Charity Addresses Challenges of Soaring Popularity of London’s Waterways

25 June 2018

Boating in London has soared in popularity in recent years. With the number of boats on London’s canals and rivers growing by 76% since 2012, the Canal & River Trust is today announcing a raft of initiatives that will benefit boaters and help manage the strain placed on the capital’s 200-year old network.

The Canal & River Trust – the charity that cares for over 100 miles of waterways in the London region – has produced a London Mooring Strategy in consultation with boaters, boating groups, and local authorities, amongst others. Initiatives include managing the increasing demand for mooring spaces, improving facilities, and fairly balancing the needs of everyone who uses the capital’s waters.

In 2018/19, the Trust will be making the following improvements:
Water points:
New taps at Harlseden, Sturt’s Lock (Shoreditch), Bow Locks, Alperton
Improve water pressure at Paddington Basin
Relocate tap from Old Ford to Sweetwater (Olympic Park)
Waste facilities:
New compounds at Harlesden, Feildes Weir (Hoddesdon), Stonebridge Lock
Elsan (toilet) facilities:
Carry out feasibility work to open an Elsan to the public on the Regent’s Canal
Working with boaters and volunteers to install additional mooring rings
Residential moorings developed at Millwall Outer Dock and Hayes
Pre-bookable moorings developed in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on St Thomas’s Creek (up to two berths), and on the Lee Navigation adjacent to the Park (three berths)
Clear signage for ‘watersports zones’ at Broxbourne and on the Lower Lee Navigation
Improved information at noticeboards, welcome stations and front-of-house

Customer priorities for which the Trust hopes to secure funding in future years include:
Development of 1800m of new long-term offside moorings, the majority of which, subject to planning permission, will be for residential use
More mooring rings to increase 14-day mooring capacity
Changes to short-term moorings to ensure the fairer use of space
New facilities to meet growing customer demand, and improvement of existing sites
Working with boaters to provide boating information and advice, as well as working with police to address concerns about towpath safety
Creation of opportunities for boating businesses in key visitor destinations
The introduction of further new pre-bookable visitor mooring sites following a review of demand, and a free pre-bookable eco-mooring zone

Matthew Symonds, boating strategy and engagement manager at the Canal & River Trust, said:
“What used to be the capital’s best kept secret has gained popular appeal, and London’s canals are busier than at any time in recent history. There are fantastic opportunities for water-based businesses, myriad ways to enjoy leisure time, and they are a place that many people call home. The resulting boom in boat numbers has caused an enormous amount of pressure on what is, after all, a finite space.

“The London Mooring Strategy is the result of our collaborative work with boaters, boating groups, local authorities, developers, and other stakeholders such as rowing groups. There’s been a good level of support for the proposals and, following an extensive consultation, we’ve listened to feedback and made changes as a result. Now we’ll work with boaters and other stakeholders to put the improvements into place and make things better for boaters and sustainable for our canals and rivers.

“Despite the challenges, London’s canals and rivers are a wonderful resource for all those who know and love them, and it’s vital that we make the best possible use of this ever-evolving space which makes so many people happy. We believe the strategy fairly balances the differing needs of all those who live, work and play on the capital’s waterways.”

To develop the London Mooring Strategy, the Trust held various workshops, consultation meetings, and engagement events, as well as conducting a wide-ranging survey of boaters in the London region. These helped shape a comprehensive strategy that identified detailed plans for each different London ‘character area’. In autumn 2017 the Trust conducted an open survey consultation on the proposals. The consultation closed in January 2018 having received over 1,200 responses.

The full report, with a detailed breakdown of the improvements, can be found at: