Kensington & ChelseaNews

Three ‘oversized’ houseboats must leave Chelsea Reach harbour

By Adrian Zorzut, Local Democracy Reporter

An eviction notice has been issued to three so-called ‘megaboats’ in Chelsea Reach harbour.

Kensington and Chelsea councillors voted unanimously to throw out the one, two and three-bedroomed homes, overruling their own officers who claimed there were no grounds for eviction.

Instructing council officers at a planning committee meeting on Tuesday, chairman James Husband said the boats blocked views of the River Thames along Cheyne Walk and should be removed.

He also said the megaboats, as they’ve been dubbed in council reports, gave a “sense of enclosure” for neighbouring houseboats and would change the outlook of the river.

The public gallery erupted in fury when one council officer said the houseboats may be given up to nine months to leave.

The meeting became heated when a representative for the luxury boats spoke. The crowd interrupted and tutted when the Savills planning director said his client had attempted to address residents’ concerns.

He also said his client would appeal the decision, adding: “Serving enforcement notices on these three houseboats on grounds that are still unclear even after officers have conducted a thorough investigation since at least June last year, would constitute a great waste of time and resources.

“It would be an odd state of affairs if enforcement officers could serve notice against the three boats against their own recommendations.”

But the committee wasn’t buying it, telling the representative the moorings had “intensified” material changes to the area. One councillor said failure to enforce against the megaboat owners would damage the council’s reputation and dent public confidence in them.

A spokesman for the Chelsea Yacht and Boat Company, said: “The RBKC council leader, planning team and expert legal advisors have all confirmed that no planning breach has occurred with the three vessels involved in this dispute.

“The three vessels involved not only adhere to the highest safety standards, which is vital on a fast-flowing tidal river, but are the only boats to comply fully with RBKC’s own design guidelines.

“The community on the moorings has changed constantly over the decades, and has included boats of all sizes, some larger than those now on the moorings, some smaller.

“This decision, taken by a small group of councillors against the advice of RBKC’s own officers, leader and legal experts, puts taxpayer funds at serious risk because, as the council leader has warned, any enforcement action would leave the council open to challenge at appeal, including a cost challenge.

“We would question why this small group of councillors are proceeding with this dispute against the backdrop of wider financial pressures.”

Pictured top: A picture of the ‘apartment boats’ next to regular houseboats along Chelsea Reach harbour (Picture: LDRS)

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