Conservation Area Appraisal
Conservation area no.17
- Statement of Significance
- Location and Setting
- Historical Development
- Architectural Quality and Built Form
- Architectural Details
- Open Space, Parks, Gardens and Trees
- Management Plan
Purpose of this document
The principal aims of conservation area appraisals are to:
- Describe the historic and architectural character and appearance of the area which will assist applicants in making successful planning applications and decision makers in assessing planning applications;
- Raise public interest and awareness of the special character of their area;
- Identify the positive features which should be conserved, as well as negative features which indicate scope for future enhancements.
This document has been produced using the guidance set out by Historic England in the 2019 publication titled Understanding Place: Conservation Area Designation, Appraisal and Management, Historic England Advice Note 1 (Second Edition).
This document will be a material consideration when assessing planning applications.
What is a conservation area?
The statutory definition of a conservation area is an ‘area of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance’. The power to designate conservation areas is given to local authorities through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservations Areas) Act, 1990 (Sections 69 to 78). Once designated, proposals within a conservation area become subject to local conservation policies set out in the Council’s Local Plan and national policies outlined in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the London Plan. Our overarching duty, which is set out in the Act, is to preserve and/or enhance the historic or architectural character or appearance of the conservation area.
Buildings of townscape merit
Buildings of Townscape Merit (BTMs) are buildings, groups of buildings or structures of historic or architectural interest, which are locally listed due to their considerable local importance. The policy, as outlined in the Council’s Local Plan, sets out a presumption against the demolition of BTMs unless structural evidence has been submitted by the applicant, and independently verified at the cost of the applicant. Locally specific guidance on design and character is set out in the Council’s Buildings of Townscape Merit Supplementary Planning Document (2015) (pdf, 895 KB), which applicants are expected to follow for any alterations and extensions to existing BTMs, or for any replacement structures.
What is an article 4 direction?
An Article 4 Direction is made by the local planning authority. It restricts the scope of permitted development rights either in relation to a particular area or site, or a particular type of development anywhere in the authority's area. The Council has powers under Article 4 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015 to remove permitted development rights.
Article 4 Directions are used to remove national permitted development rights only in certain limited situations where it is necessary to protect local amenity or the wellbeing of an area. An Article 4 Direction does not prevent the development to which it applies, but instead requires that planning permission is first obtained from the Council for that development. View further information about Article 4 Directions to check if any permitted developments rights in relation to a particular area/site or type of development apply in your area.
What is a conservation area appraisal?
A conservation area appraisal aims to describe the special historic and architectural character of an area. A conservation area’s character is defined by a combination of elements such as architecture, uses, public realm, materials and detailing as well as the relationship between buildings and their settings. Many other elements contribute to character and appearance such as the placement of buildings within their plots; views and vistas; the relationship between the street and the buildings and the presence of trees and green space. The conservation area appraisal is an evidence base rather than a planning policy document. This means that it is the main document for recording what is of principal importance in terms of character and appearance for each conservation area. However, the relevant policies are contained within the borough’s Local Plan. Refer to the Council’s website for the latest Local Plan.
Summary of special architectural and historic interest of conservation area.
- Richmond is a historically significant settlement, which has origins dating from the 14th century.
- The use of a variety of materials, including red and stock facing brick, stucco, both decorative and plain, and stone facing are evenly distributed throughout the area.
- The townscape is noteworthy for its variety, with a consistently high quality and many exuberant individual buildings. There are also residential areas of mainly terraced development and more uniform rows of houses of a similar design.
- Building heights vary but are generally three storeys, rising at times to five. Roof treatments also vary but parapeted roof forms predominate.
- The linear main commercial thoroughfare of George Street is an important feature in central Richmond and reflects how it has grown and developed.
- On an important coaching route to London, the area has repeatedly been redeveloped, although the original street pattern survives. Many of the 18th century buildings of George Street, the Quadrant and Sheen Road were replaced piecemeal by mid to late 19th and early 20th century commercial architecture, providing shops for the needs of the expanded local community after the arrival of the railway. However, some earlier fabric on the high street survives, embedded to the rear behind more modern frontages.
