The Independent London Newspaper


Floating homes plan fuels Regent’s Canal towpath war

Ian Shacklock and Del Brenner

Ian Shacklock and Del Brenner

Published: 7 September, 2012

CANAL campaigners in Islington warned of a new battle of the towpath this week over a plan to replace traditional visitor moorings with permanent luxury floating homes.

The idea comes from the Canal and River Trust (formerly British Waterways) in an attempt to reduce anti-social behaviour along parts of the waterway close to Noel Road, at the Angel.

Residents whose gardens back onto the towpath complain of smoke from boat engines pouring into their gardens and noisy generators disturbing the peace often at night. 

The claim is that many of the visiting boats are “itinerant” travellers moving from one temporary moorings to another and often overstaying their permit and causing overcrowding. Up to eight narrow boats are allowed to moor off Noel Road for between seven and 14 days.

On Wednesday, a meeting of the Friends of Regent’s Canal heard from the officials with the trust who are investigating the problem. They are considering turning the visitor moorings into a permanent mooring feature for private narrow boats.

Ian Shacklock, chairman of the Friends, said that the issue had divided members. He added: “The idea of permanent moorings did not appeal to everyone at the meeting. And not everyone is convinced that visiting canal boats cause trouble for local residents.

“But the alternative of providing permanent spaces for posh boats along the canal is also not supported.

“Permanent moorings won’t solve the problem or the housing crisis. It will probably mean rich people buying narrow boats as second homes and hardly ever using them.”

Mr Shacklock believes the issue could become almost as contentious as the cycling versus walkers row.

“Instead of walkers being worried by cyclists people are being affected in their own homes. There are obviously some difficult problems in Noel Road. But we need a much wider debate if we are to come up with a proper solution. I’m sure banning visitor rights is not the way forward.”

Del Brenner, of Regent’s Network group, said the problem of anti-social behaviour could easily be solved by an officer from the trust policing the area. “Boat users need to be reminded what they can and can’t do,” he said. “If someone is pumping smoke through a chimney or blasting a generator at night then it needs to be stopped.

“What we don’t want to do is lose our precious visitor moorings. There are not enough of them in the capital already as it is. It’s not just itinerant  travellers who use temporary visitor moorings. Holidaymakers and visitors to the London canals use them.”

A Trust spokesman had not returned our calls at the time of going to press.


'antisocial' bevaviour

Currently being moored on this stretch, I feel just using the term 'antisocial behaviour' is laughable. We're a tidy, professional couple in our early 30s generating all our power via solar panels, guy next door a holidayer from up north and oh then there's the hipster boat that sells freshly squeezed fruit juice. The only description would really be 'idyllic'. I think these Noel Rd resident complaints are a couple of years old now and being used by CRT as an excuse to sell up this space to maximise profits and slowly eradicating continuous cruising, something which would only serve to increase already growing inequalities within Islington and in the rest of the country. Islington Tribune should not fall for this.

"Itinerant Travellers in boats"

Exactly what does this phrase mean? Retirees who have sold their homes, and choose to live aboard narrowboats? Young families for whom this is the only affordable way to both live and work in London? Artists like myself who travel in order to pursue our creative work? People who simply chose to explore the beauty of British canals? By interancy do you refer to boaters who live aboard their boats and don't have any other homes, and continually cruise from place to place?

If they visit Islington for the full fourteen days stipulated in their qq licence contract, what is so bad about that?

Most urban areas require boaters burn smokeless coal. Our licence forbids the use of generators after eight pm.

If there are boaters violating these terms of their contracts, you should complain to the officers at CRT.

On the other hand, we boaters must listen to the very loud and intrusive sounds of early morning lawn mowers, seemingly endless construction projects, and loud music systems.

Islington is a choice mooring because it's secure. There are gates which lock at dusk.

It is one of the few wheelchair accessible moorings in London. It is convenient to shops.

Please keep at least six moorings available to itinerant visitors.


Itinerant means 'travels from place to place', so visitor moorings are INTENDED for itinerant boaters. Please don't use the word in a derogatory manner.

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