4D Studio residential architect and interior designer are following with interest the current deliberations by Richmond Council who are choosing the winning scheme for new houses in Richmond to be developed on the Friars Lane Car Park in Richmond.
This important Richmond site is in a prominent location close to the historic riverside of Richmond town centre. It is within a Richmond conservation area, visible from the River Thames and within the Thames Policy Area and surrounded by listed buildings. It is a highly sensitive and constrained site. Architects and designers at 4D Studio ecognise that any redevelopment proposals will have a significant impact on the character and appearance of the surrounding area and will have to be of the highest design quality.
Research into this part of Richmond by 4D Studio architects and interior designers reveals that historically most of this site was occupied by a large brewery building. The 1886-93 OS map of Surrey shows it surrounded by residential development most of which can still be seen today. The main differences are the replacement of Queensberry Villa with the interwar Queensberry House development of flats and the infill of some of the open space to the north west of the site at the western end of the Retreat.
The site has in more recent times been used as a Richmond car park. It was accepted by the Inspector at the UDP Inquiry that there are sufficient parking facilities elsewhere in town and that subject to adequate replacement parking spaces for the disabled being provided at Richmond Green its development ‘would offer a rare opportunity to enhance the Conservation Area’ (IR 11.37).
Friar’s Lane forms the western, and part of the southern boundary of the site. It is an important route connecting Richmond Green with the riverside. It has an area of 1524 sq m. The topography of the area gently slopes down towards the river.
The immediate neighbour, the Grade II Listed Queensberry Terrace is an elegant late georgian terrace that must be recognised and respected. To the south, victorian Grade II Listed 1-3 Cholmondeley Walk and the Queensberry House Gazebo dominate Friar’s Lane. Grade II Listed St. Helena House and 1-5 St. Helena Terrace built in1834-35, are fine examples of terraced housing addressing the river.
Generally properties front onto Friar’s Lane. Friar’s Lodge and the properties of Queensberry Place form a consistent building line set back behind shallow front gardens with boundary walls defining the edge to the lane.
Queensberry House on the opposite side of Friar’s Lane to the car park site provides a hard edge enclosing the street space its impact softened bya verge and trees to the boundary. The curve in Friar’s Lane at the outside corner of this site is an important feature of the local townscape with the gazebo of Queensberry House an important element drawing pedestrians down from Richmond Green to the riverside. The street edge is defined here by the tall brick boundary walls of the rear gardens of the properties fronting the river.
The site is surrounded on all sides by Grade 2 listed 18th and early 19th century buildings of architectural and historic interest. The character of the area is urban with a generally fine grain of houses on relatively small plots providing a domestic scale. Buildings of 2 to 2.5 storeys surround the site to the north with a generally larger scale of 2 to 3 storey houses fronting the river to the south.
There are a variety of architectural styles but an overall degree of consistency in the use of materials. The great majority of buildings have been built in a brown or yellow brick, with some render/stucco to houses in Queensberry Place and Retreat Road.