Members of Nine Elms houseboat community Tideway Village are continuing a three year battle to save their homes after a property developer has failed to renew the access lease they need to board and exit their boats.
Development company St James -which is halfway through construction of the Riverlight project that will comprise six waterfront skyscrapers containing 806 apartments- own the concrete wall that the 24 houseboat residents need to cross every time they step off their boats onto the public footpath. St James failed to renew the access license that expired on January 20 this year, said David Waterhouse, who set up the village of three converted houseboats and the Battersea Barge twelve years ago.
“Technically we are now trespassing, which is a problem because in the future they can use that trespass law against us, which is what we’re afraid of,” Mr Waterhouse said.
A spokesperson from St James confirmed that the company renewed the license for one of the boats on 21 March and is currently in the process of renewing a licence for the two other boats. However, the community remain fearful as St James plans –currently suspended by Thames Water- propose knocking down Tideway Village’s pier and building new moorings nearby, which would cost tenants £350,000 per boat in addition to mooring rates paid to the Port of London Authority.
Despite support from Mayor Boris Johnson and almost 2000 signatures on a petition to save the village Wandsworth council have remained uninvolved, Mr Waterhouse said. “The council have been completely silent. They were given £35 million by St James to use towards infrastructure, which was one part of their planning consent, so they don’t want to get involved in this,” he said.
“We’re keen to stay where we are, this is a great community, we love being here and we believe we’re an asset to the area.”