Part of the River Thames has been returned to a more natural state, thanks to enforcement action by Richmond Council, removing unlawful piles and pontoons in Hampton.
For a number of years, the Council has been pursuing enforcement action regarding numerous planning breaches at Hampton Riviera Boatyard in Hampton.
The owner built a number of piles and pontoons out over the River Thames without Planning Permission and began marketing the site as a residential marina. Luxury floating residences were let with long term mooring rights and the site was landscaped with tropical plants and sun-decks over the river.
The Council served a number of enforcement notices, requiring the owner to remove the unauthorised works. The owner appealed and lost. He still failed to remove the piles and pontoons. Therefore, the Council elected to take action. And, together with the Met Police, River Police, the Environment Agency and a team of marine engineers, including dive specialists, removed the unauthorised piles and pontoons.
The owners of the land and affected boats were given notice that enforcement action was to commence and any boats not removed would be towed away.
Despite a last-ditch attempt from the owner to stop the enforcement, Kingston County Court dismissed his appeal and from 30th July work began to remove the structures.
The team forcibly removed and towed pontoons away from site. The piles, which were driven into the river-bed were then cut off at bed-level by the underwater dive team and hoisted from the river. Electrical and water services which fed the pontoons were disconnected and removed.
The work is now complete and has resulted in this part of the river being reopened and the natural riverbank reinstated.
The Council will now charge the cost of the works back to the owner of the land. Further enforcement action is now being considered in relation to the use of the site.
Cllr Martin Elengorn, Richmond Council Cabinet Member for Environment, said:
“This has been a long process. Over the years we have heard from many residents that they were unhappy with these illegal development works. Not only did they block the river, cut off the riverbank, but they also caused serious damage to the natural environment.
“Rules are there for a reason. The river is not an extension to anyone’s property. The owner knew he was breaking the law. He was given the opportunity to remove the offending structures himself. He chose not to.
“I would like to thank those partner organisations who worked with us to restore our river for everyone to enjoy.”