Residents may well be wondering what is happening on the ‘Jolly Boatman’ site?
It has now been 6 years since the Conservative Administration at Elmbridge Borough Council pushed through a planning application for a massive over-development of the Jolly Boatman and Hampton Court Station site, ignoring the serious concerns and objections raised by MRA Councillors and large numbers of the general public. In the period after this application was approved, MRA Councillors worked closely with the Hampton Court Rescue Campaign (HCRC) to ensure that the developer complied with the numerous planning conditions which the approval stipulated had to be complied with before any development could commence.
During the planning process MRA Councillors argued strongly that the financial viability of the development was extremely doubtful. The banking collapse in 2008 resulted in Gladedale, the developer (now Avant) being acquired by Lloyds Bank, its largest creditor. In January of this year, Lloyds announced that they were considering selling Avant, but since that time we have heard nothing further.
In June 2013, in order to comply with planning regulations, and to show that work on the development had started, minor works were carried out. Subsequently no further work has been done, and the site has remained boarded-off. Fly-tipping has taken place, and the whole area has once again become something of an eyesore. We have asked the Council if it can require the developer to remove the hoardings and reinstate the grass and picket fence which were put in place at the time of the 2012 Olympics, but the developer has refused to do so, and the Council says it has no powers to make them.
MRA councillors and the HCRC have campaigned recently for a proper safety audit of the proposed access and exit routes for lorries from Cigarette Island Lane. As so many people cross the site from the station to Hampton Court Palace, it is essential that safety issues are addressed and remedial action taken before excavation commences. Unfortunately, at the present time this has not been possible, but we are still trying.
What has frustrated us and many local residents is that if Gladedale, and the Conservative Adminsitration at Elmbridge, taken proper notice of the serious concerns being raised at the time, we believe a better outcome could have been achieved. Ultimately we hope that the owners will come forward with more appropriate proposals which reflect the sensitive setting of the Jolly Boatman site, but in the meantime we will, of course, keep residents informed of any further developments.
Following the demise of the developers Gladedale, there is now a new owner of the site which they have purchased with the existing planning permission attached.
The original planning permission, pushed through by the conservatives on Elmbridge Council, included a hotel and a care home. For several years, Molesey Residents Association Councillors in conjunction with the Hampton Court Rescue Campaign have spent enormous amounts of time and energy in ensuring that Gladedale complied with all the pre-conditions necessary prior to any construction commencing. Without this legitimate challenge via the planning process a very unsuitable and unsympathetic development could be there now.
The MRA has continually argued for a sympathetic development on the Jolly Boatman/Station site, one in line with the character of Molesey and one that is to stand opposite a major national treasure.
We understand that the new owners are considering all the options available to them – which range from commencing construction to the original plans through to putting in another planning application.
Residents can be assured that the MRA will continue to advocate for a sympathetic and appropriately scaled development on the site. In particular the provision of a percentage of affordable housing within the development.
We understand that Alexpo, the new owners of the Jolly Boatman site, are considering possible options for the site as an alternative to the scheme for which planning permission was granted in 2008. It appears that they are discussing this with Planning Officers at Elmbridge Council in advance of the preparation of any formal application. We will let you know as soon as we receive any more information about this.
Recent Article in The Surrey Comet: