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URGENT Planning application concerning Greenland Dock

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Monday 24 October 2011 12.02pm
Hi all,

A planning application has been submitted for "Temporary pontoons and floating facility units for 350 visitor moorings during the 2012 Olympics, and temporary extension of opening hours of The Surrey Quays Watersport Centre (7.30am to 11.00pm, 7 days a week) from 23rd July 2012 to 15th August 2012 to provide a management base for the temporary marina, customer reception and facilities for visiting yachtsmen and their families."

Those who have visited Greenland Dock will know that it's a quiet residential area, with local wildlife nesting and using the Dock as their feeding grounds. There is already strong opposition from the locals (I haven't seen more replies to an LBS consultation before!) but the council is apparently supportive of the application with a view of making the structures permanent!

This would severely affect wildlife by the removal of nesting platforms, as well as local residents and the infrastructure, which is not built to support such an influx of people (about 1500 - 1750 extra people for a month during the Olympics).

The planning application is a joke (describing Greenland Dock as "currently an empty waterspace") and purely motivated by greed for money. LBS nevertheless seem happy to get their share of money and ruin the area in return and apparently the applicant is LBS's preferred operator - even before the application has been considered!!! To me that smells a bit of fish!

We need more voices against this sort of reckless development in Southwark - I wouldn't be against this if it was properly planned, for fewer visitors and if something was done in return for the local community. Instead the lasting legacy is "a floating facilities unit" i.e. 2 floating toilets!!

It would be great if you can send an e-mail to say you oppose the plans - we need more responses! You can e-mail referencing application number 11/AP/3157.
There is a committee meeting on 01/11/2011, so any responses will need to be sent as early as possible, and well before that.

The case is here:

And the planning application and replies so far are here:

You can send a simple e-mail to say that you object to the application or you can make it as detailed as you like. Here's my reply which should enlighten you on some of the issues - feel free to copy/paste as you see fit.


Dear Mr Verster,

In my capacity as a local resident and regular user of the Surrey Docks Leisure Centre, I would like to register my strong objection to the planning application number 11/AP/3157 ("Temporary pontoons and floating facility units for 350 visitor moorings during the 2012 Olympics...") for the following reasons:

1. Environmental:
a. I find it shocking that there is absolutely no regard for wildlife nesting in the platforms that exist at Greenland Dock, which are not even mentioned in the application (and which have recently started to fall into disrepair – is this a coincidence?). There are currently hundreds of animals using the Dock as their home and feeding grounds, including cormorants, swans, grebes, coots, ducks, geese, herons and seagulls. I’m appalled that the applicants describe Greenland Dock as "currently an empty waterspace"!! This shows complete lack of knowledge of the area and extremely poor planning - if not shameless distortion of reality.
b. The provision of 2 small facilities platforms for 1500 people and the expectation that ‘most’ boats will use their onboard facilities and not throw black water back into the Dock is comical. As described in other responses, boats of that size are not required to have holding facilities for their black water and therefore I can’t see how they would manage (or, with no ties to the local area, why they would bother) to not throw their black water into the Dock. The ‘small freshwater stream’ described in the proposal is not nearly enough to refresh the murky waters even on good days, so I can’t see how that could provide enough fresh water when 350 extra boats are using the Dock.
c. According to Southwark’s own “Core Strategy Preferred Options”, Policy 11: Open Spaces and Wildlife, Core Strategy objectives: 2B, 2E, 2F:
“We are trying to protect and improve open and green spaces in Southwark as this makes places attractive and popular and provides sport and leisure opportunities. We want new development to create gardens, encourage wildlife and improve green spaces.
We will do this by protecting a network of open spaces of various types and sizes, including large spaces of importance to all of London (Metropolitan Open Land) and smaller spaces of more local and borough-wide importance (Borough Open Land and Other Open Space).

- Protecting nature reserves, woodlands, wildlife and trees.
- Protecting allotments and sports grounds.
- Asking for new open spaces with developments.”

The plans put forward by this Planning Application are contrary to all of the above, so I cannot see how our Council could ever support this application.

2. Disturbance to the local residents:
For reasons already described by numerous other local residents, including but not limited to:
a. Noise – The fact that, as described in the application, the water level is well below the ground would not reduce the noise; it would actually make it worse, as sound is reflected by the water more so than earth and surrounding walls act as a ‘sound box’. It’s basic physics and again shows how poorly prepared –if not purposefully misguiding- this application is.
b. Antisocial behaviour – already occasionally experienced in this area, I can’t see how adding about 1500 more people who would like to ‘celebrate the spirit of the Olympics’ (i.e. get drunk) on their boats would help.

3. Poor public transport connections:
I expect boat owners and their visitors would be using either the Jubilee line which is already at capacity and will be even more stretched during the Olympics as it serves major venues or vehicles which will need access via Lower Road’s one-way system which is heavily congested during peak hours. Both are a source of much pain for local residents/commuters and with the addition of Barratt’s new developments near Canada Water Tube Station the pressure on the system is growing significantly. Buses do not offer any viable alternative as they rely on offloading people connecting with the Jubilee line at Canada Water. Thames Clippers are unlikely to be able to support many additional passengers on the local route – nor do their routes cover all major Olympics venues.

4. Issues of access:
As noted by other residents, access to the area is rather difficult and the infrastructure (both roads and the lifting bridge) quite old and to the point of not being able to support additional demand. I do not own a boat, but looking at the proposed timetable for lifting the bridge (“between 50 and 100 visiting yachts” – “lifting road to be raised for 30 minutes or more once or twice a day”) does not seem nearly enough time to allow the necessary movements to take place, especially considering the width of the access canal and the fact that none of the visitors will have prior experience of the area.

