Twickenham MP Vince Cable has spoken out about his concerns over Richmond Council’s plans to provide a permanent home for the Gloriana.
The Business Secretary visited Orleans House Gallery on Sunday, July 20, and came away with the view the scheme is not in the interests of Twickenham.
Dr Cable admitted the plans appear to have merit, but raised concerns over access routes.
He said: “It looks to be a good idea to have the old Royal Barge housed on a new dock in Twickenham, but the access road is too narrow and congested for visitors.
“This is a prestige project costing £1m in capital and potentially annual support.
“And it is at the expense of green space in one of the best-loved parts of the borough.”
The MP of 17 years had previously said he hoped the project could be organised in a way that avoided major negative impact at the Orleans Riverside location.
Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith feels the council must take their decision on the Queen’s Royal Barge based on the “wishes of the community”.
Mandie Adams McGuire, of the newly-formed Friends of Orleans Riverside, called for cross-party support in condemning the council’s plans.
She said: “Obviously we are delighted Dr Cable has come out condemning the proposed boathouse because it is obviously in a very impractical area.
“We stand by the fact we are non-political and hope the other parties will come out against the proposals.
“People feel the consultation is very misleading and is designed to confuse people.”
She added a possible referendum, similar to the one organised in 2009 over controversial plans to develop Twickenham Riverside, is something to be discussed.
The council’s consultation ends at the end of August, when Lord True and his colleagues will consider responses.
Councillor Pamela Fleming, council cabinet member for environment, said the majority of people in Twickenham “would love to see the Gloriana”.
She said: “It is a minority of people voicing their opposition to the proposals, we respect their views and do want to work with them.
“The consultation is an opportunity for people to have their say so we can go back to the architects and say ‘People like this but don’t like x, y and z’.
“There might be questions like ‘How can it not be so high?’, but all these are part of a detailed planning application.
“We have a good record of listening – we listened over Heatham House.”
The South Richmond councillor has been subject to questioning over exactly when she knew of Lord True’s plans for the boat.
She said: “I have said before that I knew that we wanted to bring the Gloriana to Twickenham.
“I knew the leader was very keen to bring Gloriana to the borough quite a few months ago, but I didn’t know the details or specific sites being looked at.
“It was mentioned in the context of the river park before the election and it is not true that we kept it back.”
A petition opposing the Gloriana boathouse development has gathered more than 1,250 signatures.