Revised Plans for the Café and Carriage Display

Significant changes have been made to the proposals for the Pavilion Café and the Carriage Gallery and these were submitted for planning permission on 14 January 2015.

The first planning application for the replacement of the café was published with all the other planning documents in March 2014 and we posted it on this web site. The proposal was to build a new café on the same site with a display gallery of 128 sq m (internally) to house the Rothschild carriages, the Hansom Cab and other items from the Museum’s transport collection. There may have been room for the Pony Phaeton, delivery hand-carts and perhaps a penny-farthing or two.

The Friends Committee considered the proposals in detail, and drawing on our experience of running this café in the 1980s, three committee members met the project team and the planning officer to discuss possible improvements (along with other issues). Planning permission was granted with conditions.

West elevation of Cafe

Since then major changes have been made to the proposals which required “a non-material amendment”. This was announced on 14 January on the Ealing web-site with 21 days to respond, and Ealing sent a notification to people on its mailing list. The Friends circulated it to all of our members on our email list.

The Ealing Council web page gave only partial information so if you wanted to see the full detail you had to study the plans and documents through the Hounslow Council Planning Portal. This is no logner available but links to the designs are provided below.

The internal layout of the Café has been altered, the kitchen space has been enlarged (which we thought was essential), while the area allocated to toilets has been reduced. The seating area inside has been increased from approx 88 sq m to 115 sq m (the existing café is approx 90 sq m). A hatch has been proposed to enable dog owners to be served from outside, with a special enclosed seating area for them. From inside, customers will have views of the grass area towards the Round Pond, or the children’s’ playground and path into the rest of the Park. They will also see through the full glass wall into the Carriage gallery.

We are extremely disappointed to find that the proposed gallery has been halved in size and so cannot take many exhibits from the transport collection. As a result it is being suggested that a Rothschild carriage could go to Waddesdon on long-term loan. We have been told the project cannot afford the earlier proposal and also that this new plan fits better with the existing trees. At the very least we are recommending incorporating the viewing area (about 30% of the ground plan) into the display space.

The second major change is in paragraph 2.2.3 of the revised Design and Access Statement: “The existing toilet block will be removed following the establishment of the proposed sports facilities in the near future”. This refers to the nearby toilet block opened in 2011. As the proposed new toilets in the Café are now wholly inside (in the earlier plan they were accessed from outside) it means that they will only be available during Café opening hours. It is hard to understand the logic of the proposed closure and we are objecting to it. Our comments have been sent both to the planning officers and to the Gunnersbury Project Board.

We have posted documents to help you visualise the proposals.
A plan of the existing café
A plan of the first proposed replacement
The current proposal for the replacement
A plan for the landscaping around the café (page 39 of the Heritage Impact Statement)
Images of the appearance of the café
The Friends’ submission to the Planning Department at Hounslow

Please note all plans are ©Rodney Melville + Partners