Petersham Nurseries at loggerheads with Richmond council

One of the country’s swankiest nurseries has been found to have breached conditions relating to its operating hours and area by the council.

Petersham nurseries

Petersham Nurseries, owned by the Boglione family is best known as a lifestyle destination that includes a plant nursery, greenhouse restaurant granted the Michelin Green Star for their commitment to sustainability, teahouse and shop selling trendy antiques, homewares and gifts in Richmond. The nursery has warned it faces closure if its restaurant is not allowed to open in the evenings.

A report by council officers said the restaurant was operating in breach of conditions relating to operating hours and areas of use, as outlined in the 2009 planning permission. The site is in the Petersham Conservation Area and Metropolitan Open Land, which has the same level of protection as Green Belt. The conditions limited the operation of the restaurant to a certain area of the site and its opening hours to 10am to 4.30pm on Tuesdays to Saturdays, 11am to 4.30pm on Sundays and not opening on Mondays. A measure instilled to protect neighbours’ amenities and the Metropolitan Open Land.

The council is to reported to have received complaints from residents about the operation of the restaurant, which is apparently causing “noise disturbance”, “increased traffic” and “harming the semi-rural character of the area”. Though, as is usually the case – just as there have been complaints, for many residents, the business is a community asset frequented by locals.

According to Petersham Nurseries, the potential loss of evening revenue fundamentally impacts the viability of the business and ability to provide the 200 employed with work. Francesco Boglione and his wife Gael bought Petersham House in 1997 (after a tip-off from their friend Mick Jagger) and subsequently the adjacent garden nursery when it up for sale in 2004. Over the years the family have steadily nurtured the space in to a famed lifestyle destination.

Officers recommended the council take enforcement action against some elements of the breach to require partial compliance with the conditions. This includes allowing a minor extension to the restaurant’s operating hours to 10am to 5pm on Tuesdays to Sundays. The committee unanimously agreed with officers’ recommendations at the meeting. The compliance period is two months from the date the notice becomes effective.