- There is a good mixture of commercial units along George Street. The variety of styles and ages of shopfronts is representative of the gradual growth over time.
- The main thoroughfare is heavily trafficked both by pedestrians and vehicles.
General character and plan form, e.g. linear, compact, dense or dispersed; important views, landmarks, open spaces, uniformity.
Situated to the south west of London, Richmond lies between two significant areas of green space: The Old Deer Park/ Kew Gardens to the north and Richmond Park and Ham lands to the south. It is north east of Twickenham, north of Ham, south east of Isleworth, south west of Chiswick and west of Putney.
The Conservation Area lies in the centre of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, and although it had its own distinct character, shares a relationship with both the Richmond Green Conservation Area, and the Richmond Riverside Conservation Area, and this context should be considered when studying any of the three.
The Central Richmond Conservation Area is predominantly aligned along the main thoroughfare routes which includes Kew Road, The Quadrant, George Street, and Hill Street.
The South Western Railway and Underground lines run through its centre to Richmond Station, with connections to both central London and the west.
The western boundary is strictly defined by the presence of Richmond Green. To the north, the area is mostly residential in character, with the inclusion of Parkshot, St. John’s Road and Church Road, whereas the centre and southern ends are much more commercial in nature. The eastern side extends upwards to meet Richmond Hill Conservation Area and includes Paradise Road, Red Lion Street, Sheen Road and Eton Street, which have a mix of commercial and residential properties.
Stages/phases of historical development and historic associations (archaeology etc.), which may be influencing how the area is experienced.
The growth of Richmond has been physically constrained by the large open spaces of Richmond Park and Petersham Common to the south and south-east, the River Thames to the west and the Old Deer Park to the north, later reinforced by the railway and A316 trunk road. Thus, throughout its development the town has only really been able to expand east and north-east.
The town owes its existence largely to royal patronage when, in the second half of the 14th century, Edward III converted the manor house of Shene into a royal palace. This was demolished by Richard II after the death of his Queen, and a new palace was built by Henry V &VI. After a fire in 1497 the palace was rebuilt by Henry VII and from 1501 the village of Shene came to be known as Richmond as Henry VII was the earl of Richmond in Yorkshire. The accession of the Stuarts saw the creation of the New Park (now the Old Deer Park) by James I from 1603 and Richmond Park by Charles I from 1634. The civil war and execution of Charles I in 1649 led to the sale and quick demolition of most of the palace, with Trumpeter’s House (1702-4), Old Court House, Wentworth House and Maids of Honour Row (1724-5) gradually being built on the site of the palace during the 18th century. However, The Gate House and associated walls and the Wardrobe survive.
The village gradually developed into a town due to the presence of the palace, and decline followed its demolition. Prosperity returned towards the end of the 17th century as Londoners fled the plague and the discovery of a spring led to Richmond becoming a popular spa town over the following century. Richmond Bridge, built in 1774-7, and the arrival of the railway in 1846 were key developments leading to the quadrupling of the population from 1810 to 1890, the impetus for growth leading to the loss of many of the original large houses and grounds for redevelopment. The popularity of the motor car saw a number of road improvements in the early 20th century, most notably the construction of the Great Chertsey Road and Twickenham Bridge (opened in 1933). The redevelopment of large houses continued, and notable buildings of the time include the Odeon cinema of 1930 and the railway station of 1937.
Dominant architectural styles, the prevalent types and periods of buildings, their status and essential characteristics, and their relationship to the topography, street pattern and/ or the skyline. Also important is their authenticity, distinctiveness and uniqueness of materials, design, form, texture, colour etc.)
The Central Richmond Conservation Area covers the site of the former village centre associated with the royal manor and palace. Although this area had been substantially redeveloped in the 19th and 20th centuries, much of the historic street pattern has survived, including the numerous lanes and alleys leading off the main shopping streets, which are a particularly valuable characteristic of Richmond.
Within the Conservation Area there are three distinct character areas.
- The main shopping core consisting of Hill Street, George Street, The Quadrant and Kew Road and the alleys and side streets.
