Marble Hill Revived:
Your questions answered
We’ve had a very positive response from many people to our proposals for Marble Hill, but we’re aware of some concerns. Here are our responses to some of the questions that have been asked:
- Marble Hill House
- Landscape and wildlife
- The café at Marble Hill
- Sports facilities
- Dog-walking and play area
- Events at Marble Hill
- Traffic and visitors
- The extended consultation programme
We also welcome all feedback on the project, have your say here.
What does English Heritage hope to do at Marble Hill House and Park?
English Heritage wants to do justice to both the house and park through a series of £6m improvements, including:
- Opening Marble Hill House to the public - for free - five days a week, seven months a year, a dramatic improvement on its current limited opening hours
- Restoring a small part of one of the great lost gardens of London - re-creating the 18th-century grounds once enjoyed by the few and opening them up to all
- Improving the site as a whole, including creating a new children's play area, completely refurbishing the sports facilities (with changing rooms for women) and extending the current café
Why not just leave Marble Hill House and Park as it is?
Anyone visiting Marble Hill today will struggle to understand its significance, enjoy all its stories, and appreciate the historic relationship between the house and the landscape.
Across the park, the tree stock is in decline. The sports pitches are worn and there are no changing rooms for women.
In 2016/17, it cost English Heritage more than £200,000 to run Marble Hill. As a charity, we cannot sustain that level of cost and the Marble Hill Revived project will help to reduce the overall running costs.
For all those reasons, doing nothing is not an option. The £4.08m funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery gives a unique opportunity to revitalize Marble Hill, to bring its stories to life, to involve more local people in it, and to invest in its long-term future.
Marble Hill House
What are your proposals for the historic house?
At present, Marble Hill House - a Georgian masterpiece - is only open by guided tours on Saturdays and Sundays in the summer. We want to open the house five days a week for seven months a year - and for free.
We also plan to install new interpretation to tell the property's fascinating stories.
And most importantly, we want to repair and conserve the exterior to preserve it for future generations.
What works will be done to outside of the House?
We will be repairing and conserving the exterior of the house to preserve it for future generations. Works will include redecoration, joinery and roof repairs.
Landscape and Wildlife
What are your plans for the gardens and landscape at Marble Hill?
We're aiming to restore the core of this exceptional 18th-century landscape, reinstating woodland walks, an orchard and a flower garden. The structure of this design can still be seen and archaeologists have recently uncovered details of this lost landscape, including a ninepin bowling alley.
For the first time since Marble Hill became a public park, the hectare of land that makes up the woodland quarters will be opened up to park users.
We also want to restore a rare wetland grassland habitat along part of the southern boundary of the park as well as improve the meadow areas created in recent years.
- For further details on our research and key findings please read, Research to uncover Henrietta's garden at Marble Hill.
Why do you need to remove existing trees? And how many trees do you need to remove?
Actually, we want to increase the area of tree cover in the park by planting more than 400 trees and in doing so, reinstate the historic view from the Thames.
But we will be thinning the overcrowded woodland quarters, removing saplings, poor quality trees and shrubby material. This will improve the growing conditions to ensure the best trees can be enjoyed by future generations. The new trees and shrubs we plant will not only restore the Georgian character of the woodland garden but will provide more nectar, berries and foliage for insects, birds and mammals.
In total, we would need to remove 347 trees which are either dead, in a poor or declining state or are preventing younger, healthier trees from developing. The majority of trees would be of poor quality or small, self-sown saplings.
How will you protect the wildlife?
We have carried out a number of ecological surveys to identify significant habitats and species that need to be conserved and protected. Any work we undertake would be programmed to minimise the impact on these.
The new meadow areas, trees and shrub planting would provide more nectar, berries and foliage, increasing the variety of wildlife habitats and biodiversity.
We will be employing a head gardener and apprentice who will recruit park volunteers to help us with biodiversity projects such as maintaining bird and bat boxes.
Where will the extra 400 trees go? Will these trees disrupt the sport pitches?
New tree planting would only take place in areas which are not currently used for sport. The majority would be planted in the area between the house and the river.
Who will look after all these new areas and features?
We would employ a head gardener and an apprentice gardener to manage the garden. We would also recruit garden volunteers.
THE CAFÉ AT MARBLE HILL
Where would the café extension be located? And what are the proposed opening hours?
The proposed café extension would be located within the courtyard behind the Coach House. It is a café - not a restaurant - and the simple but delicious menu would reflect this. The opening hours would be very similar to what they are now - the café would only open during the day and would close at 6pm.
What would be the visual impact of the café? Would it have an impact on the protected "Arcadian view" from Richmond Hill?
The proposed café extension would be located within the courtyard behind the Coach House and would have minimal visual impact on the park and house.
The extension would be much lower than the 19th-century building behind which it stands and would not be seen at all from Richmond Hill.
Why does English Heritage want to change the café?
There are a number of reasons. Firstly, we want to improve the offer at the café for both local residents and visitors to Marble Hill. But also because it costs English Heritage more than £200,000 a year to run Marble Hill and the extra money raised from the café would help to reduce the overall running costs. The income from the café would be spent on caring and improving the house and park.
How are you addressing residents' concerns about the café?
The café has been one of the most contentious elements of our proposals and it will be the subject of one of the consultation workshops taking place in the first half of 2018.
What works will be happening to the sports facilities?
We want to improve the sports facilities by upgrading the pitches and playing surfaces. We would also like to upgrade the changing rooms to make them more family friendly and suitable for men, women and disabled sports users.
