Please note that The Kyoto Garden will be closed from 6-10 March while the pond is drained and cleaned.
Planning consent has been granted for exterior refurbishment of The Belvedere Restaurant, formerly the Holland House ballroom and a listed building under the curtilage of Grade 1-listed Holland House. The programme of work includes repairs to the external fabric, to the roof and very necessary renovation to halt deterioration of the tower. The building will be returned to its original form, with the removal of unsympathetic and unauthorised additions. The unsightly service plant on the roof will be reorganised for both aesthetic and functional improvement. We can look forward to a more attractive building, in better condition and ultimately a lengthening of its lifespan. We do not yet know the start date but have been reassured that scaffolding will be masked so that it cannot be seen from inside the Orangery.
Earls Court entrance
The sharp-eyed among you will have noticed that smart new curved doors have been installed in the wall either side of the beautifully restored iron gates. The old seats that circled the cherry tree and ailing Zelkova (now gone) will be replaced by wave benches set on York stone paving.
Water run off management
You might hear this work on the path from the car park up to the D Garden referred to as a ‘SUDS’ programme: Suburban Urban Drainage Systems. SUDS aims to control water flow by mimicking natural drainage instead of introducing a network of pipes. It will manage the surface water that sometimes floods towards the western edge of the park, and keep the much needed rainwater for the benefit of the park rather than lose it to the sewers. The path itself will be resurfaced this spring, and water encouraged to flow into shallow depressions along the stretch by the Ecology Centre and natural play area. These depressions will be planted with native species of wild flowers. The intention is that it should look as natural as possible, while being functional.
Membership Cards and Subscriptions
Those of you who use your membership cards to receive discounts when shopping with some of our Friends & Neighbours might have noticed that the end of February is when your card expires. A new (cream) one was enclosed with the Spring newsletter if our records show you as having paid your subscription for 2017. Your order form would have been white. All subscriptions were due on 1 January except for those who joined after 1 September 2016. If we think you have not yet paid, there would have been no membership card and your order form would have been green with a standing order form on the back. Over 600 of our members use standing orders, as it means they never have to remember again, and it helps our treasurer too. Current minimum rates are £12, or £9 for the over 65s, with joint subscriptions available for two people at the same address for £20, or £15 where both are over 65. You will agree these are very moderate sums, but we keep them low to enable all to join.
Our records are not infallible, so do contact Rhoddy on 020 7602 0304 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a query.
However you pay, we are most grateful for your support as it gives us clout in all our dealings with the Borough and other bodies.
Holland House and Café Yard: Landscaping Plan
After a year of plans, consultation, discussion and revision, the proposal for the enhancement of the Holland House terrace, café yard and re-siting of the approach road, an application for planning consent was lodged with the Council on 27 January 2017. A number of pre-planning meetings took place to ensure that the RBK&C Planning Department felt the proposals were appropriate to the environment of Grade-1-listed Holland House.
Public consultation ran until 24 February, so by the time you read this newsletter, the proposals will have undergone a further level of scrutiny, and planning officers will be going through the process of making a decision. That decision will come before the Planning Application Committee in the second half of March.
We set out in our last newsletter what we consider to be improvements to the area, and we believe all the consultation and debate has been worthwhile, as the new landscaping will make the café yard and the Holland House terrace much pleasanter spaces in which to spend time. The re-siting of the road will be safer and less disruptive to café users.
The drawings that accompany the application are the best way of showing what it will look like, and you might still be able to view the many documents on the RBK&C planning website under case No. PP/17/00353.
On the assumption that the plans are accorded consent, the work will start immediately after the 2017 opera season.
Annual General Meeting
Wednesday, 5 April 2017, at 7.30 pm in the Orangery
Much has happened since our 2016 AGM, not all exactly as expected. The replacement of the Opera Holland Park tents did not materialise for complex reasons, but proposals for enhancing the terrace of Holland House, the approach road and the café yard, did. You can read in this newsletter some of the other improvements to the park, either completed or yet to come. We need now to focus on restoration of our historic listed buildings, and on ensuring the park is secured as a safe green space that balances the often competing wishes of its user groups. Your trustees are fully involved in discussions about what is happening.
Do come to the AGM to hear what is being discussed, to air your views and help us set priorities. We welcome your support.
