Richmond Park ballet school must wait on fate

Richmond and Twickenham Times: Uncertain: The ballet school needs to raise more money after cuts Uncertain: The ballet school needs to raise more money after cuts

The Olympic cycle races have inadvertently slammed the brakes on plans enabling Richmond’s Royal Ballet School to host parties.


The school in White Lodge, Richmond Park, has applied for a year-round licence to host weddings, classical concerts and events as part of its £1m survival plan, after the government froze its funding until 2015.


Notices informing those who may be affected by the changes were displayed around the park, but gates where the notices were hung were taken down to make way for the Olympic road race.


The applicants and interested parties attended a meeting with the council’s licensing sub-committee last Friday, but it was cut short when it emerged people had not seen the notices.


Councillor Susan Chappell, who chaired the meeting, said: “As a result of the Olympic Games the gates were moved so the notices physically couldn’t possibly have been seen.”


Thomas O’Maoileoin, who is applying for the licence on behalf of the school, said: “It is very disappointing, it slows us down and we all know what is going to happen now – an orchestrated group of objections.”


All funds raised through the additional income generated through events the licence would allow will go back into the running and upkeep of the school.


The Friends of Richmond Park objected to the plans arguing that noise and light pollution, as well as increased traffic, would result if the licence was granted.


Max Lankestar of the friends group highlighted Richmond Park as a site of scientific interest and said late-night events would disturb the bats, badgers and owls in the park.


He said: “White Lodge is in the centre of the park therefore activities are bound to have an effect on the park, namely the wildlife.”


Nearby Pembroke Lodge, which hosts weddings and corporate events, did not submit any objection to the licence.


The licence would allow White Lodge to host indoor events until 1am, outdoor music events and dinners until 10pm and offer 24-hour on-site accommodation to visitors.


Mr O’Maoileoin said most events would be restricted to the school holidays and those that lasted until 1am would be rare.


He added: “The Royal Ballet School would host mainly classical concerts, we won’t be booking Metallica.”


The Metropolitan Police put forward 12 recommendations including installation of CCTV cameras and a ban on 18th birthday parties – all of which were met.


Once the notices are back up they must stay there for 28 days and any objections to the plans must be submitted within that time.

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