Oceandiva: Record complaints as Europe's biggest party boat moors in London's River Thames

Tap above to watch video report by Anila Dhami

Hundreds of worried residents are fighting to stop Europe's biggest party boat docking close to their homes fearing the vessel, which is longer than a jumbo jet, will cause huge disruption.

A record number of nearly 1,000 people have urged Newham Council to deny the Oceandiva a licence in east London.

The £25 million pound party ship is three storeys high and can accommodate up to 1,500 people.

The boat's operators bought two piers near Butlers Wharf and West India Pier near Canary Wharf. Is it currently moored at King George V Dock in east London.

Margo Lewis, who has lived in nearby Shad Thames for the last ten years, said it would have a big impact on the area.

"We are very worried about the size of the boat and the scale of the operation, it is something London has never seen before," Margo told ITV News London.

"It is the size of seven buses, and it is going to dominate the riverside wherever it decides to park and have parties.

"I have lived here ten years and it is a vibrant area because there are lots of restaurants and bars and more tourists every year. So it is very lively and that is fine.

"But the Oceandiva brings something very different to that.

"You've got potentially 1,500 people embarking and disembarking from a tiny pier through narrow streets and that will affect people who don't just live on the river but people like me who have our bedroom windows facing out onto where these people will get their taxis home at night."

A consortium operating the boat applied for an alcohol licence from Newham Council which said it was aware of the vessel's arrival.

The owners of the Ocean Diva claim the ship will be environmentally-friendly Credit: ITV News

The council said a decision about whether or not to grant a licence would be made following a public consultation and several test events.

Margo added: "When there was first a plan to bring the Oceandiva here in about 2018 they were planning to build their own pier in the City of London.

"That went through the whole proper process of planning permission which meant lots of different agencies and residents had their say.

"This time, they have bought a pier at Butler's Wharf and so far have not had to apply for planning permission to use it.

"All they have to do is apply to Newham where their business is based for an alcohol licence. That's when local residents had a chance to put our objections in.

"About 1,000 objections were raised which is more than the council has ever had for any application of that sort. "We do not want Oceandiva to be operating here, we do not think it is appropriate and the impact on the streets around."

View from the bridge on the Oceandiva Credit: ITV News

Other people living nearby said they wanted to see "joint up public scrutiny" of how the Oceandiva would affect residents and businesses.

Chloe Jackson from Smart Group which will operate events on board said they would fully engage with anyone affected.

She told ITV News London: "We first started on the project in 2016 and to have it here with us now in London is an incredible experience. "We initially went to Amsterdam in 2016 to consider the opportunity to bring a vessel such as Oceandiva to London and realised the vessel needed to be a different style for the River Thames.

"It was only in 2019 when we set about building the vessel but then Covid got in the way. Then there were delays in the shipyard but then fast forward to 2023 and here we are! "We had to withdraw our licensing application on two occasions and that's been due to the delay with the build.

"Now the vessel is here we needed to ensure the vessel is here for people to see for the authorities and residents to see the vessel themselves. Later in 2023 we will be able to re-submit our application. "Oceandiva London is a sustainable events venue for corporate events throughout London, the main difference being it is on the Thames.

"It has a focus on corporate events such as exhibitions and product launches and charity galas. "We want to consult with the local authorities and the residents to determine the best capacity that suits the vessel. In our most recent licence application the number was 1,000 guests. "We intend to enter a period of consultation with residents and authorities and part of that period will be operating test events to help us demonstrate the safety and security of the vessel we can then consider resubmitting our application.

Chloe Jackson said the Oceandiva was also the first vessel passenger vessel to be awarded the platinum label Green Award and they were proud of their eco-credentials.

However, other have raised concerns about the boat's security, including Deputy Chair of the London Assembly's Transport Committee Caroline Pidgeon.

"I’m deeply concerned about Oceandiva," she said.

"The environmental benefits are clearly being over played and the business owners appear not to be responsible, appearing to be exploiting loopholes in the complex governance of the River, while also carrying out works before gaining permission.

"All this reminds me of when Uber came into London, creating facts on the ground and daring regulators to reverse them. In addition, there are real security concerns with a vessel this size, attracting huge numbers of party-goers, that will be a tempting target for terrorists."

Local councillor Rachel Bentley who represents the ward of North Bermondsey in Southwark said it was simply a case of the "wrong boat for the wrong river".

She was concerned the boat would not be in keeping for a narrow urban river and would be "better suited to the ocean", or a city with a bay where it would be able to hold events without disturbing local residents and businesses.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...