In Memoriam Colette Price 1931 – 2017
Colette was a trustee of the Friends for some years at the beginning of this century. She was introduced to us as a possible newsletter editor, a position she filled admirably because of her skill and feeling for words, although English was not her first language. She was born in Lyons and spent her early years there until it became apparent in the 1940s that Lyons was not a healthy place for anyone of Jewish origin. She fled into the mountains where she was taken in by a village of Huguenots who risked their lives for the rest of the war caring for her and others. Later she married an Irishman and settled in London but always maintained links with her French family who came over in force for her funeral.
Holland House and Café Yard – Landscaping Plan
In the last newsletter, I wrote that the public consultation had resulted in little criticism for the Holland House terrace proposal, or for the plan to re-site the approach road to the terrace. There were, however, concerns about the treatment of the Holland Park café.
Since then The Friends and other stakeholders have met on several occasions with architects Camlin Lonsdale to develop solutions that are in keeping with the essence of Holland Park. Camlin Lonsdale really listened to the feedback and have created a plan that, we believe, overcomes the issues raised:
• The access road to the Holland House terrace will be relocated to the south east of the current café terrace. It will no longer run through the middle of the café, which will significantly increase safety.
• The café terrace perimeter will be secure to prevent children running into the road.
• There will be separate spaces on the café terrace for those with dogs and for those who prefer not to be with dogs. The café terrace will be at least as large as it is now.
• The design is much softer and more appropriate to a park than the plan originally proposed.
• More space will be given to tables and chairs when the café is busier in summer, and some of these might be in the opened-up arcade where the old ice-cream kiosk used to be. Pay no attention to the arrangement of café furniture on the plan shown; this will be agreed with stakeholders once the café franchise has been renegotiated.
• Space for delivery lorries in the café yard will be restricted and clearly indicated.
• The whole space will be united through treatment and colour of the surfaces of the terraces and pedestrian spaces.
• The Holland House terrace will be redesigned in buff and brick-coloured surfaces that are far more appropriate to the environment of Grade-l-listed Holland House. This will be constructed to take the weight of the opera canopy anchor points.
• A power supply will be laid under the terrace so that Opera Holland Park do not have to install it annually. Drainage under the terrace should see the end of the horrible puddles that used to accumulate in winter.
• An accessible ramp will be created where the Portaloos usually stand in summer. The details of the ramp are still being finalised. At last the Portaloos will go.
• New WCs for the opera will be built on the grass to the south west of the hostel car park, next to the rail on the eastern side of the terrace. The WCs will be low built and thus hardly seen from the road in from the Duchess of Bedford Walk entrance. Any glimpse through the trees will show a tasteful finish to the small building. Permanent plumbing will remove the need for service vehicles.
There are still some details to be sorted out, but we feel there is now a design for the area to the south and west of Holland House that will be of benefit to park users. The next stage is for the landscaping plans to be lodged for planning consent, which is likely to be this autumn, with building starting no earlier than autumn 2017.
Many of you ask about the café itself, which is a separate project. The plan is for the lease of the café to go out to tender. At that point it is intended that problems of queues, noise and menu be addressed by whoever wins the franchise.
All this started with discussions about opera buildings that might replace the white tents. These were put on ice after the unsuccessful attempt to design semi-permanent buildings; it is a separate project which will not be back on the agenda until the surrounding landscaping is sorted out.
We will keep you up to date with developments.
At some time over the winter, the Kyoto Pond will be drained and cleaned. We hope that visitors will resist throwing bread into the fresh water; it makes the pond murky, and the yeast is bad for the carp.
Photo by Jennie Kettlewell
Earls Court entrance
Now that the gates have been splendidly restored, it is time to improve the area just inside the gates. The bed to the left as you enter the park will be planted to match the bed on the right. Both will be protected by knee-high rails. The Keaki tree died and the stump has been removed, along with the decaying circular bench around it. The popular circular bench round the cherry on the left also has to be removed for work around the tree and is in no fit state to be reinstated. Two new benches will be installed, set on York stone paving. The path between Phillimore Walk and the Design Museum park entrance will have been re-laid by the time you read this, all in time for the museum opening on 24 November.
