On 22 November I submitted comments, set out below, on behalf of the Friends on the application by Watermans Riverside Limited to the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) for a license to construct moorings at Watermans Park.
Planning consent in 2016 gave permission for the moorings to be constructed. Our principal concern is to ensure as far as possible that the demolition and construction works in the river are carried out safely to protect construction workers, users of the river both up- and downstream and the marine environment. This is particularly relevant given the site’s previous use as a gas works and it is known there are contaminants on site with elevated levels of lead and asbestos in the riverbank and park as set out in the 2016 planning documentation. The Friends consider that the documents submitted by the applicant to the MMO do not fully address these concerns. Our representation seeks to ensure that relevant conditions, studies and investigations set out in the planning consent 00607/AM/P5 dated 19 May 2016 as updated by 00607/AM/P7 dated 1 October 2021 have been satisfied and taken account of in the application before the MMO grants a licence.
The representation was also copied to the applicant, the Environment Agency, the Planning Authority and the Council. The MMO have acknowledged receipt and will contact me once it has further information from their consultees/the applicant to answer our concerns.
Chair, Friends of Watermans Park
8 December 2021
Marine Licence Application: MLA/2021/00267 at Watermans Park
Friends of Watermans Park – response to consultation
22 November 2021
The Friends of Watermans Park's principal purpose is to help protect, conserve and enhance Watermans Park, its environs and access to the River Thames for the enjoyment of local residents and visitors. It is in this context that the Friends are submitting comments on the documents submitted to the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) to support an application by Watermans Riverside Limited for a licence to construct moorings at Watermans Park.
Our principal concern is to ensure as far as possible that the demolition and construction works are carried out safely to protect construction workers, users of the river both up- and downstream and the marine environment. This is particularly relevant given the site’s previous use as a gas works and it is known there are contaminants on site with elevated levels of lead and asbestos in the riverbank and park as set out in the 2016 planning documentation. The Friends consider that the documents submitted to the MMO do not fully address these concerns, as we explain below, and that a licence should not be granted until further supporting documentation and evidence is obtained by the MMO including evidence that relevant conditions, studies and investigations set out in the planning consent 00607/AM/P5 dated 19 May 2016 as updated by 00607/AM/P7 dated 1 October 2021 have been satisfied and taken account of in the application.
Planning permission was granted on 19 May 2016 00607/AM/P5 for the creation of 26 permanent moorings with a new 14 space car park and associated landscaping in the park and work commenced in May 2019. The planning permission was updated on 1 October 2021 00607/AM/P7 to allow for changes to the design of the approved park landscaping, including repairing and retaining a wooden walkway which was to have been removed under the 2016 consent and the area taken over by a reed bed.
There are certain conditions of the 2021 planning permission (unchanged from the 2016 consent although re-numbered) that are particularly relevant to the construction of the moorings.
Our comments on MLA/2021/00267 are as follows:
The programme of works set out in the application does not specify that certain planning consent conditions must be satisfied before demolition or construction works can take place. These include:
- An Archaelogical Scheme of Written Investigation (SWI) (2021 Planning Consent Condition 8)
- An approved Construction Method Statement (2021 Planning Consent Condition 15)
- A Contaminated Land Study (2021 Planning Consent Condition 20)
- A River Wall Survey (2021 Planning Consent Condition 24)
- Water Framework Directive Assessment (2021 Planning Consent Conditions 25 & 26)
We appreciate the application includes a Water Framework Directive Assessment, which we leave to the Environment Agency and others with specialist knowledge to comment on, and an updated Construction Method Statement. With respect to Conditions 8 and 20 documents have been filed with the Planning Authority that acknowledge the requirement for certain relevant investigations and studies to be undertaken but they have not yet been carried out to our knowledge. No documents relating to Conditions 24, 25 and 26 are currently available on the planning website.
A SWI submitted to satisfy part of Condition 8 in 2019 sets out the methodology for an assessment and subsequent analysis, publication and dissemination and deposition of resulting material but to our knowledge this has not yet taken place. No demolition or construction work can take place other than in accordance with the SWI.
With respect to Condition 20 a Phase II Generic Human Health Risk Assessment dated July 2014 was submitted to the Planning Authority in 2019 to satisfy this condition. The Assessment states, among other recommendations, that it will be necessary to further investigate the extent of potentially hazardous asbestos contamination in the soils forming the river bank and river bed silts. To our knowledge such investigations have yet to be carried out. Further, it is now more than 7 years since actual sampling took place to support the 2016 planning application and in the Friend’s view sampling should be refreshed.
The results of such studies, investigations and surveys noted above should inform how the demolition and construction work is conducted but the application, including the updated Construction Method Statement, is silent on these points.
The application refers to a small amount of site clearance mainly consisting of old rubber tyres. However, there are in fact concrete and timber posts to be removed as well as debris on the river bed and the application is silent on how they are to be removed safely. Photographs of the site on 21 November 2021 have been included in an Annex to this letter.
Please note that a consequence of the wooden walkway being repaired and retained is that the planned reed bed will no longer be constructed and installed as originally required by the 2016 planning permission (although Condition 22 of the 2021 permission notice has been retained in error and we understand the Planning Authority is to correct this). Documents relating to the reed bed in MLA/2021/00267 are therefore no longer relevant.
We note that the application is for the whole site. At this stage only Phase I for 14 moorings will be constructed from the east of the park westwards up to a concrete slipway. We understand the Port of London Authority does not have vacant possession for Phase II of the moorings development and has not yet assigned that section to the applicant. There are sunken vessels in the area covered by Phase II, including the vessel Lis, that are not referred to in the application. It would seem appropriate only to consider granting a licence for Phase I of the development at this stage.
We make no comments on the dates and timescales set out in the application, some of which have already past.
Notwithstanding the results of the Archaelogical Scheme of Written Investigation (SWI) and subsequent assessment it has been agreed, as set out in the planning officer’s delegated report accompanying the 2021 decision notice, that certain visible heritage assets (cast iron caps on timber posts in the river with the motif GLCC BD 1930) will be retained for display in the park. It would be helpful that a condition of any licence for works in the river also recognises the requirement to save these and other heritage assets as appropriate.
We appreciate that responses to the consultation will, of course, be shared with the applicant by the MMO. Our response will also be sent to the Port of London Authority, Environment Agency, Planning Authority and officers at the London Borough of Hounslow who may be aware of relevant documents that are not publicly available.
Chair, Friends of Watermans Park
Matthew Parratt, Thames River Moorings
George Lloyd, Environment Agency
Ben Fanning, Port of London Authority
Leo Hall, Local Planning Authority
Mike Sudlow, London Borough of Hounslow
Watermans Park – Phase I moorings area – 21 November 2021