South Dock Marina Berths Now 100% Residential

26th January 2023

Sumara visiting South Dock June 2010

Yesterday I attended a Southwark Council Planning meeting so that I could make use of a three minute slot to voice my objection to the following proposal:

Town And Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015 (as Amended)
Our Reference: 22/AP/3036
Site address: South Dock Marina Rope Street London Southwark SE16 1TX
Proposal: Variation of Condition 12 pursuant to planning permission LDDC S/96/0021 for ‘Variation of condition 12 of LDDC S/88/248 to permit 65% of berths to be used as permanent residencies’. The amendment seeks the following: removal of Condition 12 to permit 100% residential use of vessels in the marina.

I wasn’t really objecting to anyone wanting to change their licence from Leisure to Residential but I was objecting to the implication that there will no longer be any visitor berths. I believe that unless “Visitor Berths” are protected then the whole maritime leisure industry is under threat.

I can remember sailing up to London in November on a bleak cold and windy day. I needed to get some diesel before heading up the Thames so I thought that I would call in at Chatham. I radioed them up to ask for a berth for the night and they said that they were full and had no room for a 26 foot long yacht! I couldn’t believe it. Basically they had rented out every single berth on an annual basis and had no allocated visitor berths.

Limehouse Marina have now decided not to admit visiting vessels. So as the situation is getting rather dire, I decided I should address the Council.

You can find a video of the meeting here but my three minute talk was as follows:

“I’m Alasdair Flint. I live next to the marina and have used the marina, and its boatyard many times as a visiting yachtsman.

I’m concerned that the proposed amendment to permit 100% residential use of vessels in the marina will be interpreted as allowing 100% of the berths being allowed for residential use.

Should the currently designated visitor’s jetty be converted for residential use then I believe that would contravene Policy 7.27 of the Blue Ribbon Network, I quote:

Proposals that result in the loss of existing facilities for waterborne sport and leisure should be refused, unless suitable replacement facilities are provided”.

I note that the PLA were consulted regarding the proposal. They expressed their concern by saying:

“However to note as part of the PLA’s Thames Vision there is also a demand for other types of moorings including visitor moorings, and it is recommended that the applicant considers the encouragement of other types of moorings in addition to residential as part of these proposals.”

The PLA and Reeds Nautical Almanac currently list South Dock as having visitor moorings.

The Marina’s own website clearly shows a Visitor’s Jetty

Here is the Marina Plan taken from the Marina Website on 25th January 2023.
It clearly shows the Visitor’s Jetty in the top right corner

But your Planning Document says:

“In relation to visitors, there are currently no allocated visitor berths as the marina is 100% full. However, visitors can be accommodated in berths when license holders are out on their boats.”

If I were planning a sailing trip to London on the strongly tidal river, I would need assurance that there would be a vacant berth available on my arrival rather than just hope that a residential berth holder has decided to vacate their berth.

As Limehouse Marina no longer take visiting boats it would leave just a few berths in St Katharine Docks to serve a capital city which was once the largest port in the world.

Furthermore, if a boat has a mechanical breakdown in the tideway, I am sure the PLA, River Police or the RNLI would appreciate a safe haven to discharge their tow.

If the interpretation of the amendment results in the 100% of the marina berths having residential status, then visiting London via one of the world’s great rivers would become virtually impossible.

I therefore suggest the pontoon currently designated as a “Visitors Jetty” is exempted from the new plan and remains available for short-term visiting boats.

Thank you for your time”.

Sadly I lost the case and the proposal was passed. I did manage to have a chat with the affable Harbour Master and he did assure me that the Marina is keen to improve the experience for visiting boats. That is good news, but without a dedicated “Visitor’s Pontoon” he will be relying on berth holders vacating their berths on an ad hoc basis.

It is probable that a berth would be found for a lone vessel arriving on spec but it is unlikely that a Yacht Club would be able to advance book a pontoon for a small group to visit London in their boats. Even if space is found, they would be scattered around the Marina.

It does seem a shame that despite the Blue Ribbon Plan specifically objecting to the removal of leisure facilities on the Thames (Clause 7.27) that this proposal, which effectively closes South Dock as an option for those wishing to visit London by boat, has been passed unanimously by Southwark Council.

You can find out a lot more about our fight to save the boat yard at South Dock by putting “South Dock” into the search bar on this website.

2 responses to “South Dock Marina Berths Now 100% Residential”

  1. Alasdair,

    When will you be in Oban next week, and where and what in? I have just come back from shopping there.
    It would be good to meet, especially as I have to collect a picture from Waltons of the boat in icebergs (west coast of Greenland)!

    Not sure this message ever got to you, and it may be too late now. It would have been good to meet up

    Sent from Mail for Windows

    1. Oh, that’s a shame. I’ve just picked up on this and I am back in London. It ended up being a flying visit. I just needed to re-fix and rudder hanging and it was one of those jobs that would either go well and take a few hours or go badly and take all week. Luckily it went well and as the weather was so grim we departed to Moffat for the night before continuing to London. Another time. I’ll shout when I am next up! Be great to meet.

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