Exercise in the park is encouraged, but a new licensing scheme and code of conduct restricts personal trainers from using benches, trees and other park furniture as part of their sessions. This is both to prevent damage and to ensure seated areas remain peaceful places to enjoy. Trainers must register on the scheme and are shown which areas of the park they may use to work with their clients. Further information can be found on www.rbkc.gov.uk/personaltrainers.
Wildlife pond and gates
The pond has been drained and all the amphibian life within it (see photos) safely moved to a temporary home. The plan is to reline the pond and replant the margins. The dragonflies and a busy grey wagtail will have left voluntarily before work started. Weather permitting, this work should be completed by the end of 2016, ready for schools visits in 2017.
Notable Trees Guide
Many members will have enjoyed the guide to the notable trees of Holland Park we wrote in 2007, and might even still have their copies. It is now out of print and, because of continuing demand, we decided to re-issue it. We found that a shocking 20% of the trees described have been lost, so we have re-written it to include new specimens, both newly planted trees and others which deserve attention. The new book has over 60 trees as compared with 50 in the old one. The overall format has been retained, and the same artist, Nina Barranca, has drawn leaves to illustrate the new inclusions. It is still A5 and easy to carry. The trees are arranged in walk order, but the walk can be joined at any point and indeed may take several occasions to complete depending on how long each tree is studied.
We think all members of the Friends should buy a copy, at only £5, and perhaps extra copies for Christmas presents. Please download an order form here and order now.
Subscription Renewals and Membership Cards
The Friends’ subscription year runs from 1 January. Some of you have already paid for 2017, and a healthy number (about 64%) pay by bank standing order on 1 January. New members who have joined since 1 September are already covered for 2017. To the rest of you, now is the time to pay using the order form, which can be downloaded here. If in doubt, check with Rhoddy on 020 7602 0304 or email@example.com. We would like to emphasise that it is less trouble to both you and us if you pay by standing order; if you do not yet do so we are always ready to send you a form.
You will know that your membership card, which entitles you to discounts under our Friends & Neighbours scheme, expires at the end of February. Those who have paid their subscriptions for 2017 will receive replacement cards with their spring newsletters which will reach them in late February.
Your membership gives the Friends clout when negotiating with the Borough on the park’s future. Thank you again for all your support.
You might have noticed this new logo appearing in association with the Quadron parks staff who work in Holland Park, and wondered at the reason.
The Council’s grounds maintenance contractor, Quadron Services, was acquired by id verde, Europe’s largest landscape maintenance group, earlier this year. The decision for Quadron to join the id verde family was made to secure the future of Quadron and the portfolio of clients with whom it currently has the pleasure of working. As a result, Quadron’s clients, and the residents they serve, will benefit from the expertise that id verde can offer as the largest specialist horticultural company in the country, and its 2,000 directly employed staff will benefit from the excellent career paths on offer.
Quadron’s branding is changing to incorporate this new identity, and Quadron will be updating its park staff’s uniforms and vehicles with the new id verde logo in due course. Rest assured, however, that there have been no changes to the teams of staff delivering the maintenance services in Holland Park and Kensington and Chelsea’s other parks and green spaces. You will continue to see the same staff working throughout the park, with no changes to their work specification or the quality of work you are used to seeing in Holland Park.
Ben Binnell, Bi-Borough Manager, id verde
The museum shop is now open for business and the museum itself will be fully open for visitors from 24 November. After many years of building and development, we will at last be able to enjoy the benefits of our new neighbour. In the last newsletter we said we hoped that visitor enthusiasm would not put undue pressure on the south of the park and its fragile grass. We remain concerned but have been offered the chance for discussion on this subject with directors of the museum. (Photo: Joy Puritz)
Some of you may have noticed on the RBK&C Planning website that the owners of the Safestay hostel lodged an application for a full alcohol and entertainment licence. After much debate the application was withdrawn.
New Police in Parks team
Inspector Mike Rumble reports that the Parks Police team have been joined by three new Sergeants. Rob Spry served with the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) for 30 years, latterly as Inspector at the Wandsworth Custody Suite. Robin Gallacher returns to the Parks Police after service as a Detective Sergeant in the MPS, having last served in Holland Park in the 1990s. Robin will job-share with Helen Tilbury who has been promoted to Sergeant after almost 20 years with the unit. We look forward to meeting them as they work to keep the park safe.
