Unauthorised moorings

Unauthorised moorings in the borough

Read our latest statement on how we are tackling unauthorised moorings in Elmbridge.

Current information on unauthorised moorings

21 January 2022:  Boater fined for illegal moorings. The owner of 2 boats has been fined £800 and ordered to pay costs of almost £21,000 for obstructing a busy part of the River Thames. Alistair Trotman broke safety byelaws when mooring the barges he rented out as accommodation at one of the busiest sections of the river, at Molesey Lock in Surrey.

Desborough Island 

The Environment Agency is the owner of the riverbank along the Desborough Cut. It is aware that a number of vessels are now moored here without its consent and will take appropriate action against the owners when it can, given continuing restrictions on its operational activities due to coronavirus, and other priorities.

Confluence of Rivers Mole and Ember (updated 1 February 2022)

The Environment Agency has removed the abandoned / sunken boats from the Mole / Ember channel whiich have been obstructing navigation. This removal programme will continue for the next few weeks.

There are also a small number of vessels moored to land it owns without their consent, and these will be subject to enforcement action if they remain once the sunken vessels have been removed.

Cigarette Island/Albany Reach/Ditton Reach (updated 18 June 2021)

There are currently a group of boats moored without consent on the edge of Cigarette Island (opposite Hampton Court Palace), and a further larger “floating home” moored alongside Cigarette Island, round the corner closer to Hampton Court Station.

Our mooring enforcement contractor, District Enforcement, have visited the site but are unable to action at this time as these are not named/registered boats. The Environment Agency are similarly inspecting the ‘boats’ to investigate if there are any other registrations offences.

In the meantime, the council has started possession proceedings to recover possession of the land. The owners will be issued with a formal notice to advise that the occupants are trespassing on council-owned land and to give them 10-14 days to leave before legal action is taken and to check if there are any welfare issues that the council needs to be aware of.

At the same time District Enforcement will maintain a regular presence and reinforce the message that these boats are trespassing and mooring without consent.

Hampton Court Bridge (updated 11 May 2022) 

Surrey County Council own, and manage the East and West landings (either side of the bridge) at Hampton Court Bridge, Molesey. 

These two small sections of mooring are subject to flooding and deemed unviable for individual licences to boat owners. Surrey’s strategy is to licence business use only at this location and boat owners moored along here have been contacted following meetings with the registering authority (Environment Agency), and new signage was erected over a year ago. Most boats have now gone leaving those that are suspected to be abandoned or where owners are refusing to cooperate. Working with agency partners and our legal team, the process of prosecuting errant owners and/or removing vessels is well under way. 

Hurst Park (update 12 October 2021)

The owner of a pair of 25-metre houseboats obstructing a busy part of the River Thames in Surrey has been convicted of breaking river laws.                                                                                                                       

All vessels currently moored at this location are overstaying and are subject to enforcement action by the Environment Agency. 

Following complaints received by members of the public, Surrey Fire and Rescue Service undertook fire safety inspections of 4 vessels moored on the Thames within Elmbridge Borough Council. 

As a result of these inspections, conducted under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, enforcement and prohibition notices were served on the owner of all 4 vessels. The enforcement notice set out nine actions which the owner would need to undertake in order to comply with the requirements of the Fire Safety Order and a 16-week period to achieve this compliance. 

The owner subsequently appealed the notice to Guildford Magistrates Court which was dismissed by District Judge Wattam on Thursday 28 November 2019. The later appeal to the Crown Court was also dismissed after a two-day hearing in November 2020. A further application for a judicial review appeal was also dismissed, enforcement action is ongoing by SFRS.

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service are currently working with partner agencies and the owner of the vessels to achieve a satisfactory and safe solution. See Surrey County Council news.

Cherry Orchard Gardens (updated August 2022)

The council is aware of the issues at this stretch of the Thames in Molesey and is working with partners to secure a long-term solution to this area:    

Planning permission was refused on 18 December 2020 for the retrospective mooring of the boats for recreational/residential uses at Cherry Orchard Gardens, Molesey. 

The applicants appealed the refusal of these decisions and they were heard at an informal planning hearing on 15 March 2022. The Planning Inspectorate issued the appeal decision on 26 April 2022 and confirmed that they agreed with the Council’s decision on 4 out of the 5 boat moorings and the appeals were dismissed, meaning planning permission is refused. Read the full decision.

The Inspector concluded with regards to the mooring for Skylark/MsDeHoop that while it was contrary to planning policy, the bests interest of the child living on board the boat must be taken into account. In this case the appeal was allowed, and planning permission is granted for a temporary period of two years to allow time to seek alternative accommodation to protect the welfare of the child living on the boat. 

Elmbridge Borough Council as the Local Planning Authority, will be seeking compliance with the original enforcement notices to secure the removal of the houseboats and moorings. 

The Environment Agency recently withdrew an application for first registration of riverbank (including towpath) in this location. It continues to assert that it already owns the land in question and is actively working to resolve the issue of land registration. Meanwhile it is  keeping all options under regular review in relation to the moored boats. The Environment Agency’s aim is for boats to be moored to its land in accordance with any applicable terms and conditions which may need to apply to prevent overstaying, or to be moored with its knowledge and consent e.g. during strong stream conditions. It routinely takes enforcement action against vessels moored where its consent is required but not given to ensure overstaying boats are moved by their owners/masters.

Three of the appellants have lodged Judicial Reviews against the refusal of planning permission. The case will be considered at a court hearing on a date which is yet to be confirmed. The Council is awaiting the outcome of the Judicial Review process before proceeding with the compliance of the original enforcement notices to secure the removal of the houseboats and moorings. 

Walton Towpath (near Xcel Leisure Complex)

House boat owner given criminal conviction and £5,000 costs after failing to remove boat from public moorings following warnings.

More information on tackling unauthorised moorings in Elmbridge.

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