When will the works to the sports pitches take place?
We would hope to begin work on the sports pitches in 2019. However exact timings will depend on the outcome of the consultation process which is now taking place.
Will clubs have to move while the works are being carried out?
We will develop a phased plan, in consultation with local sports clubs, to minimise any disruption to users. Our initial planning has shown that, with a small amount of flexibility on the part of our current sports group users, it should be possible to allow all current sports groups to remain at Marble Hill throughout the works.
Will the price of the pitches go up?
Over the course of the project we anticipate that prices will increase to reflect the improved facilities which we will be providing. Any cost increases will be realistic and competitive.
DOG-WALKING AND PLAY AREA
Will we still be able to walk our dogs?
Are you introducing dog free areas?
During our consultations some families told us that they would like a space which is dog-free. We're hoping to add a new play area to the park which would be dog-free.
Will you still allow professional dog walkers to use the park?
Yes, professional dog walkers will continue to be welcome. Following the changes which have been made in parks operated by the London Borough of Richmond which have reduced the number of dogs that a professional dog walker may bring into the park (from six to four), we are currently reviewing the current park rules with a view to bringing Marble Hill in line with other parks in Richmond.
Why are you planning a new children's play area?
At our consultation events some parents told us they would like play equipment near the café for children to enjoy. The play equipment would be designed for children up to nine years old and the play area would provide a safe, dog-free area for families.
EVENTS AT MARBLE HILL
Are you planning to install a marquee for weddings?
We would like to have the option of erecting a temporary marquee for weddings on an occasional basis. This would be to the side of the house, in an area currently not open to the public and well screened behind greenery. The marquee would be dismantled after every wedding and would not remain in situ for the whole of the summer.
How many weddings do you anticipate holding at Marble Hill?
At the moment we host about six weddings a year at Marble Hill. Our aim is to increase this to a maximum of 12 a year.
What other type of events do you plan holding?
We want to develop a new programme of small scale, family friendly events which will engage the local community and attract new generations to Marble Hill. Our desire is to move away from such large-scale events as the House Festival.
What is happening with the House Festival?
In 2018, the House Festival will move to Kenwood and will no longer be held at Marble Hill. The change in venue fits in with our desire to move away from large-scale events and focus on small scale, family friendly events.
Did the money generated from the House Festival go towards Marble Hill?
Yes, the House Festival donated £70,000 a year to English Heritage, which was ring-fenced for the Marble Hill Revived project.
TRAFFIC AND VISITORS
How many extra visitors do you expect to receive from the Marble Hill Revived project?
We expect that once we open the house five days a week, 52,000 people would visit the property after the first full year - the majority of which would consist of people who already visit the park but never visit the house.
Will this mean increased traffic congestion, and will the car park be able to cope?
Our main audience is local people who already visit the park but who never visit the house itself. Given that and Marble Hill's excellent public transport links, we do not expect a major increase in traffic should we open the house and new café. Any additional traffic would be easily accommodated in the existing underused car-park.
THE EXTENDED CONSULTATION PROGRAMME
Why is English Heritage withdrawing the planning application?
Last year we submitted a planning application for a series of £6m improvements in the house and across the park. Many people responded positively to our plans, but there were also serious concerns about some elements of our proposals, notably the café extension, the restoration of the historic garden, and the new children's play area.
We want to get our proposals right and as a result we've decided to take a step back, withdrawn the planning application and are starting a new community consultation programme.
Does that mean English Heritage didn't consult adequately with the local community previously?
Before we submitted the planning application we consulted with a number of key local groups. We also ran public drop-in sessions, visited key community groups to get their views, and held three public meetings. While many people responded positively to our plans there were some concerns raised and we want to work with the local community to address those.
What happens next?
Securing the broad support of the community before taking the project further is in the best interests of Marble Hill House and Park. We are starting a new community consultation programme to look afresh at the plans and to try to find practical consensus on those areas of concern.
- Widen the membership of the existing Community Steering Group to include additional residents' groups and other groups so that their concerns can be fully represented
- Set up a number of Consultation Workshops to discuss those aspects of the proposals that have attracted particular concerns
- Organise a number of open days at the park where we can answer your questions
- Be in touch with local people and other interested parties more regularly so that you can see and read about the proposals more easily
What is the Community Steering Group and how will it work?
The Community Steering Group is currently made up of representatives from a wide range of Marble Hill Park users and the group has been considering, discussing and advising English Heritage on the proposals. We will be widening the membership of the Community Steering Group to include additional residents' groups and other groups so that their concerns can be fully represented.
What are the Consultation Workshops and how will they work?
The Consultation Workshops will discuss the three most contentious elements of the proposals - the café extension, the new children's play area and the landscape proposals. Each workshop will be made up of representatives from relevant local groups and will be led by an experienced independent facilitator. The aim of each Consultation Workshop is to consider the current proposal and what, if any, changes are needed and to come to a consensus on the way forward.
More about Marble Hill
History of Marble Hill
Read a full history of this English Palladian villa and its gardens beside the Thames, from its origins in the 1720s as a retreat from court life for Henrietta Howard to the present day.
Read more about the life of Henrietta Howard, and how she overcame personal adversity to become an extraordinary figure in Georgian court society.
Henrietta Howard’s garden at Marble Hill
Find out what makes the garden between the house and the river at Marble Hill so significant, what we know about it, and how English Heritage plans to restore it.
The View from Richmond Hill
See how artists have depicted the panoramic view from Richmond Hill over the centuries and find out how Marble Hill was saved thanks to a campaign to preserve this view.