At last the new signage is being installed in the park. After much debate, your trustees are pleased that the choice was elegant, grey finger posts, as you see in the photo. If you already know your way about the park, you hardly notice them. If you are looking for direction, they are easy to find and follow – as already observed in the park. The information boards will be installed shortly, near to entrances, in equally elegant style. (Photo: Jennie kettlewell)
Visitors to the park often stop to look in appreciation at Mao Wen Biao’s impressive mural along the arcade to the south of the Iris Garden. The painting has stood up well to inclement weather and curious fingers, but not without a little help. Every few years Mao checks over the surface of the paintwork, cleans and touches up where necessary and then applies a new protective coating. At the end of August he could be found working away, and commented that the hot, sunny weather was ideal, as paint dried quickly. We are grateful to Mao for the wonderfully evocative painting and for his care of it. (Photo: Joy Puritz)
Mini recycling centre
For many years there has been a mini recycling centre inside the Abbotsbury Road car park entrance to Holland Park. Bins are provided for specific types of recycling. Local misunderstandings mean large, non-recyclable items (mattresses, furniture, etc.) are often dumped beside the bins and have to be cleared away by busy Quadron staff. When challenged politely, people often say something like ‘I thought this was a council place for dumping unwanted items and I’ve been using it as such for many years.’ Please note: these bins are for recyclable items only.
Earls Court Walk
In autumn 2015 the grass on the East side of the Earls Court Walk was re-seeded with tough, shade-tolerant grass. It struggles with heavy foot fall but has stayed green and can be judged a success. Now it is the turn of the grass on the West side to be hydro-seeded. In preparation the trees will be lightly crown-thinned to let through more light and give the new grass a chance. We have asked that two ‘notable’ trees in the area (single-leaved ash and pagoda tree) are exempt from crown-thinning so that the tree lovers amongst us can still reach the leaves to study and appreciate. (Photo: Jennie Kettlewell)
Update from the Ecology Centre
We often get questions about the pigs and cows that arrive in the Arboretum and Oak Enclosure meadows some years. This year there will be no grazing animals. This is because there is little grass but a great many nettles. Nettles are great for pollinators, but animals do not much appreciate them as food. Predominance of nettles occurs when soil nutrient levels are high (all those cow pats!) and the solution is that the growth will be manually cut and removed rather than grazed. Next year the situation will be re-assessed and, who knows, we might have pigs, cows or sheep.
Work will start on renovation of the Wildlife Enclosure pond at the end of September. You might have noticed that the water has looked a little murky for a while and the only permanent remedy is to drain and completely re-line the pond: a sizeable task. We understand that water, wildlife and plants will be transferred, for the duration of the works, to the raised concrete ponds in the Oak Enclosure.
Once the pond is pristine once again, the new Wildlife Area gates can be installed. They have been commissioned and paid for by The Friends, working with Ecology, Park Management and the Parks Police. More on the gates in the winter issue.
(Photo: Jennie Kettlewell)
Holland House Environment – You had your say!
Thank you for taking the opportunity to have your say when the landscape design options were open to public consultation during July. We await the formal report on your responses, but our impression from members’ feedback to trustees is that the plan for the approach road attracted little major criticism once it had been explained, and neither did the design for the surfacing of the terrace. Specific points were mentioned for both, and we hope that those are included in the report.
You can increase the value of all your subscriptions and donations by 25% without cost to yourself by signing the Gift Aid Declaration. We are very grateful for the over 60% of our members who have done so. To the others, please consider whether you qualify (you must pay UK tax) and if so sign and return the form that you will find on the back of the order form (if the latter is green). You will only have to do so once.
The Earls Court Gates Looking Splendid
Many of you have commented on how fine the Earls Court gates look now that they have been beautifully restored and are back in place. They do indeed look splendid.
The 3rd Lord Holland had the gates brought over from Belgium in 1836. The arrangement of the gate panels is 18th-century French, and the whole would appear to be a pair of fine French 18th-century gates, acquired in poor condition in the 19th century, restored and extended in the early 20th century, and equipped for their present position with new overthrow and railings to match.
