Residential moorings

“After 10 years of fighting planning and court battles, we needed an expert to aid our negotiations for a 20 year licence.  Our legal friends could not find a solicitor who had experience of mooring licences and Madge was recommended by a fellow houseboater.  Madge was very thorough and professional and helped us come to an agreement which suited both parties.” Mary Graham, Kingston-upon-Thames

We have developed national policy for the Canal & River Trust, conducted an extensive review for the Port of London Authority, developed residential mooring sites, undertook a range of mooring rent reviews and advised individual house-boaters about their licences.

Residential moorings can bring many benefits such as adding life and vitality to waterspace.  They provide an attractive focal point that complements a land-based development, whilst offering an appealing lower-impact lifestyle to the resident boater. There is currently a strong demand for residential moorings, and yet only a scarce supply of available berths.   As leading experts on residential moorings, we can provide advice on schemes including:

  • Feasibility, scoping and commercial viability, based on robust market analysis
  • Site-specific design, lay-out and specification
  • Securing planning permission (or change of use from leisure to residential mooring) and other consents
  • Marketing and pricing
  • Site management and operation including customer contracts

Given the scarcity of supply, some boaters choose to live on their boats at leisure moorings without the necessary permissions.  This ‘unauthorised use’ can be a complex issue for the boater, local planning authority and navigation authority.  We understand the issue from all perspectives and can offer tailor-made advice to suit the circumstances of each case and help achieve a practical resolution.

Why are we leading experts?
As national project manager at the Canal & River Trust (formerly British Waterways) Madge Bailey examined and debated the issue of residential moorings (and living afloat without consent) in depth with a range of stake-holders (from directors and enforcement staff to planners and boaters) to distil the principal issues and developed CRT’s:

  • national policy and a strategy for its implementation
  • residential mooring site guidelines aimed at site developers and local authority planners
  • guidance on unauthorised residential use and dealing with local authority planning enforcement

Madge has also:

  • made recommendations for the Port of London Authority’s River Works Licences for residential use after a two-year review, lengthy research, legal opinion, extensive consultation with all parties and impact analysis
  • was one of the principal contributors to the advisory document Residential Use of Waterways” by AINA (Association of Inland Navigation Authorities)
  • has advised different individual houseboaters about their mooring licence
  • reviewed the Canal & River Trust’s consultation on houseboat certificate changes and the implications for mooring assignment, making recommendations for the way forward.
  • has extensive knowledge of case studies around the country including sites in the Green Belt and Conservation Areas
  • undertaken feasibility assessments and provided advice to potential mooring developers, including options for mooring fees, a draft mooring agreement and support with the planning application
  • has direct experience of developing and managing residential moorings
  • conducted national research into boaters’ demand and preferences for residential moorings
  • undertaken market-based reviews of mooring fees for a range of sites in London including marinas and smaller ‘niche’ sites; also a comprehensive review of service charges.  She also undertook a rent review of land and residential moorings, including clarifying the rights of the different parties.

Feasibility Assessment for Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Most recently we assessed a site for potential residential moorings, consulting the PLA, planners and local stake-holders, producing layouts and considering commercial issues.  We also supported the planning pre-application enquiry.

Mooring pricing and contracts

We have recently provided advice to a rural landowner establishing leisure and residential moorings, including options for mooring fees, a draft mooring agreement and support with the planning application.  We also reviewed a draft mooring agreement for a residential boater in London to ensure the interests and rights of both parties were suitably represented.

Recommendations for the Port of London Authority’s River Works Licences for residential use

We undertook a comprehensive review of the Port of London Authority’s River Works Licences for residential use on the tidal Thames.  We worked with the Valuation Office Agency and a steering group comprising representatives of the PLA and houseboat community.  During the two-year review, we researched the London residential mooring market, examined how other UK port and navigation authorities charge for works licences, sought an independent legal opinion on the Port of London Act and ran a public consultation with licensees and houseboat residents.  Our report, published in 2011, made recommendations for the licence charges, dispute resolution and phasing the implementation.   It also included an impact analysis. The Port of London Authority has since adopted the majority of the recommendations.

Advice to individual house-boaters about their mooring licence

We have provided advice to individuals about their mooring licence from their ‘landlord’.  We reviewed the terms of the licence, looking particularly at the term (number of years), security of tenure, ability to assign, obligations on both parties for maintenance and repairs, and the price.  Our advice provided an independent expert view and helped them with their negotiations.  Our charge for this type of work is usually one day or sometimes less.

Mooring fee and rent reviews for a range of mooring operators

We undertake a thorough market assessment of a broad range of moorings in the London region for our clients.  The main relevant considerations include comparable mooring sites, facilities and location, along with the level of demand.  This provides a robust basis for our advice on pricing both their leisure and residential moorings.  We have also helped to clarify the rights of the different parties involved at Thames-side mooring sites and provided in-depth analysis and best practice for service charges.