Hampton and Molesey Riverside Trust hmrt logo

Current and Recent Issues

Updated Autumn 2021

A recent win was the reopening of the Thames riverside path alongside the Hampton Waterworks site between Thames Close and the old parish dock opposite Platt's Eyot, on the Lower Sunbury Road. This took some time but Richmond Council had been corresponding with Thames Water and the result was that chains and locks were removed at both access points each end of this path. The public can again walk the path (entry from Thames Close and from the parish dock at Platt's Eyot), as agreed some years ago in a Section 106 agreement with the developers of Thames Close. The riverside walk should be open from 9am to dusk every day and kept clear for walkers, but Thames Water has the right to close it for one day a year for operational activities. Any closure of the pathway for longer periods should be only with written consent of Richmond Council.

The path originally connected two important wharves serving Hampton: the Hard at Bell Hill and the old parish dock opposite Platt's Eyot, providing convenient access between the two along the river front - it must have been an essential right of way when both were busy with working river traffic.

Jolly Boatman

The most recent application for hotel and residential development on the derelict site of the old Jolly Boatman, the station car park and the areas around Hampton Court Station, has been rejected by Elmbridge Council. Local voluntary organisations and councillors have strongly opposed a series of proposals, as has Hampton Court Palace.

Hucks Boatyard

Hucks Boatyard served river users for many decades. The site is clearly identifiable from its fine Swiss chalet - an ornate construction imported from Switzerland about the turn of the 19th century. More recent planning history, as Thames Riviera, has resulted in unuthorised development and encroachment into the river channel. There have been court cases and planning authority enforcement. Sadly, there is no working boatyard or dry dock as once existed.
The Trust, along with numerous other local organisations and residents, has objected in the strongest terms to this blatant flouting of every regulation in a conservation area. The Council has been in a long drawn-out legal effort to rectify the situation. The Trust and members of the Trust have attended planning inquiries to ensure local opinion is heard. However, the Trust remains faintly hopeful of getting some of the river back for navigation and local people - some time in the future.

Illegal Moorings

There have been a significant legal development relating to the "slumboats" - accommodation barges mooored without authorisation near the slipway at Sadlers Ride carpark on Hurst Park and elsewhere locally. Surrey Fire and Rescue brought a successful action against the owner on grounds of fire safety, which was upheld at Guildford Crown Court late 2020. A report from the case is here

The Envionment Agency brought a prosecution at Staines Maistrates' Court in Septembe 2021 against vessel owner Alastair Trotman, on four charges in total, for causiing obstruction and failing to comply with Harbour Master directions. The judge has informed us that he has been found guilty of the four counts against him. Judgment is awaited.

Unauthorised mooring of scores of residential boats - many very dilapidated - in occupation along the Molesey bank of the Thames has been a problem for some time. River users are permitted to moor boats up for up to 24 hours in passing - an old, established right - but any longer is unauthorised, unless on Environment Agency visitor moorings. There are no facilities or services, such as sewage disposal, and occupants are now "claiming" riverbank for themselves alongside their unauthorised mooring. This riverside land between the towpath and water's edge is public land, held for the common good since time immemorial, and the setting for the Thames Path Right of Way and National Trail.

Richmond upon Thames Council, owners of public land on the Hampton bank, have succeeded in establishing new byelaws with powers to move on offending vessels. This has restored these spaces for the public to freely use and enjoy.

But the wider problems persists with unauthorised live-aboard vessels large and small upstream and down on the Surrey riverbank. The Environment Agency has been to the County Court on several occasions to try to resolve what has become particularly offensive development and the council has served enforcement notices. With a plethora of land-owners - Surrey, Elmbridge, Environment Agency, Hampton Court, Thames Water - the Trust is working with others on a broader solution. There have been letters from Ministers to say this problem along the waterways is recognised, so we wait and see. Meanwhile - apart from mooring on Richmond's land - vessels move around or simply stick where they are, leading to no-go areas along the Thames Path and rubbish that blights the environment.

Garrick's Temple

The Trust takes a continuing keen interest in this unique Grade 1 listed building and Lawn which graces our riverside. Generally the Temple is open free to the public on Sundays from March until October, and during the summer months a range of cultural events are held in the Temple and gardens.
Members will be interested to learn that the Temple Trust is getting on with a scheme to develop the Loggia in the garden as a year-round cultural and educational resource.

Molesey Towpath

The Thames Path on the Molesey side is extremely popular with walkers and cyclists, affording beautiful vistas along its whole length from Hampton Court Bridge to Walton. The Trust's remit covers the riverside as far as the head of Platt's Eyot.

The Trust is mindful of increased light pollution affecting the rural Surrey bank and in contact with land owners and operators to ensure the dark river corridor is protected for wildlife.

Platt's Eyot

Since a recent, serious fire on Platt's Eyot this year (2021), its future is uncertain. The boat building and repair businesses on the downstream area of the island were destroyed, with the listed boat sheds. There have been proposals in the past for significant development, which met with considerable resistance, but there are always difficulties over the bridge to Hampton for residential development requiring traffic access. The island is also nature conservation area. The understanding is the island is now owned by Shanley Investments (Sorbon Estates).

Hurst Meadows

A planning application submitted in 2016 to build a warehouse-style water activities centre opposite St Alban's Riverside on the Molesey riverbank at Hurst Meadows was withdrawn in 2017. Another was submitted, but turned down by Elmbridge Borough Council. The Trust joined witha vast majority of local residents and riparian organisations in opposing the introduction of a very large modern building - a 30m x 10m x 8m high warehouse - into the heart of the Arcadian riverside and on the functional floodplain, within a site of nature conservation importance. The Environment Agency strongly objected to the application on all grounds.

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