Thames riverboat residents living on borrowed time


Tideway Village residents are fighting to stay at their moorings and resisting being moved downstream by a large development company.


By Katriona Ormiston

Tideway Village residents are fighting to stay at their moorings and resisting being ushered downstream by a large development company.

Last year Tideway Village’s 25-strong community heard the surrounding Battersea power station estate was sold to St James – specialists in riverside developments.

Residents soon discovered plans to replace their houseboats with a floating garden to complement the 16,000 new homes to be built.  

Following a campaign in October 2010, planning permission was given to the development on condition that the houseboats could stay.

Plans are now to move them to Nine Elms Pier, a neighbouring houseboat community of roughly 80 residents.

Residents are concerned for their tight-knit community and the possibility of rent rises.

Tideway Village resident, Madeleine Jones, said: “We are a thriving community full of fascinating individuals ranging from dancers and actors to social workers and movie crews.

“Our frustrations as tenants remain as we have a complete lack of rights, less even than tenants who live on land.

“We are permanently moored, and are all working professionals, so the “river rat” image has long since died.”

Chairman of St. James, Sean Ellis, said: “We have a planning application in at the moment to demolish the Nine Elms pier and replace it with more traditional style pontoon moorings.

 “It is a good thing to have residential moorings on the river so we are trying to protect those that are there and enhance them by providing more.”

Some of these additional moorings would be used by Tideway Village residents.

Mr Ellis added: “We will also make them better quality because at the moment you have to go up the gantry onto the pier and then at low tide down a ladder onto the boats.

“In the redeveloped solution which we have put in planning application for, you would get level access because it would all be on gantry.”

St. James and Wandsworth Council planning service are in agreement that they would like more moorings but also want to open up views of the river from either end of St James’ development site.

If planning permission is granted, the houseboats will likely be moved away while the new Nine Elms Pier is redeveloped. 

When questioned where to, Mr Ellis says possibilities are all along the Thames within reasonable distance. 

“There are a couple of options; some closer, some further away,” he said.

Tideway Village resident, Daniel Barnard, said his neighbour’s boat was moved from its Chelsea moorings because of a housing development. This is now its second campaign to stay.

Mr Ellis said: “We see the riverboat community as our neighbours.

“They are part of what makes that place and we want to try and work with them to try and ensure it remains part of the future of the community we are going to create.” 

The planning application is due to be determined later this year.

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