Surge in living afloat stretches London’s resources

THE Inland Waterways Association is calling on Canal & River Trust to speed up the introduction of more facilities, including moorings, on London’s waterways and warning people thinking of living on boats in London to seriously assess the implications of adopting that lifestyle.

In the wake of a survey that indicates there has been a 57 percent increase in people living on boats in the capital since 2012, the charity has emphasised that facilities for boaters in London are hopelessly inadequate to meet spiralling demand from both prospective residents and visitors.

For instance in central London – TfL’s Zones 1&2 – there are only seven public water points, five sewage and five refuse disposal facilities to serve all of London’s resident and visiting boaters. In addition, moorings are also seriously overcrowded, with boats frequently moored three abreast, presenting potentially significant risks to occupants in the event of fire.

Paul Strudwick, chairman of IWA’s London Region, said: “We can readily understand why more and more people struggling with the London housing ladder are wondering if a boat is a viable and affordable option, but we would urge them to properly assess if it will work for their personal circumstances, as the restrictions of living aboard a boat full time mean that sometimes it’s no bed of roses.”

“The fact that, unless they have access to a designated home mooring, boats also need to keep moving around the waterway network to meet their licence conditions obviously makes it an impractical choice for people needing consistent access to places of work or education,” he added.

IWA is also maintaining its call on Canal & River Trust not to issue ‘continuous cruising’ licences to people who cannot or do not intend to comply with the statutory requirements, and to enforce mooring rules fairly but firmly in London and elsewhere for the benefit of all in the boating community.

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