The few leaves that remained before this recent restoration probably formed part of the original gates, as do the basic iron sections. The copper leaves, the baron’s coronet and the adjacent railings, belong to the 20th century.
At the start of the current century, the gates were again in a sorry state. Leaves and other bits had fallen off, but fortunately some of these had been picked up, stored and eventually taken off site for safekeeping, in 1999. The Friends knew that the bits were being held by Topp & Co., and they pushed for repair of the gates, but the high cost delayed action – until this year. Funding was eventually made available through the 106 Agreement with the Commonwealth Institute developers.
On 6 January 2016, Topp & Co., who are experts in bespoke architectural metalwork, carefully detached the gates and took them to their workshop in a large hangar on a disused airfield in North Yorkshire. That was where the painstaking task of restoration began. For the next six months skilled craftsmen worked on what they describe as a giant jigsaw, with several buckets of retrieved items, mostly leaves and scrolls, to fit together. They used their original condition-survey images from 1999, and historical records, to restore the gates as closely as possible to the state they were in when originally installed in Holland Park.
The restoration work involved completely stripping the paint, then carefully removing all the leaves so that the framework could be thoroughly cleaned and made rust free, before assessing the work needed to make the frame sound. Any heavily corroded or missing scrollwork was restored or replaced using genuine wrought iron, hammer and anvil. The leaves were individually assessed and repaired when possible. Missing leaves were replaced in copper, using traditional skills. After final reassembly the gates were painted and then gilded using 780 sheets of 23½ carat gold.
The gates were delivered back to the park and fitted in place on 14 July, with the people from Topp & Co. who re-installed the gates, looking justifiably proud of their work. Our iconic gates look very elegant: the gold gleams and the full intricate design is once again on show. Being practical, the Parks Police were able to satisfy themselves that the old keys still work.
Now the surrounding brickwork will receive some much needed repair work, so that the entire entrance will look elegant by the time the Design Museum opens in November this year.
Jennie Kettlewell and Rhoddy Wood
Photos by Joy Puritz and Jennie Kettlewell
At last the museum has its opening date fixed: Thursday, 24 November 2016. The museum shop will open in July 2016 and will be on the ground floor of the restored building. We shall enjoy having such a stylish neighbour, though we do hope that visitor enthusiasm does not put undue pressure on the south of the park and its fragile grass.
Holland Park pavilions
After much effort by all parties, a proposal that met the needs of all stakeholders has not been found and the project has been closed. This is disappointing as Snell & Partners initially showed great ability for innovative solutions. We are now back to the drawing board to see if there is a way the white tents can be erected more quickly or if a simpler solution can be found.
Approach road to the Holland House terrace
The project, led by specialist architects Cameron Lonsdale, is still live and, by the time this newsletter is printed, your trustees will have seen proposed designs for Stage 1:
• Improving the look of the Holland House south terrace so it is an appealing place to sit and enjoy winter sunshine.
• Relocating the road that runs right through the middle of Holland Park Café up to the terrace. The intention is that it should run to the immediate east of the café but we shall keep a careful watch on whether that means significant trees would be removed.
• Improving the look of the café yard so that, when the café lease is finally put out to tender, it will be more appealing to a bidder, and generate more income for the park.
These plans will be shared during a six-week public consultation period, starting on 22 June 2016. After feedback has been considered, the plans will be subject to a planning application. More information about the consultation is shown in this newsletter.
Stage 2 is likely to include architect’s proposals for:
• The interior of the Holland Park café. Redesigning of the interior is much needed to reduce queues in summer and to minimise noise reverberation.
• Making the most of the space in the stable yard block e.g. possibly using the old Ecology Centre room for displays and information about Holland House and its families. Improving the toilet facilities and adding a dedicated toilet for disabled.
It is unlikely that Stage 2 will happen before 2017.
A further planning application by Safestay for branded signage has had consent refused by the Council following the objections received.
The scoping work has been completed but the planning application has been withdrawn. A new application will be lodged once technical adjustments have been made to the plan. The restaurant will now not close for a period from June 2016 as originally anticipated.
New fence for sports field
Recently a member reported that children were tunnelling their way through the native hedge and into the sports field because the fence was dilapidated and had gaps in it. Good news then that the fence is being replaced along the east flank of the sports field. The sturdy new posts will deter access other than via the gates, and also prevent damage being caused to the plants in the hedge.
