South Dock Marina Boatyard – a disaster about to happen

Massive development on top of South Dock Marina Boat Yard
Massive development on top of South Dock Marina Boat Yard

7th February 2016
I didn’t attend the latest “consultation” about the plans to build two tower blocks on top of the South Dock Marina Boat Yard. Southwark Council still don’t appear to have my name on their mailing list. Actually they only seem to have three of the houses in Dockmaster’s Quay out of about eighteen so they aren’t making much effort. During the last “consultation” I was told by Bruce Glockling that they are proceeding with their plans no matter what we think so I couldn’t see the point of wasting a day at this latest farce. Good job too as apparently they have decided to make these grossly over-scaled tower blocks even higher! Apparently they realised there weren’t enough parking spaces so they had to increase the area devoted to parking and then had to slap on a few more floors of flats to help pay for it.
Here is an interesting game to play. Choose your favourite property search program. If you haven’t got one then try Rightmove or Zoopla. Now enter “South East London” as your search area and restrict the search to “Flats/Apartments”. You will find about 5,500 available to buy and about 4,750 available to rent. It is a well-recognised fact that the market is now swamped with new build flats. That is before Greenwich Peninsular, Convoys Wharf, Canada Water come on stream and not mentioning the Vauxhall/Battersea developments to the west. The Far Eastern investors are already pulling out and apparently defaulting on their deposits. The Property Developers are getting scared. The lovely new tower blocks springing up everywhere are dark at night because no one actually lives in them. They were built as money generating farms and sold to naïve foreign investors. No Londoner in their right mind would buy one of these new tower block flats. A property crash is just waiting to happen. It’s not rocket science.
Now try part two of the game. Change the settings on your property search site to “commercial property” and filter to “Warehouse/Light Industrial”. Click the button for “South East London” and you will find two available to buy. One is an up and over garage for £9k. I have been through this situation when I needed to expand my company. In the end I had to move the company out of Southwark (with 40 employees) because all the industrial property has been converted or demolished to build new flats that no one wants. So now we have established that it is impossible to buy an industrial property in the area, why not try renting? Ah, that’s better there are 30 warehouse light industrial available in the whole of South East London. Maybe I can rent an industrial building for my company to expand and remain in South East London. Let’s see how many buildings between 7,500 and 25,000 square feet are available. Oh dear, just one in Spa Road. In the whole of South East London there is just one decent sized warehouse/industrial building available to rent! It looks like we may have to move out of London entirely when our lease comes up. It would be a shame for all our employees who live here.
I’m not saying there isn’t a need for housing in Southwark but someone needs to shout out for jobs too. Southwark needs housing for the local people, not another tower block of flats costing a fortune which will probably remain empty as buy to lets. Southwark needs proper council housing and affordable homes but it also needs decent jobs. We can’t just rely on Canary Wharf to keep us afloat. We all know what happens during financial crashes. The South Dock Boatyard should be developed to provide more decent real jobs not fewer. Southwark has precious little industrial land available. Let’s save what little is left. The constant granting of planning consent to convert industrial land to flats will cause a massive problem in the future.

5 responses to “South Dock Marina Boatyard – a disaster about to happen”

  1. It does sound pretty awful and a rapid downward property price correction would indeed be a good idea – see this today:

    With London’s population continuing to increase, I’m not sure that supply exceeds demand yet, which means more building. I’d rather a couple of square km of green belt was lost than all this aggregate assault on brown field sites, which as you say, are used for those businesses required as part of a balanced city.

    1. Hi John,
      I think boatyards are at more risk of disappearing than most industries. Inevitably they occupy sites by the sea or river edge which can fetch a huge value if councils grant planning permission for change of use to housing. The beautiful Combes boat yard in Bosham that I used to use was converted to housing after the neighbours complained about the noise. There must be many more that have suffered the same fate. Boat builders have fantastic creative and rewarding jobs but they aren’t known for being wealthy. The only way to preserve their way of life is for councils to refuse any change of use no matter what the financial pressure is. I always thought that South Dock Boat Yard was too important for the safe functioning of the tidal Thames for it to be built on but alas Southwark Council think otherwise.
      Regards, Alasdair

  2. Have you raised this with the PLA? The loss of a major boatyard seems inconsistent with their Thames Vision:

  3. I have raised in with the PLA but haven’t heard back. There is a new parliamentary all party committee on the Thames which I’ll try to contact too.

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