Boat owners facing eviction to make way for a marina in Brentford have produced alternative plans for moorings which they say are more environmentally sustainable and would cost a fraction of the price.
It plans to build a new marina at the site, at an estimated cost of £5.45m, which it claims would smarten up the riverside and promote regeneration.
But the owners and occupants of the 30-odd boats there insist they have a right to remain and have come up with their own marina plans, which would allow them to do so.
Their proposals include an extended public boardwalk, giving the public better access to the river, and a pontoon dedicated for use by scouts and other local groups.
They claim the council's plans are prohibitively expensive, with the true cost in the region of £15m-£20m, and are simply a ruse to clear existing vessels.
Stephen Alexander, who lives on one of the boats, said: "The council's whole design is ridiculously over-engineered and would be an environmental catastrophe.
"We just want something Brentford can be proud of and not this awful design (of the council's) which would turn the area into a building site for four years. We believe there is a way forward that embraces the community, rather than eradicating it."
The boat owners say they have had discussions with the Port of London Authority (PLA) about their plans but the council is refusing to engage.
They say the council's plans
- involve extensive landscaping, which would be expensive and disruptive
- would release harmful pollutants left behind due to site's former use as a gas works, potentially harming the area's rich wildlife
- would cause heavy silting due to the boats' orientation, which would require regular dredging and could lead to the banks of the island opposite being eroded
- would take four years to complete, causing major disruption, and cost £15m-£20m, rather than the £5.45m quoted by the council
One boat dedicated for social housing
In contrast, they say their proposals
- would extend the park, rather than shortening it, by creating a boardwalk using existing concrete piles
- would include a public pontoon for use by scouts and other local groups for water sports
- would see all boats taken out and refitted/refurbished in stages
- would require all boat holders to pay council tax and mooring fees, providing an instant income stream for the council (at present only some boat holders pay council tax)
- would include one boat designated for social housing
- would cost £1.8m-£2.5m - no more than the amount set aside by the council for evicting boat owners
The council's plans for a new marina were submitted in September last year and are expected to go before the planning committee in the next couple of months.
You can view those plans by visiting the council's planning pages here and searching for P/2015/4055.
You can view the boat owners' alternative proposals online here .
getwestlondon has approached Hounslow Council for a comment.