London Canal Boat Influx Causes 'Fleet Versus Street' Conflict
A recent article in the Guardian has shed light on the ‘fleet versus street’ conflict arising in central London as the ‘community of the canal’ continues to grow.
London recently overtook Hong Kong as the world’s most expensive city. With over 100 miles of waterways, it is no surprise that workers in the capital are looking to the canals for alternative living spaces as rent prices continue to rise. Narrow boats along the Thames have become a lifeline for many people. However, there is growing tension between boaters and residents whose properties border the towpath. In a number of cases, "those living on the water have been accused of being inconsiderate neighbours and jumping the queue for affordable housing. Leisure boaters are not happy either".
As more people turn to living on the canal as the only option to live and work in the capital, it is now thought there are approximately 3,000 boats fighting for the city’s 2,000 moorings. With permanent mooring spots fetching prices as high as some London homes, many canal boat owners in the capital are making dubiously short trips in order to adhere to the cruising requirements outlined in their licences.
Many residents whose properties border the towpaths have complained about issues with noise and pollution caused by the stoves, engines and generators inside the boats that line the canals in front of their homes. Many residents feel impaired by the lack of infrastructure and rules for canal boat owners to adhere to. The UK’s waterways are managed by the Canal and River Trust (CRT), and although many are pointing the finger at the charity as the cause of these growing tensions, their finite legal powers and inherent support for canal boat owners means their only response to the issue can be to promote ‘mutual respect’ between boat owners and homeowners.
Whether more or less mooring spots should be introduced in the capital appears to be an ongoing debate. The root of the problem mainly arises from astronomical housing prices in London, and without change, living on the canals will become a more desirable option to a growing number of people, regardless of how it affects the wider community.
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Image Credits: Flickr User - CGP Grey
Article by Jack Bartrop