public enjoyment of the Thames and discriminating against the public.
It has appealed against the Council's decision and has made a planning application to secure the use by the public.
The RTVC believes that the comment made by "twickenham says" is very accurate and the Council should not try and ban the public from the enjoyment of the Thames and this wonderful public open space.
2:11pm Thursday 20th October 2011
The founder of Richmond’s boat-based River Thames Visitor Centre (RTVC) has been told he could face prosecution unless he stops operating a cafe and restaurant on the premises.
Barry Edwards has also been ordered to remove a floating pontoon of visitor toilets within the next 56 days.
But the RTVC boat owner said, although he will comply with enforcement notices issued by Richmond Council on Thursday, October 13, he has already filed a complaint with the Local Government Planning Ombudsman to have the situation reassessed.
Mr Edwards said: “I’m appealing against the view that there is a second pontoon and I’m appealing for the inspector to make a decision on the required toilets.
“I’m [also] closing down the ancillary function [restaurant]. I am closing at the end of the month but will reapply for planning consent.”
The decision to force Mr Edwards, of Kilmorey Gardens, Twickenham, to stop the visitor centre from operating a mixed use cafe and restaurant, as well as exhibition space, followed a three day planning inquiry into the boat’s use which was carried out in March and April this year.
Council planning officer Sukie Tamplin said enforcement notices had been made “in the light of continuing complaints” and referred to planning inquiry rulings stating sale of food and drink exceeded permitted use and the floating toilet pontoon was positioned beyond the area permitted for any such structure.
A resident who lives in Northumberland Place, which backs onto where the RTVC is located, said he was affected by what he believed to be a continuous breach of planning permission.
He said: “The continued abuse of planning consent causes and contributes to the degradation of the ambience of this part of the riverside.
“In particular the toilet structure is totally out of keeping with the area and the noise and the open air catering activity causes the focus for significant increase in noise nuisance and litter on that part of the riverside.”
Mr Edwards said there was no second floating pontoon, and stated he had lodged a complaint over what he believes to be planning maladministration.
He said: “The officers’ report is un-credible, the use of the RTVC has not changed and this is an attempt to change the planning consent granted in 2006.”
10:44pm Thu 20 Oct 11
Its a real shame that the council wants to stop resiidents and visitors from visiting the river centre and enjoying a coffee, snack or ice cream while they're there. Maybe the council are trying to protect tide tables profits twickeman
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