‘Megaboats’ handed eviction notice after council say they spoil the view

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Two large ‘megaboats’ at Chelsea Reach Harbour have been served an eviction notice after a West London council doubled down on its plans to get rid of them because they reportedly spoiled the view. Kensington and Chelsea council officers handed The Zephyr and The Pacifica the notice on Wednesday, May 8. A spokesperson has queried the decision.

Both have eight months to permanently move unless an appeal is lodged by June 19. A spokesperson for the leaseholder, Chelsea Yacht and Boat Company, said the council’s own leader, planning team and expert legal advisors have confirmed three times now that no planning breach has occurred.

It comes after councillors re-approved the eviction during a meeting Tuesday evening (May 7). They had been asked to review an earlier decision to boot the boats after one left voluntarily.

Gerard Hargreaves, ward councillor for Chelsea Riverside, said he supported the move. He said: “Chelsea Riverside is a uniquely beautiful neighbourhood on London’s iconic riverside and enforcement notices have now been served against these mega-boats, which are no way in keeping with the landscape.

“The community has felt very strongly that action should be taken – a position I have supported, along with my fellow ward councillors. I have admired the community’s resilience, dignity and perseverance throughout the process.”

Labour’s candidate for Chelsea and Fulham Ben Coleman called the decision an ‘important victory’ for the community. He tweeted: “Enforcement action will now be taken against the predatory landlord and his horrendous megabarges. We fight on to save this iconic Chelsea River community.”

In February, councillors unanimously agreed to evict three large apartment boats, which varied in size from one to three bedrooms. In doing so, councillors overruled their own officers who claimed there were no grounds for eviction.

At the time, chair James Husband said the boats blocked views of the River Thames along Cheyne Walk and should be removed. He also said the megaboats gave a ‘sense of enclosure’ for neighbouring houseboats and would change the outlook of the River.

The houseboats had been given nine months to leave but after one left officers returned to councillors asking if the enforcement action against the two remaining boats should be carried out. The boat was removed and taken to dry dock in December 2023 and has not yet returned.

At the time, the owners said they would appeal the February decision. A spokesperson for the Chelsea Yacht and Boat Company said then that no planning breach had occurred.

They said: “This decision, taken by a small group of councillors against the advice of RBKC’s [Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea] own officers, Leader and legal experts, puts taxpayer funds at serious risk because, as the Council Leader has warned, any enforcement action would leave the Council open to challenge at appeal, including a cost challenge.

“We would question why this small group of councillors are proceeding with this dispute against the backdrop of wider financial pressures.”

Three large boats – The Iris, The Pacifica and The Zephyr – were introduced to the moorings between June and September 2023.

Photo: A picture of the ‘apartment boats’ next to regular houseboats along Chelsea Reach harbour, which will soon need to leave after the council agreed to issue an eviction notice. Credit: RBKC.


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