Permits, Licences, Assessments…Understanding the complexities of building on the River Thames.
Tim Beckett of marine engineers Beckett Rankine talks us through working on Thames infrastructure projects.
Beckett Rankine are the marine consultants advising Thames Baths. Based in Westminster the firm works worldwide and has been responsible for the design of some of the world’s largest ports, such as Ras Laffan in Qatar. Closer to home Beckett Rankine has designed and helped gain consents for more than 200 projects on the tidal Thames over the last 20 years.
The Thames through central London is experiencing a level of construction activity unprecedented in living memory. Leading these projects is the Thames Tideway Tunnel (TTT) where construction of the first temporary wharf facility has recently started on site at Chambers Wharf. A similar cofferdam structure on the foreshore is due to commence shortly at King Edward Memorial Park with a new slipway for Shadwell Basin Activity Centre also being constructed.
Other TTT sites due to commence construction in 2017 are at Blackfriars, Victoria Embankment, Kirtling Street, Albert Embankment, Chelsea Embankment, Cremorne Wharf, Putney and Hurlingham Wharf. Advance enabling works for the TTT project include the recently completed replacement of Blackfriars Pier and the moving of PS Tattershall Castle.
A sad departure from the river has been the HMS President which has been moved to Chatham Docks to make way for the TTT works at Blackfriars. We hope she will be returning to a new berth in the Upper Pool but that is by no means certain as it is dependent upon fundraising.
Non TTT projects for 2017 include a new passenger pier at Battersea Power Station which has just started on site. Planning permission has been granted for the Diamond Jubilee footbridge at Imperial Wharf while there are a number of other new or replacement piers in the pipeline; both Canary Wharf East and Royal Wharf piers should be delivered this year.
Beckett Rankine have been assisting many of these projects both with the engineering designs and also in obtaining the statutory consents. Obtaining consents for works within the river are much more time consuming than for land based developments. Planning permission from the local planning authority is required for any development but once planning is achieved, onshore development may not need any other consent other than complying with the Building Regulations.
If the project is in the Thames then in addition to planning consent the project will also require a River Works Licence from the Port of London Authority, a Land Drainage Consent from the Environment Agency and a Marine Licence from the Marine Management Organisation. These marine consents require a number of supporting studies such as a hydrodynamic assessment, ecological study, archaeological assessment and a navigational risk assessment. The navigational assessment can be particularly challenging as the Thames is a busy tidal river; areas where there is deep enough water for vessels to navigate at all states of the tide tend to be heavily trafficked.
While the river may look little used to a casual observer this is because the majority of the heavy freight movements take place an hour or two either side of high tide. Furthermore some of those movements, such as the tugs towing the waste barges, are difficult to manoeuvre and therefore need a generous clearance around them. Once the TTT starts excavation work in 2018 and the spoil is removed by river there will be a dramatic increase in freight movements for the navigational risk assessments to consider.
Despite these constraints the PLA’s new vision document, proposes to encourage increases in use of the river for freight, passenger vessels and sport and recreation. To deliver these intensified activities in central London without compromising safety will require an increasing degree of inventiveness.
• River Thames
Swimming from New York to London – An interview with long-distance swimmer Michael Ventre
It seems strange to call Michael Ventre a long-distance swimmer. The term really doesn’t do him justice. It seems too light, perhaps even too simple for Michael isn’t just swimming a long-distance. He is swimming from New York to London. The journey that Concorde used to do in 3 hours 30 minutes will take Michael around 6 months to complete.
At first glance you’d probably think Michael was crazy and in fact this he says is what most people think when they first hear about his attempt. However, having talked to him on behalf of Thames Baths over the last couple of weeks, he is anything but crazy. Michael is incredibly calm and is currently meticulously planning everything.
“The last 3 years I’ve been talking to industry experts in oceanography, meteorology and prospective companies to obtain as much info about swimming the Atlantic as well as to try to obtain sponsorship.” Said Michael, who began thinking about the swim around 2007.
When we sat down with Michael we asked him what inspired him to start thinking about the swim and he told us this.
“A few days after I’d made an unsuccessful attempt at the English Channel I was back at work in Liverpool where I lived at the time. Whilst making the crossing to France I got caught in the dreaded tide 5 miles off the french coast and wasn’t fast enough to break through. I wasn’t disheartened because I managed to swim for 13 hours and that was a huge achievement for me at that time. I realized that my endurance was not an issue and that I could swim all day long if need be. So I began Googling the world’s longest swims. That’s when I came up with the idea of swimming from New York to London as it hadn’t been done before.”
