Support our Application to Host Weekly Supper Clubs

On 31 January 2014 we submitted a planning application to Richmond Council to offer supper clubs to our customers on a weekly basis, instead of over a number of ad hoc occasions. Unfortunately, four years later, we remain no closer to being able to open for dinner.


On 17th January 2018, our application to host regular weekly supper clubs (Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings) went before Richmond Council.


Unfortunately our application was ‘refused’.


Despite this, it was truly incredible to have such a show of support for our application. On behalf of the team at Petersham Nurseries we wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who wrote in support, signed our petition and even joined us in York House at Richmond Council to hear the verdict.


The outcome comes after a protracted dialogue with Richmond Council. In 2011 we submitted a planning application to open one evening per week and host weekly Saturday supper clubs. The application was ‘refused’, citing “the proposal would result in the expansion of an inappropriate use to the detriment of the character of Metropolitan Open Land and would result in an adverse effect on the amenities of neighbouring residential occupiers and the area generally”.


Coming away from this initial refusal, as suggested and agreed by Richmond Council, we tightened up our thorough Evening Management Plan* put in place to ensure that there is no noise and disturbance to our neighbours. We additionally relocated our supper club entrance 60m away from our nearest neighbour, in turn moving vehicular movements and parked cars to over 80 metres away, to further minimise any disturbance. We subjected our supper clubs to multiple rigorous parking/traffic and environmental/noise surveys. The surveys demonstrated there is no adverse effect to neighbours with windows open and within the officers pre-committee report it was stated that the results of the noise surveys were not disputed. In the same report, the Council went on to commend our traffic mitigation measures and commitment to sustainable green travel, with the highways officer accepting the conclusions drawn from the transport surveys that the proposal would not have an adverse impact on road congestion or local street parking.


We took this evidence to committee on 17th January 2018.


The committee was divided in opinion, with four members voting with us and four against. The committee chair was given the deciding vote, yet once again the application was refused this time citing that “the proposal would result in the expansion of an inappropriate use to the detriment of the character and function of Metropolitan Open Land and would, by reason of an increased level of pedestrian and vehicular activity around the site, result in an adverse effect on the amenities of neighbouring residential occupiers and the area generally”.


There was hot debate amongst the Richmond Borough Ward Councillors on the evening. With the evidence submitted they found it difficult to dispute our conclusions that the evenings cause no noise or traffic disturbance, moreover that there is sufficient capacity for parking customers. Instead, the  case hung on the fact we are situated on Metropolitan Open Land (MOL), and there were no special circumstances to grant an exception to the policy framework. They did point out however that we have been operating as A1 retail/ garden centre in MOL as an established use since 1967 with unrestricted opening hours – day or night.


If you didn’t attend and are curious how it went, you can view the evening here (We start at 1hr 5mins).


Our supper clubs are always in great demand, with evenings selling out within days.


We would like to be able to offer these to our customers more regularly, therefore we look to appeal the decision of the Richmond Council Planning Committee. We welcome your continued support, and you can sign our ongoing petition for more regular evening supper clubs here.


*Evening Management Plan

—Supper Clubs are attended only by guests with an advance reservation.

—Travel arrangements are suggested and agreed with guests in advance.

—Customers are discouraged from driving and advised of taxi drop off/ pick up location so to steer clear of neighbouring roads and limit access to Petersham Nurseries directly via Church Lane.

—Return journeys are organised with local taxi companies all of whom operate hybrid vehicles which have a much lower noise footprint than conventional diesel engine taxis.

—Guests are collected from their table once the taxi has arrived for a swift departure.

—All vehicles arriving are advised by our parking attendants to switch of vehicle lights, engines and the team assist opening and closing doors to minimise noise.

—Employee incentives are used to encourage staff to travel to work via means other than car, including a bike to work scheme, annual travel passes and company subsidised hybrid taxis for evening shifts.

—Guests are asked to depart respectfully for the residential area no later than 11pm. This message is reiterated on menus, reservation confirmations and online.

—As an additional mitigation measure the pedestrian entrance to the restaurant for Supper Club events was  relocated to a newly built gate some 20 metres east along Church Lane. This takes the pedestrian activity further from the nearest neighbouring property than was previously the case. It also moved car parking further east to some 70 metres away from the property, compared to the previous 40-metre distance.

—Upon walking through pedestrian gate, within 13m, guests are taken inside the shop towards the restaurant, in turn containing the noise of guests arriving to inside the glasshouse.

—No parking or vehicles allowed beyond (i.e. west of) the proposed new pedestrian access gate at any point during the evening.