- Parkshot, giving access to Richmond Green.
- The edge of centre streets supporting a wider, less concentrated mix of uses in the Sheen Road, Paradise Road and Red Lion Street area.
Character Area 1 - Shopping Core
The bridge and its setting
The junction of Hill Street, Bridge Street and Hill Rise marks a strong gateway into the town centre, contrasting with the open aspect of the river and the well-treed approaches from Richmond Hill and Petersham Road. The junction is defined by the prominent high-quality buildings of Bridge House and the Odeon cinema. From a pedestrian perspective, this is not a pedestrian friendly environment due to the high volume of traffic that converges at the roundabout in front of the cinema; however, the recent installation of a zebra crossing near Richmond Bridge between the Pitcher and Piano pub and Bills Restaurant now provides a safe crossing point.
Ormond Road and Castle Yard lead off Hill Street. Ormond Road is located in the adjoining Richmond Hill Conservation Area. It is a narrow street with pleasant views to the residential area beyond. Initially it is a well-defined space framed by an impressive, listed terrace on one side and the varied side elevation of the Odeon cinema on the other. Beyond the cinema the enclosure is weakened with views into Castle Yard. This is a rather nondescript space with the modern Castle Yard House dominating the street, and the cinema annex providing an uninviting facade, though there is an important view through to the Old Town Hall.
George Street has a strong sense of enclosure, with the view closed at either end by distinctive buildings. At the northern end the view is terminated by the ornate Dutch gable of 39 and emerging from behind is the fish-scaled zinc cupola of the listed Dome Buildings. These buildings form an interesting and rich visual experience. Looking southwards, there continues to be a mixed array of architectural styles, with a number of more modern buildings including 67, 80 and 83-84 George Street.
The famous former House of Fraser building at 80 George Street is one of the landmark properties in Richmond town centre. It is a dominant viewpoint and landmark for anyone approaching the town centre from the direction of Richmond Bridge.
The town centre has no significant formal open spaces. However, at either end of George Street there are distinctly identifiable urban spaces punctuating the tight knit urban form. The junction of five streets at the southern end is a space in which the human scale is overpowered by the busy traffic and its currently unavoidable plethora of signs and traffic lights which also disrupt views of the buildings.
At the northern end is the pedestrian area of Lower George Street and the wider environs of The Square and the Dome Building, which together form part of an interesting sequence and tapestry of rich and varied urban spaces enclosed and defined by a number of buildings of considerable townscape interest.
The modern corner building at Lower George Street/ Eton Street is a good example of incorporating a new building in the existing townscape.
Golden Court and Brewers Lane are both historic narrow pedestrian lanes lined with small shops and are ancient routes linking the town and Green. They are quiet, intimate spaces offering a respite from the busy George Street. Traditional hanging signs and a number of historic shopfronts characterise the lanes adding charm and visual interest. Some of the upper floors remain residential, and Brewers Lane has some of the oldest surviving small-scale development in Richmond, much of which is listed. Though the majority of Brewers Lane is located within Richmond Green Conservation Area, it impacts on the character of Central Richmond, showcasing the interconnected characters of these neighbouring conservation areas.
On the opposite side of George Street are Victoria Place, Church Court and Church Walk. The entrance to Victoria Place is narrow and lined with good quality side elevations of shops which front George Street. The space opens out into a wide paved area lined by two very distinctive and pleasant terraces of flats with small front gardens and external staircases. The rise in level and a number of large trees give the area a distinctive character and, together with the parade of shops on Red Lion Street, give the space some sense of enclosure. The narrow Church Court is lined on one side by attractive shops and a pub with alfresco dining, and this opens out into Church Walk a quiet pocket space, which contributes to the human scale and activity of the space. The path rises gently to the prominent memorial, consisting of a tall cross with the figure of Saint George, terminating the view and giving glimpses of the green space beyond where the path opens out dramatically to reveal the picturesque knapped-flint parish church of St. Mary Magdalene. Hard landscaping in the form of York stone pavers, and the decorative old lamp standards, make an appealing contribution to the character of the space and have positive townscape value. This is a quiet and secluded oasis of green space unique in the town centre.