Earls Court gates
The fine French 18th-century gates were removed on 6 January for their makeover by Topp & Co. in North Yorkshire. As ever, the work proved more extensive than expected, and we will not see the gates back in place until early July. At that stage the brickwork will receive some much needed repair work, so the entire entrance will look elegant before the Design Museum opens.
Belvedere Joins Friends & Neighbours
We are delighted that the Belvedere Restaurant in Holland Park has joined our Friends & Neighbours scheme, offering 10% off meals on presentation of a current FHP membership card.
Many of you already know the restaurant, and those who do not should. It has a stunning site overlooking the Iris Garden, is a distinguished listed building which was once the summer ballroom for Holland House and, last but not least, has a very tempting menu. Book a table on 020 7602 1238 or find out more on their website: www.belvedererestaurant.co.uk.
Romulo Café Joins Friends & Neighbours
We are pleased to announce that Romulo is offering our members a 10% discount (when no other promotional prices apply) at its new restaurant and café in Kensington High Street.
Filipino food is a mixture of four culinary traditions: Spanish, American, Malay and Chinese, and at Romulo Café there is an appetizing range of bar food, snacks, main courses to share, healthy salad options, vegetarian options, desserts and homemade ice cream. Romulo Cafés are well established in the Philippines, and they feature some of their most popular dishes for us to experience in London. The owner has transformed an elegant Georgian town house to echo the spirit of a comfortable Filipino home which comprises four discrete dining areas: the General’s Bar, the Ambassador’s Lounge, the Diplomat’s Dining Room, and a space for private dining.
Mention that you are a member of The Friends when you book, and remember to take your membership card with you.
Romulo Café London
343 Kensington High Street
London, W8 6NW
Tel. 020 3141 6390
Holland Park pavilions
Now that Robin Snell & Partners have been commissioned to explore options for the Holland Park pavilions on the Holland House site, the project is progressing apace. The team of architects is currently carrying out research so that they thoroughly understand the park and how it is used, before they produce any proposals. As yet, there is no set idea for a solution. Design proposals might be available in early summer and you will then be able to air your views at a public consultation before any amendments are made and the Council then applies for planning consent. In the meantime the white tents will be with us for the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
Approach road to the Holland House terrace
For many years The Friends have advocated moving the road that runs bang through the middle of the Holland Park café to a safer location. This is now on the Council’s agenda and, if the plan is agreed, work might commence after the 2016 opera season. Moving the road to the immediate east of the café would allow enhancement of the seating area to the south of it and present a more appealing prospect when the café lease is finally put out to tender.
Budget cuts and planting plans
It has been well publicised that Central Government has cut local government budget contributions, and our Council is, in turn, having to consider budget cuts to some services. The parks are not immune and we are in discussion with councillors and Park Management to develop innovative ideas for savings that do no long-term harm to the park. Together with Quadron we are exploring different types of planting in some of the borders, so that pretty and interesting shrubs take the place of plants that need a significant amount of care. Add deeply planted bulbs that come up reliably every year, and you not only save man-hours but you also have an attractive display. The Quadron team have some clever ideas, and we will keep you up to date on how this progresses.
Earls Court gates
The fine, French, 18th-century gates were removed on 6 January for their makeover by Topp & Co. in North Yorkshire. The restored gates are due back in April, and we hope to give you full details of the work carried out, together with photos, in our summer newsletter.
Plants in the park
The Quadron gardeners have been energetically tackling the borders. Plants have been cut back to show what is of value, what needs to be removed and what should be shifted to a more suitable location. The big old Wisteria on the Rose Garden arches has been expertly pruned to leave flowering branches in a form that will best show off the fall of mauve flowers in spring. When I found gardener, Mark Sinclair, pruning away, we discussed which way the Wisteria twines, as some curl clockwise and some anti. I think ours is Wisteria sinensis, which means it twines anti-clockwise. The damaging ivy has been cut off the listed Belvedere building, at least at a low level where it would eventually kill the plant. Snowdrops are out just south east of the Holland Pond, and the Arboretum is full of daffodils.
Text and photos: Jennie Kettlewell