I think many people would think it hadn’t been done before for a very good reason, but Michael doesn’t seem to be put off by the sheer scale of what he is setting out to do. Infact, there are many similarities between the audacity of what we are trying to do at Thames Baths and what Michael is trying to do in his crossing from New York to London. Both are going against what people say is possible, and both feel like you will be spending a lot of time swimming against the current.
We asked Michael what will keep him going on the journey. Apart from a good amount of rest, tonnes of carbs, positive vibes and potentially a little bit of music he also talked about setting specific goals, clearly relevant to all of us.
“I’m very stubborn when I’ve set my mind on a particular goal. Very often I work to a “pain and pleasure” mantra or carrot and stick philosophy so to speak. The pleasure of making it all the way to London is extremely strong. It has to be. Knowing that it’s never in vain and I will be doing it while raising awareness of extreme poverty and hopefully a hefty amount of funding for Oxfam is always something that can keep me going. It will also be a world record.”
It’s amazing to think that one person could do this and we really hope that Michael achieves his dreams. As a support partner we will be doing our best to help Michael where we can, but he still needs more support and more donations. If you think you, or your business could help him, then you can find out more at http://www.newyorktolondonswim.com/michael/.
We wish him the best of luck and will keep you updated on his journey.
Thames Baths appoint DP9 as Planning Consultants
Thames Baths are delighted to announce the appointment of planning consultants DP9 (www.dp9.co.uk). DP9 and our architects Studio Octopi are now working through the final stages of the Pre Planning Report that will set the foundation for a planning application in early 2016.
As one of the leading expert consultancies in planning, development and regeneration in the UK, DP9 are well placed to help make the report and application successful. DP9 is an independent practice providing advice to major developers and landowners on the most exciting and challenging town planning projects.
We are incredibly excited to have DP9 onboard and believe it shows the ongoing commitment of the Thames Baths team to bring in best-in-class teams to bring the idea to life.
If you’d like to find out more about DP9 you can read all about them here.
HQS Wellington Planning Application: A view from us at Thames Baths
HQS Wellington served for King and country during World War Two and now resides on the north bank of the Thames just upstream from our originally proposed site of Temple Stairs. Since 1948 she has been moored on the Thames and become home to The Honourable Company of Master Mariners. There are now proposals to move her on behalf of The Garden Bridge Trust to enable the safe construction of the as yet unconfirmed Garden Bridge.
As you will know from the original images and designs of Thames Baths, we proposed Temple Stairs as a possible location for Thames Baths. We felt at the time it was a suitable site because of proposed improvements to Victoria Embankment to this under developed stretch of riverwalk. We’ve known for awhile, thanks to meetings we had with TfL and The Garden Bridge Trust, that they may need to move HQS Wellington closer to Temple Stairs.
Even though the Garden Bridge is still seeking final approvals, we decided about a year ago to start looking at other sites. This is why we proposed, during the Kickstarter campaign, to have a site at City Hall and/or along the SouthBank. Both of these have excellent footfall and Thames Baths felt like a brilliant addition to the existing context.
The planning application lodged by TfL and live here, doesn’t change much for us. We are currently reviewing the additional sites along the Thames (and more besides) that offer better and more accessible locations for Thames Baths.
Thames Baths to focus on Community Interest
Ever since we first sketched out the original concept for Thames Baths, we have always wanted to build something that benefited the community and allowed them to participate in its creation. The latter is one of the reasons why we are launching crowd-funding on Kickstarter in the next few weeks. The former is a key decision in the way we have decided to incorporate the company.
It seems fitting that the creation of a new public space along the River Thames should be run as a social enterprise rather than a company dictated by profit. A truly public space created for the people that use it, not those that own it.
Today we applied to become Thames Baths Community Interest Company (CIC). It is a choice we are hugely excited by, extremely passionate about and feel it shows how dedicated we are not only to making this happen, but to making it meaningful for the community where it will be built.
When established as a CIC we will be able to use our profits and assets for the public good, in this case, safely re-introducing access to urban waterways for swimming and recreation, for all, especially local schools, children, and other community groups.
Thames Baths CIC will return any financial surplus into its objectives locally, nationally and eventually, internationally. It will also have a mandatory ‘asset lock’, so that donors and investors can rest assured that their money will be legally tied to the enterprise’s original social goals.
As a CIC our dynamic, creative enterprise will be able to channel its energies towards the strengthening of community in which it exists not just now, but long into the future.
If you’d like to understand more about Community Interest Companies then the following articles and sites helped us: