Gloriana plans unveiled after early mention sparks "wild rumours" (From Richmond and Twickenham Times)
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Gloriana Twickenham boathouse plans unveiled after early mention sparks "wild rumours"
Lord True moved to ease fears over the proposed Gloriana boat house in Twickenham and criticised the spreading of "wild rumours".
Richmond Council launched its online consultation this week, outlining plans for a new boathouse at Orleans House for the Queen's Royal Row Barge.
Some are .angry about the plans with concerns over the environmental impact on the area and the loss of facilities such as a children's playground and café.
But the council leader hoped people would view the plans with an open mind.
He said: "Residents can now see the facts - we don’t have any intention of removing the playground.
"In fact our plans should improve the play facilities already there and we will work with parents on this - the café will also be retained.
"We hope that instead the unattractive building currently onsite, we can deliver a better local facility. Gloriana, as well as being a working craft, is an extraordinary work of local design, art and craftsmanship.
"It will also be one of the few tangible remains of the national celebrations of the Queen's historic Diamond Jubilee, an event that has occurred only three times in English history."
He added that he has made no secret of his desire to bring the Gloriana to Richmond but admitted he should have "kept mum" until the consultation was ready to be launched.
Other boroughs had expressed an interest in providing a permanent home for Gloriana, such as Greenwich, but Richmond was chosen for its location and links to the boat.
A feasibility study was carried out, exploring sites at in Buccleuch Gardens, the Gothic site in Petersham Road, Marble Hill Park/Orleans Gardens and existing Richmond boatyards.
Only Orleans Gardens was considered suitable.
The project is still subject to funding and planning permission.
Twickenham MP Vince Cable said: "We do not want to lose the playground - it is well-liked and well-supported in the area. Surely it can be organised in a way that does not have major negative effects."
The council confirmed the area would not be covered in concrete, but ome trees would likely be removed.
International architects Foster and Partners designed a potential modern boat house, visitors' centre, enhanced new cafe and play area, with work possibly starting early next year.
St Margarets and North Twickenham Councillor Alexander Ehmann said: "While it would be inappropriate for us to comment on the specific proposals at such an early stage in the consultation, if Coun True is concerned about 'wild rumours', he only has himself to blame.
"The furtive manner in which he has handled this project so far, including, we understand, keeping it secret from his own cabinet colleagues, has allowed what could be an exciting opportunity for the borough to become mired in controversy."
The council's consultation will be available on its website until July 29.
People can also have their say at drop-in sessions, held between 10am to 4pm at Orleans House Gallery Octagon Room on July 18 and at the same time in July 19 and 20, in the Stables.