South Dock Boat Yard
South Dock Boat Yard

2nd September 2015

It seems that something fishy is going on. It looks like it will threaten the operation of the Boat Yard at South Dock Marina. Southwark Council held a “consultation” meeting at Canada Water Library at the end of July. The problem was that they omitted to tell us about the “consultation” meeting. They tried to disguise the project by renaming South Dock Boat Yard  as “St Georges Wharf.” I’ve lived and worked in this area for 40 years and I had never heard of St Georges Wharf. If you Google it you will find it is about 8 miles up river. So it was to my great surprise when a neighbour in a block of flats over the road sent me some photos of the display boards which he had obtained from another neighbour who had stumbled upon the secret meeting!

When I queried the Council about why I wasn’t notified (as a boat owner who had a mooring in the dock and a resident within 50 m of the proposal) I was told it was an accident, very sorry and all that. The thing was the email was identical to the one received by all the other people who complained about not being notified. As far as I am aware no attempt was made to notify all the boat owners nor any attempt to notify all the local residents or the commercial users. The meeting must have been attended by friends of the developers.

I was assured by the council that everything will be on their website by 31st August but of course there is nothing there. So as you can see they have got my heckles up by trying to railroad a development through in contradiction to Southwark’s website which says it is committed to consultation before planning developments. Their timeline shows work starting in a few months.

From what we can gleam from the photos taken at the meeting, the council are proposing to build 230 flats with 20 parking places in the area currently used as a boat yard. The flats will be in the tallest towers ever built along the southbank of the river between here and central London at 15 and 20 stories high. They are also proposing a three floor office block. The area remaining for Boat Yard usage will be very small and shady with flats looming over it. As everyone with a boat knows, boat work is noisy and dusty. I simply can’t imagine flat owners putting up with a needle de-scaler operating just below their balcony. Nor will they appreciate the antifouling dust settling on their baby’s pram. No access seems to have been allowed for, so once the new residents have closed down the yard on health and safety issues they can use it as a car park which will be handy because the developers have omitted to provide any space for parking in their keenness to squeeze as many flats into the area as possible. Nor have they provided any access to one of the blocks – unless the token Boat Yard is also an access route.

South Dock Boat Yard is the last working yard on the Thames and is important to both commercial and leisure boat users. Without it there will be nowhere to maintain boats and carry out emergency repairs. It affects all the users of the Thames not just those with boats in South Dock. It seems that Southwark Council do not appreciate their fantastic maritime heritage. Nearby Greenland Dock was London’s first dock. Why not develop South Dock Boat Yard as a working boat yard? It would provide decent interesting jobs for the local residents and would be an oasis on the river front which is already dominated by residential developments. This proposed development needs very careful watching – the Council are being devious.

There is a Facebook site set up to help you keep in touch with developments

www.facebook.com/SouthDockandSurrounding

or you can write directly to Paul Glockling, Head of Regeneration at paul.glockling@southwark.gov.uk

4 Responses

  1. That’s sad but not unexpected given the housing disaster in London.

    What’s the short-fall – something like housing for half a million people? That would need 2 forty storey buildings to be finished every week for the next five years. The government should be pro-active and auction (after compulsory purchase and change of use) a small amount of green belt between Tilbury and the rest of London (where there is access to HS1 and cross rail 1) to allow high density development to ease the pressure on every other location.

    Otherwise we’ll continue to see the squeezing out so many of the interesting aspects of the city like the arts, music and niche shops, and this sound like another example.

    And, yes, to me St. George’s Wharf is no where near South Dock, which is always known as “South Dock”

  2. Hi John,

    I agree that London needs more housing and Southwark needs more affordable housing in particular. The problem is people also need jobs and if Southwark continues to allow change of use from industrial to housing there will be no jobs left. A couple of years ago I had to shift 35 jobs out of the borough because there are no suitable industrial premises left. The industrial building next to my last remaining warehouse in the borough is being converted into luxury flats and the warehouse on the other side has just been sold no doubt for the seem fate. The majority of the proposed flats to be built on top of South Dock Boat Yard will not be classed as “affordable” and will probably be offered to Far Eastern speculators as buy to let investments. Where will the circa 600 people go to work if there is no where in Southwark apart from housing developments. A balance is needed, decent affordable homes for the local people plus decent local jobs. I don’t think this South Dock Boat Yard proposal is balanced in any way.

    Best regards,

    Alasdair

  3. I absolutely agree – that’s why I think something has to be done elsewhere, and that could require some greenbelt to be lost. The scale of the problem and pressures are so large that unless additional land is made available, existing sites (such as south dock) will be under greater pressure to change use into housing, resulting in all sorts of types of businesses from arts to boating being lost.

  4. what about the boat yard this will be made alot smaller people will lose jobs and boat owners will have to go else where its a fact

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