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Campaigners say one of the last working boatyards on the Thames in London is under threat.

Southwark Council plan to build two tower blocks of 213 flats plus offices at St George’s Wharf, Rotherhithe, on a site presently occupied by a boatyard at South Dock Marina.

Alasdair Flint, who lives nearby and is also a boat owner, said: “The boat yard is not only a hive of boating activity which supports many jobs but it is also a welcome relief from the monotony of riverside flats to those who enjoy walking along the Thames Path. The proposed tower blocks will destroy Southwark’s last remaining links to a long maritime history.”

The council says it will examine ways to retain a boatyard on the site.

Campaigners say the plans are being drawn up in secret. They say neither the boat owners at the council-owned marina nor residents in neighbouring blocks of flats were informed of a consultation meeting earlier this summer.

Mr Flint said: “We only heard about the meeting by accident afterwards. It has been very difficult to find out what is being planned.

“The boatyard is used by both leisure boaters and commercial operators and it would be a great loss to the Thames. Although a small boatyard is shown on the plans for the development it appears to be so small that it wouldn’t be viable and it would be so close to new residential flats that it would be very difficult to operate.

“If the boatyard were to close the nearest working yard for many vessels would be on the Medway as travelling upstream under London’s bridges is just not option for boats with high masts.

“Instead of drawing up plans behind closed doors we are calling on Southwark Council to come clean and explain the development publicly and listen to our concerns.”


Councillor Mark Williams, cabinet member for regeneration and new homes, said:  “There is a housing crisis in London, and in Southwark we are doing all we can to tackle this problem head on by working with developers and housing associations, and by building new council homes ourselves.

“This includes making better use of land around the borough. South Dock Marina is one area where we are looking at developing.

“ I would like to reassure residents that the plans under consideration will retain a boatyard at South Dock Marina. 

“We are looking at how we can develop the site and also improve the boatyard and the services it offers, including improving opportunities for employment in associated trades. We will continue to consult locally on proposals for the site before bringing forward any planning application.”

South Dock built in 1811 is one of two surviving docks in the former Surrey Commercial Docks and was once used for the handling of timber and grain. Plans for a hotel on the site were turned down by the council several years ago.

Link to South Dock residents' and boat owners' Facebook page

Story dated Sept 4th 2015