Houseboat owners in Chelsea fear being forced out by property developers

  • ITV News London's Rags Martel Reports

Houseboat owners on Cheyne Walk in Chelsea fear property developers want to force them out of their homes to make way for new "super boats".

The vessels, which replaced some smaller boats that were evicted for non-payment of fees, are split into apartments with one being advertised to rent for £16,000 per month.

One houseboat resident, Margaret Allen, says she lives in fear that her home will be taken.

"My personal peril is my license was rescinded back in 2018, which means at any point I could be written to and told to leave the moorings," she said.

"Currently that hasn't happened to me but I have to say I wake up every morning with the little thought in the back of my mind of is it going to be today.

"I've been lucky so far it hasn't been today but a lot of my neighbours have. The boat next door but one has been issued to leave by the end of December I believe but that obviously hasn't happened."

'Mega boat' rents are being advertised for rent for £16,000 per month. Credit: ITV London

In a statement, The Chelsea Boat and Yacht Company said: "It is wholly incorrect to suggest that boatowners have been unfairly evicted.

"Just six of the 62 boats on the moorings have left in the last two years, and this was only due to non-payment of fees, termination due to their license expiring, or failure to comply with essential health and safety requirements.

"In fact, less than 20% of the boats are lived in as primary residents by their owners, the vast majority are used as second or third homes or rented out for profit.

"We have no intention whatsoever of causing any distress to boatowners."

Alexandra Pringle has lived on her boat for 25 years, and says: "They're doing this so they can bring in these enormous mega boats. Huge, huge boats into this beautiful historic bit of London."

Residents have lived on Cheyne Walk since the 1930s.

"This is a community that's been here for so many decades we're all around the same age because we've been so happy here. It's destroying the community and our lives," she continued.

In December, Kensington and Chelsea councillors ruled that three new large vessels that appeared on Cheyne Walk early last year breach planning permissions and enforcement action could be taken to have them removed.

Conservative Cllr Cem Kemahali told ITV News: "Our planning committee had a meeting a few days ago where they decided they want the officers to go in and do a detailed assessment as to whether or not there has been a breach.

"We're really keen that we want to support our residents voices but we also have to act within the law"

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