Petersham Nurseries seeks support to save their restaurant

By means of their ‘Save Our Restaurant’ campaign and petition, Petersham Nurseries are seeking support to be able to provide evening dining.

Petersham Nurseries evening dining experience
credit: 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.

According to the Richmond based nursery, for the past two decades they have been struggling to obtain the necessary planning consents to open our restaurant in the evening. In 2022, they were granted an extended licence to serve alcohol in the evening, although they were not permitted to serve food beyond 5pm. They are currently appealing against an Enforcement Notice served by Richmond Council and are seeking public support to help us save their dinner service and protect employee jobs. The nursery employs 163 staff (79% of whom live within a 5-mile radius and 13% live in postcode TW10).

The problem is that 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. Over the years, the council is 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”. The main objection is the perceived noise and disturbance from staff, customers and vehicles, in having the restaurant open at night. Though, for many residents, the business is a community asset frequented by locals.

“Our Supper Clubs at Petersham Nurseries provide enchanting and intimate occasions to dine by candlelight in the magical setting of our greenhouses. Held throughout the year for well over a decade, our dinner events have always been in great demand and are referred to as an ethereal and unique experience”, state the nursery.

Since 2006, they been working with officers of Richmond Council trying to vary the current opening hours in order to offer dinner services to their customers on a more regular basis, just like a regular restaurant. “Unfortunately, 18 years later, we remain no closer to this goal. Our negotiations have been an unusual, protracted, and expensive process. We have now received an Enforcement Notice to cease our evening operation and are currently in the process of appealing against this’, states the nursery.

“It is important to note that we have been hosting Supper Clubs under temporary licences for more than ten years and are not aware of any complaints or notifications of noise disturbances from neighbours, other members of the public to Richmond Council.  As suggested and agreed by Richmond Council several years ago, a thorough Evening Management Plan was put in place to ensure that there is no disturbance to our neighbours” say Petersham Nursery.

To combat any potential disturbance the nursery has:

  • Established an Evening Management Plan. Dining is by advance reservation only with travel arrangements strictly outlined such as customers are discouraged from driving, encouraged instead to use the (locally assigned) taxi drop off and pick up location to Church Lane use and access.
  • Undergone independent, professional Noise and Traffic Impact assessments, carried out over multiple years. The consultants confirmed that there was no adverse impact to gardens or living rooms in the nearest dwellings during the operation of the restaurant in the evening. Assessment figures show that 27% of the diners come by car which amounts to 21 people in 7 cars, all of which reportedly can be accommodated on Church Lane and not impede neighbouring roads.

Considering the Petersham Nursery reputation, employment levels, status as Green Michelin Star & winner of Richmond Chamber of Commerce Best Business for Environmental Sustainability 2023 and (beyond the complainants) their broad appeal to local, national and international clientele, the council face a difficult choice. A choice, which Petersham Nurseries hopes will be even harder with successful petition numbers.