Petersham Nurseries under threat

Petersham Nurseries, the famously bucolic restaurant in a garden centre on the edge of Richmond Park, has appealed against a council order that would block evening opening.

The move is the culmination of an astonishing 18-year stand-off between the restaurant and Richmond Council involving protracted negotiations but no prospect of agreement. The venue has now launched a campaign to ‘Save Our Restaurant’ and protect its employees’ jobs, calling on supporters to sign a petition.

For some years, Petersham Nurseries has offered candle-lit evening meals on a pre-booked ‘Supper Club’ basis with what would seem to be the tacit agreement of the council. An “evening management plan” agreed with the council has involved measures to avoid disturbing neighbours, such as moving the car park and booking special hybrid taxi services. In 2022 the venue was even granted an extended licence to serve alcohol beyond 5pm – but not food.

According to its website, the main objection to evening opening in what is primarily a residential area is the “perceived noise and disturbance from staff, customers and vehicles“.

But, the restaurant says: “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 or other members of the public to Richmond Council.

Petersham Nurseries won national acclaim in the early 2000s for the gastronomic achievements of its founding chef, Skye Gyngell, in shabby-chic surroundings. Its culinary reputation has dipped since her departure, but that has done nothing to dim the popularity of the converted greenhouses described in the 2024 Harden’s guide as an “eccentric but wonderfully romantic setting for a meal“.

The restaurant has held a Green Michelin in recognition of its sustainable practices since 2021, and last year won Richmond Chamber of Commerce’s Best Business for Environmental Sustainability award.

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