The island of buildings at Lower George Street and the Dome Building deflects the view into The Quadrant. The Dome Building (grade II listed) is an important landmark that holds and defines the space forming the junction of The Square, George Street and The Quadrant. It is a busy junction with a heavy amount of pedestrian activity. The traffic lights and other street furniture contribute to visual clutter that detracts from the quality of the space and views of the surrounding important buildings. In The Quadrant, the street curves away to the left; it gradually widens and then rises to pass as a bridge over the hidden railway line, opening out into the wider space in front of the railway station. Building forms become more mixed in terms of age and size as well as height, predominantly four storeys, with office buildings of varying scale and quality in the station area. These elements give the road a more spacious character contrasting with the tightness of urban form to George Street. There is a distinctive mixture of brick, stone and render which contributes positively to the character. Building heights are generally within four storeys.
There are two spaces which are centres of activity in the street: Richmond Station forecourt, and The Square. The area around the Dome Building is a fine townscape element with the adjacent island buildings and old fire station opposite. The heavy traffic mars the pedestrian quality of the space, and an escape can be found in the narrow pedestrian passage behind the Dome Building, where small retail units give the space an intimate and human feel. The space in front of the station is marked by the impressive and simple Art Deco façade of the station building. Previously, the space was dominated by taxis and buses, but it now forms a pedestrian-friendly public space that welcomes people as they emerge from the station to enter the town centre. Although there is an overall distinctive mixture of brick, stone and render finishes, which contributes positively to the character of this area, the setting of the station building is somewhat compromised by modern office blocks and car parks on all sides.
Richmond Station (which is a site allocation in the Council’s Local Plan) provides a major redevelopment opportunity in the area, which could provide substantial interchange improvements as well as a range of appropriate town centre uses. The site has been identified as being suitable to accommodate a taller landmark building, which should be contextual to its setting and the identified constraints of the site.
Beyond the station to the north, The Quadrant becomes Kew Road and again the character of the thoroughfare changes. As the road curves gently to the right, the building line continues in a straight line creating a small open space between the Orange Tree and former Duke of York public houses where outdoor planters and street trees help to define and enclose the space. There is a mixture of building styles of varying ages at this end of the conservation area, though the commercial nature of this area is a unifying factor. The Orange Tree Theatre was built specifically as a theatre in the round, and it is housed within a disused 1867 primary school, built in Victorian Gothic style.
Two narrow alleys link Kew Road with the parallel Parkshot. Opposite the railway station a functional and bland thoroughfare – Old Station Passage, the name recalling the siting of the original mainline railway station – runs under Oriel House and is an important pedestrian link from the railway station to Parkshot and the Old Deer Park. Sun Alley is an historic thoroughfare running between the former Duke of York and Sun Inn public houses; very narrow and containing no shops, it is nevertheless more visually interesting than Old Station Passage, as it is lined with a variety of different elevations.
The east side of Hill Street contains mainly 19th century stock brick buildings on original narrow plots, two groups at nos. 2-20 (even) and nos. 22-34 (even) giving a strong vertical emphasis to the character of the street. In contrast, the west side of the street includes buildings which are more imposing in character, with half the frontage occupied by the Richmond Riverside development. It is balanced by the listed Odeon cinema opposite, and its associated block of flats and shops, an impressive expression of 1930s architectural style which forms a bookend to the town centre and focal point leading to the town centre from Richmond Bridge.
Built as a single development, the three-storey block at nos. 22-32 (even) is a cohesive and distinctive element in the townscape. Most of the upper floor windows remain in their original form. Unfortunately, rendering, painting and modern shopfront designs combine to dilute the simple elegance of the block. No. 34 has considerable presence in the street and its distinctiveness is characterised by the gault brick elevations with red brick bands and window arches. It is complemented by a good quality shopfront with polished granite pillars.
No. 5 Hill Street, a listed Georgian building, which was later converted to a cinema but now restored, forms a focal point as part of a historic group at the junction of Red Lion Street.
Opposite Castle Yard is the Old Town Hall, 2 Whittaker Avenue, an imposing local landmark with its turret and projecting clock on the corner. Built in 1893 by W. J. Ancell it is of red brick and stone, described by Pevsner as 'mixed renaissance' in style. Also of note is the adjacent former 9-11, a fine free-standing building in classical style which has been sensitively converted from a bank to restaurant and bar.
The eaves line of George Street is varied and uneven, reflecting widely differing architectural styles. Intensive development during the 19th and 20th century saw many new buildings competing for prominence resulting in contrasting materials, unusual details and rich decoration. At ground level many good quality buildings have fared less well. Very few shopfronts original to their buildings survive. Nevertheless, many contemporary shopfronts are of good design and make a positive contribution to the townscape; however, there are still examples that could be greatly improved using more sensitive detailing and materials. A number of brick-faced buildings have either been rendered or painted, often striking a discordant tone in the frontage. The restoration of painted or rendered facades to brick should be encouraged. Also disrupting the visual coherence of buildings are shopfronts which extend across the length of more than one building without altering their appearance to suit the character and proportions of each individual building.
The Dome Building is probably one of the most distinctive and prominent buildings in the town centre which survives largely intact from its Victorian/Edwardian heyday, apart from the replacement shopfront. Free standing and semi-circular in shape, it is classical in style with a large fish scaled dome and cupola. Built in 1843 it was originally the Mechanical Institute and then the public baths. Now listed, it has been gradually extended over the years, not acquiring its dome until 1908. Important views of the building exist from George Street and Eton Street.
The old fire station is a local landmark of high quality. Built in red brick with a distinctive clock tower and spire, polychrome window arches and decorative stonework and roundels. It is also listed.
Nos. 1-18 (incl.) The Quadrant, a purpose-built parade, strongly defines the curve of the street at its southern end and is a good example of confident Victorian commercial architecture and a positive element of the townscape. The convex curve of the elevation ensures that it is never seen in its entirety. The elevations of some units have been altered over time, disrupting the cohesiveness of the façade. The quality of the shopfronts is mixed, with a number of both sensitive and insensitive examples. It is worth noting no. 2 with its unusual neo-Tudorbethan frontage.
Across the street the row of shops at nos. 44-50 (incl.) is an interesting and diverse mix of buildings of different ages and architectural styles, creating interest and variety in the streetscape. At the end of this block is a pedestrian alley leading into Waterloo Place, an important feature in the townscape, featuring a terrace of modestly scaled Grade II listed cottages.
The development at nos. 34-40 (incl.) is a modern building that competes with the Dome buildings in scale. The adjacent block at nos. 28-33 (incl.) is a collection of individual buildings of good quality and a variety of styles which are a positive element in the townscape. Of note is no. 28, originally the Railway Hotel and dating from 1888, which is prominently marked with a five-storey octagonal tower and is a local landmark. The listed St. John's Church spire is a landmark on the edge of the Conservation Area, though trees obscure the interesting façade.
This building was once a department store topped with a fine dome, now removed.
The west side of Kew Road is notable for its three fine public houses, One Kew Road, the former Duke of York and the Orange Tree. All are buildings which make a positive contribution to the character and appearance of the Conservation Area, though unfortunately the brick facades of One Kew Road and the former Duke of York have been painted over. The Orange Tree is the grandest, resplendent in its bright red façade. It is prominently striped in white stucco bands and a large gable vies for importance with an octagonal corner turret. The building enjoys a prominent corner site with good views from Church Road.
Character Area 2 – Parkshot
Parkshot was originally the lane which ran from Richmond Green alongside the edge of the gardens of the Palace. The A316 now severs this route which survives to the north as St. John's Grove and Kew Foot Road. The topography, with the row of lime trees in front of Richmond Adult Community College, gives most of the street a degree of isolation from the rest of the town. The trees give this part of the street a softer and more suburban character than the more open southern part of the street. The northern section of Parkshot is in this Conservation Area with the southern section in Richmond Green Conservation Area.
The street is a wide mix of building types and scales ranging from 20th century office blocks to earlier buildings of a more domestic scale. The office buildings, concentrated on the eastern side of the street, are quite large with simple elevations. The former Magistrates Court, built in the 1970s, is an elegant and uncompromisingly contemporary design contrasting strongly with its more traditional neighbours - a fine 18th century group of listed townhouses and the handsome façade of the Community College. The College was built at the turn of the century as the Girls' County School and is suitably imposing, built in red brick with stone dressings and sitting behind high iron railings. A row of mature limes gives the boundary even stronger definition and reinforces the presence and setting of the building at close hand.
Character Area 3 – Edge of Centre Streets
Originally, Red Lion Street was a narrow and winding alley, though Paradise Road was more suburban in character. Both streets were widened in the early 20th century though retaining some of their original winding nature. As a result, most of the buildings date from after this period. The streets have generally no strong sense of enclosure as building lines are varied with little continuous built frontage, although nos. 8-32 Red Lion Street are an exception to this. Another coherent building form can be found at the eastern end of Paradise Road. A positive feature of Red Lion Street is the group of mature London Plane trees at the top of Victoria Place which merge into the greenery of the trees in the graveyard of the parish church, its open aspect allowing important views of the church in its setting. The 18th century listed Halford House (located within Richmond Hill Conservation Area) terminates the vista along Halford Road from St Mary Magdalene’s Church, which is lined by pleasant terraces of houses. The northern section of Halford Road is located within this conservation area, with the majority being in neighbouring Richmond Hill.
Planting in Wellington Yard as well as Vineyard Passage and the Burial Ground (located within Richmond Hill Conservation Area), provide a further positive green break in the townscape.
The listed Church Terrace provides a positive element in this street of the same name. On the contrary, Wakefield Road is a rather uninspiring space; it suffers from views to the rear elevations of shops on Red Lion Street and the functional space of the bus station. This was once a cricket green with the Victorian pre-fabricated building with front gables facing it being the club house, but now a restaurant (in the Richmond Hill CA 5).
Immediately adjacent to Wellington Yard is St. James's Cottages, a narrow lane lined on one side by a simple terrace of small Victorian cottages. Their character is defined by their seclusion and uniformity and intact elevations, the stepped eaves line and chimneys being dominant features. Where original brick setts survive, these also make a positive contribution to the streetscape.
From Eton Street, the cupola of the Dome Building and the corner of the island buildings define a fine and attractive view to the town centre, in stark contrast with the view in the opposite direction towards Ambassador House. The west side of Eton Street has suffered from insensitive modern development, but the east side of the street retains many of its brick-built 19th century buildings. Stepped parapets at nos. 2-10 (even) emphasise the slope of the street, and the group includes a number of original shopfronts of good quality which are attractively detailed and add interest and variety to the street scene.
The wide aspect of Sheen Road in conjunction with the angled parking, street trees and narrow ends to the street give it a strong sense of enclosure, the character being more of a 'place' than a thoroughfare. The town end of the street is the focus for a number of the alleys, which characterise the town centre. In addition to The Passage and Waterloo Place/Prince's Street, there is an interesting and secluded network of alleys behind the listed terrace at nos. 3-21 (odd) Sheen Road. The routes permeate into the heart of the block opening out into a series of informal, secluded and peaceful spaces with generous tree cover and focusing on Union Court.
St. John's Church is most prominent from Church Road where the spire and south elevation terminate the view northwards. Here, the bend in the road creates a space which is characterised by a number of good-quality early Victorian town houses and the former church hall.
The entrance to Red Lion Street is framed by the impressive, curved corner buildings at 1 George Street and nos. 2-6 (even) Hill Street. With pale yellow brick facade and curved bays above street level, Lion House presents a positive Art Deco façade.
The red brick former Police Station and 1920s terrace of shops at nos. 8-32 (even) Red Lion Street present a positive and lively aspect to the street and with the tree cover create a more pleasant and interesting space for pedestrians. Opposite the churchyard is a short terrace of buildings of varying appearance, and together, they have a rather pleasant organic and informal character. The refurbished cottages at nos. 10-16 (even) Paradise Road maintain the modest scale of the street at this point.