5. Extremely poor planning:

a. I’ve already noted my objections to several points of the application which I consider to be suspiciously misleading (e.g. characterising Greenland Dock as “currently an empty waterspace”), but in general it seems to have been very poorly thought out. For example, there is no mention of what will happen to existing wildlife nesting platforms and it is also mentioned that “many yachtsmen would use the facilities at the watersports centre” which, for example with regards to toilets, has 2 cubicles and no urinals. It is a small centre, already heavily used by paying local residents who, according to the application “will be informed of the less busy times to visit”. This is simply outrageous, and completely contrary to the spirit of the Olympics (which this application is supposed to be in connection with).
b. In some places it is mentioned that the average occupancy of the 350 boats will be 5 persons per boat, whereas in others this is mentioned as 4 persons per boat. 350x4 = 1400 people in total, whereas 350x5=1750 people. This is a 25% difference which is not insignificant at all!
c. The layout plan shows only 50 boats! It would be less misleading if it actually showed all 350. It would only take 2 minutes to add the rest 300 boats with the appropriate software and would paint a clear picture of the mess that Greenland Dock will become.
d. It is mentioned that "Biodiversity is limited as it is an enclosed body of water". I would be damned… I’ve counted over 8 different species using the Dock to nest and feed, plus fish, that would all suffer (and several probably perish) if the proposals go ahead.
e. It is also mentioned that "the visiting yachts will enhance the dock and maritime setting". Ask the local residents! I completely fail to see how 350 modern yachts and 1500 visitors will enhance the setting or a tranquil residential neighbourhood!
f. It is also mentioned that “Our chartered environmentalist tells us that any water that is discharged from the yachts will be highly diluted (e.g. a small amount of washing up liquid in a sink of water) and have minimal impact upon the extremely large body of water within the dock." This might be the case for one boat, but it cannot be the case for 350 boats. As mentioned above, there is extremely limited freshwater supply, which will not be enough to refresh the water, and Greenland Dock does not hold an “extremely large body of water” after all – it is rather shallow.
g. In addition to point f above, there is no provision for any clothes washing facilities – and there are no such local facilities to the best of my knowledge. I assume people staying for 4 weeks would need to wash their clothes somewhere, and would more than likely prefer to do so on their boat, discharging the water into the Dock.
h. A "photograph to illustrate the type of temporary pontoon installation proposed" is being attached to the application. I consider this to be highly misleading, because what it doesn't illustrate is the density of having 350 boats in an area the size of Greenland Dock. The photo shows about 15-18 boats in an area roughly 1/5 the size of Greenland Dock - it is therefore highly misleading.
i. "Additional water-sports activities may be provided for the children of the visiting yachtsmen". It is extremely ironic that tideway sailability, the charity that provides activities to children and local residents with disabilities will lose access to the Dock for 5 weeks (risking closure of the charity), yet children of the visiting yachtsmen will be provided with additional water-sports activities.

6. No lasting legacy for the community:
The only lasting legacy for the local community –who will suffer for at least 5 weeks plus the long-term consequences-, is a floating facilities unit!!! This is a joke - I honestly cannot find any other word to describe it. It shows complete disregard for the community, it shows that this application is motivated by Pure greed for a quick buck during the Olympics (why is it being submitted so late anyway?) and it shows that no proper thought has been put into it.

7. Loss of facilities for Tideway Sailability:
Many other residents have raised their concern over the loss of facilities for the local charity that provides activities to children and local residents with disabilities. Tideway Sailability will lose access to the Dock for at least 5 weeks over their peak season (risking closure of the charity), which is completely in contrast with the spirit of the Olympics. I can also think of a few bits of Legislation that this would be in contrast with and would be prepared to fight appropriately to keep their right of access to the Dock, even though I am not currently enjoying their services.

8. No information has been provided by LBS as to their reason for supporting this application:

a. Applicants mention that "LBS Public Realm are supportive" of their application. I cannot see ANY reason why LBS would be supportive of this application, other than monetary gain. It goes against the Council’s environmental beliefs, it is against the spirit of the Olympics (for the reasons mentioned above), it is against the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the local residents and it is clearly poorly planned and motivated by greed. Therefore, I would expect any planning officer to reject this application and I would be prepared to appeal and fight against it to the maximum extend allowed by the law.
b. It is also mentioned by the applicant that "[...] therefore the London Borough of Southwark considered them to be an ideal operator for this facility". I am wondering on what grounds did LBS make such a decision? Has this facility already been agreed between the applicant and LBS? The applicant certainly seems to think so, and I am alarmed that LBS are supportive of this and have apparently already chosen their favourite operator! I am also concerned about any pressures that might be put upon you as a planning officer and would be prepared to take action should a decision be made purely on the grounds of financial gain for LBS. I would expect any decision to address all the points mentioned above, as well as those made by other residents.
c. I find it very interesting that, even though I use the Surrey Docks Watersports centre three to four times a week, I was only informed about the application (which will actually affect the Centre) by signs put up by local residents – not LBS, nor the applicants, nor the Centre (which is being operated on behalf of LBS). To this day, I’ve only managed to find one yellow sign put up by LBS on my way to the Centre and about 12 put up by local residents!
d. I also find it very interesting that even though customers of the Centre have requested an extension of its opening times, we have been informed that this would require a planning application and “neither Fusion nor Southwark Council” would be prepared to submit that. It would again be extremely ironic if permission was granted to extend the Centre’s opening hours for something much more disruptive to local residents.

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