The many office buildings in this area have a particularly negative impact on the character of the Conservation Area, this being especially evident at the junction of Paradise Road with Eton Street near Grade II listed Hogarth House, once home to Virginia Woolf. Vestry House, no. 21 Paradise Road, originally the Old Courthouse and part forming the entrance to Vineyard Passage and Burial Ground, is a modest brick-built building retaining an air of civic importance and stands out as a positive element. The Christian Science Church at the junction with Sheen Road is a prominent local landmark at the gateway to the town centre from the east.
Of the four residential blocks dating from when Sheen Road was widened, the two Art Deco blocks on the north side forming Lichfield Court are the most distinctive. The parades of shops, maturing trees and parking bays create a smaller human scale corridor of space away from the passing traffic. The listed terrace at nos. 1-21 (odd) is the only group on the street dating from before the road widening. It marks a return to the more pedestrian scale of building seen around the triangular public space. The wide pavement, street trees and seating in front of the terrace forms part of a series of small open spaces around this part of the town centre which includes The Passage, Prince's Street, Lower George Street, and Union Court.
Church Road, St John’s Road, Larkfield Road
The north eastern end of the conservation area – incorporating Church Road, St John’s Road and Larkfield Road – were incorporated as an extension in 2003. This section is notably residential in nature, and contrasts rather starkly with the nearby Kew Road, having a much quieter character, with most traffic due to residents.
Church Road links Kew Road and Sheen Road, with the interconnecting St John’s Road and Larkfield Road joining it at the northern end. The bridge over the railway tracks on Church Road is a designated BTM and marks the boundary of Richmond Central Conservation Area with Sheen Road Conservation Area (31).
St John the Divine Church (Grade II listed) and church hall make a strong contribution to this end of the conservation area, with the main church façade and spire featuring along the thoroughfare of Kew Road and hall located next to the residential streets of Church Road and St John’s Road. Built in 1836, and a parish in its own right since 1838, it was designed by Lewis Vulliamy in the early Gothic Revival architectural style. The later church hall, built in brick, was constructed in 1911.
Both St John’s Road and Larkfield Road are lined on both sides with residential properties. Overall, they are predominantly characterised by two-storey detached and semi-detached houses, with canted bay windows, rendered window surrounds and pitched porches. Houses on Larkfield Road are largely constructed of yellow stock brick walling with red brick banding while those on St John’s Road are of red brick. A significant portion of the original front gardens with boundary walls have been replaced in favour of hardstanding for vehicular parking. Similarly, many of the original tiled paths have been removed and replaced with less decorative and less sensitive modern alternatives.
Private and public land, front gardens, trees, hedges and street greenery, parks, civic spaces their sense and contribution to the character and experience of an area.
As mentioned, the town centre is a densely compact urban area with no significant formal open spaces. The proximity of Richmond Green, the riverside and Richmond Park, however, means that open space is easily accessible from the urban core.
At either end of George Street there are urban spaces punctuating the tight urban form. At the northern end is the pedestrian area of Lower George Street, The Square and the Dome Building which provide space for cycle parking and outdoor dining for the various surrounding eateries.
Trees are distinctly lacking along the central thoroughfares of George Street and Hill Street, with only a handful at either end, and a slightly larger concentration in the centre, lining Lower George Street. The surrounding streets of Paradise Road, Sheen Road and Parkshot boast more greenery, though it is Victoria Place with its mature London Plane trees, Church Walk and the green space surrounding St. Mary Magdalene Church (the latter which is listed on the Gardens Trust Inventory) that provide a welcome secluded space in the centre where one can sit and relax away from the commercial thoroughfares and traffic.
Given the largely commercial nature of the Central Richmond Conservation Area, modest gardens are very much a feature almost exclusively limited to the residential streets and properties on the periphery of the main urban core, including Halford Road, Larkfield Road and St. John’s Road. Victoria Place and Waterloo Place are perhaps two of the few exceptions.
This Management Plan outlines how the Council intends to preserve and enhance the character and appearance of the Conservation Area in future. The Council has a duty to formulate and publish these proposals under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.
The existing layout and surrounding residential streets are important features of the Conservation Area and are key to defining its overall special character. However, the commercial aspect of the area makes it particularly vulnerable to development, particularly with regard to shop fronts, signage etc. With any change in proprietor, it is important that any changes to the shop fronts are minimal and sensitive to the building.
Please note that the following proposals include suggested environmental improvements, some of which may fall outside the Council’s control. There are also likely to be limitations to implementing some of the proposals, including resource challenges.
Problems and pressures
- Development pressure which may harm the balance of views, skylines and landmarks.
- Many good quality original shopfronts have been altered by the removal of historic features or addition of new poor-quality ones, inappropriate details such as disproportionate signage, excessive illumination, loss of detailing such as plinths, pilasters, inset doorways and poor materials.
- Loss of public houses.
- Loss of traditional architectural features and materials due to unsympathetic alterations.
- Use of poor-quality products in building works such as uPVC, roofing felt and GRP (glass-reinforced plastic) products.
- Painting and rendering of a number of building façades has a negative impact on the street scene and the intended appearance and proportions of the building, diluting the impact of detailing and hiding maintenance problems.
- The front façade of Richmond Station would benefit from cleaning.
Traffic management and transport
- Heavy traffic congestion throughout much of the day.
- Traffic volume and its associated noise, danger and pollution creates a relatively poor pedestrian and shopping environment.
- Conflicting parking needs of residents, shoppers, businesses and local employees.
Street furniture and materials
- Street clutter and traffic signs have a negative impact on the townscape.
Trees and landscape
- There is a lack of trees and planting, specifically along Hill Street and George Street.
Routes and spaces
- Narrow pavements in a number of places cause pinch points for pedestrians, especially at bus stops.
- Due to the impact of traffic, pedestrian crossing of streets can be difficult throughout the Conservation Area.
- The station car park.
- The service area to Marks and Spencer on Red Lion Street.
- Mini recycling areas at the top of Eton Street and at Spencer House.
- A number of buildings in the Conservation Area have a particularly negative impact on the townscape due to either their form, massing or appearance. These include 45 & 59 George Street, 49-59 Kew Road, 3 Paradise Road, properties/area around Castle Yard & Glovers Lodge, Ambassador House, Oriel House and Eton House.
Opportunities for enhancement and recommendations
- Preservation, enhancement and reinstatement of architectural quality and unity.
- Encourage the restoration of painted and rendered brick facades to their original appearance.
- Retain and improve the quality of shopfronts and advertisements.
- Focus on further improvements for pedestrians in the town centres.
- Redevelopment to improve interchange facilities and the station car park to enhance the setting and sense of arrival to town centre (this is set out as part of a site allocation in the Council’s Local Plan).
- Improve the crossing point for pedestrians at Lower George Street/Eton Street
- Cleaning of the façade to Richmond Station.
- Maintain and improve the distinctive character of the alleyways.
- Resist excessive building heights where this may have a negative effect on character, such as at The Quadrant.
- Rationalise existing signage and street furniture where opportunities arise.
- Increase tree planting and greening of George Street.
- Encourage the reinstatement of appropriate walls, railings and hedges to boundaries throughout the conservation area. Also encourage improvement of existing boundaries where necessary.
- Investigate the potential to improve the service area behind Marks and Spencer to provide a positive frontage along Red Lion Street.
- Seek improvements to the Odeon annex and alley from Ormond Terrace to Castle Yard.
- Improve the appearance of the recycling facilities; those at the top of Eton Street and at Spencer House could be more sensitively sited.
- An upcoming multi-million pound scheme will soon provide a cycle parking hub for 1,000s of bikes at Richmond Station car park.
- Street scene general guidelines: existing areas of high-quality paving (such as stone and granite) should be maintained and extended if possible. Established patterns of street furniture should be continued or refer to the Council’s Public Space Design Guide. Colour street furniture generally black or dark grey.
Up to: Conservation areas
Updated: 20 July 2022