Still Time to Comment on Two Pier Applications in Putney

Rival schemes are being considered by borough planning officers

Visualisation of one of the proposed new piers. Picture: Thames Clippers



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Borough planning officers are still considering applications from rival companies to build new piers by Putney Embankment.

The two proposals that are being made are Livett’s Launches (ref. 2022/1280), the owner of the existing Putney Pier, and Thames Clipper who want to build a new pier off the Tideway Platform (ref. 2022/2916).

Both applications have generated a significant number of objections, particularly from members of local rowing clubs, who believe they may interfere with their activities, as well as The Putney Society. At the time of writing over 260 people had objected to the Livetts plan and 67 to that of Thames Clipper although the latter has been submitted more recently.

Although the published deadlines for comments has officially passed for both applications, it is understood that planning officers still await key reports and comments are still being accepted. You can still enter comments on Wandsworth Council’s planning pages.

A pier has existed in this location since at least the latter half of the nineteenth century when the Embankment was built and the riverside started to be used extensively for leisure and recreation.

The current pier has been in place for around 70 years
The current pier has been in place for around 70 years

The current pier is around 70 years old, and, several years ago, a large vessel knocked the eastern dolphin out of plumb. It therefore needs major refurbishment and modernisation if it is to handled expected growth in river traffic.

Ownership of the pier was transferred to the Greater London Council (GLC) in 1965, and then to the Thames Water Authority, National Rivers Authority and Port of London Authority (PLA). It was acquired by Livett’s Launches Ltd in 1996.

The Livett’s proposal is for the extension of the existing pontoon by 74 metres, installation of 6 tubular steel piles, 1 spacer pontoon and 6 marina style pontoons. This would provide berths for light freight, passenger and visiting vessels and embarking and disembarking passengers and goods. There would also be an installation of solar panels on western dolphin of existing pier. The pontoon immediately downstream of the existing Pier would be 10m long x 6m wide and made of steel.

The existing out-of-plumb eastern downstream dolphin would be demolished and replaced with a tubular steel pile. Gangways would be installed each side of the tubular steel pile between the existing Pier and the new extension.

At present the outside berth of the pier is used mainly by river buses and chartered vessels; the inside berths by residential boats. There is potential for delay if the outside berth is occupied when another vessel arrives, so river buses and other passenger vessels require separate berths.

The plan is to make the existing pier a dedicated berth for river buses and provide an additional berth for other passenger vessels immediately downstream of the pier on the new extension. The extension would enable upriver services from Westminster to Hampton Court to call at the pier as they once did, possibly incorporating an evening restaurant service.

The Thames Clipper proposal is for the provision of a new river pier to serve a river bus service including two dolphin piles, a fixed bridge, canting brow, bankseat with shelter above and pontoon alongside landside works including the integration of the fixed bridge to the Thames Tideway Structure.

A ramp would lead down to the pontoon in the Thames Clipper proposal
A ramp would lead down to the pontoon in the Thames Clipper proposal

The applicant says that the two-level pontoon would be positioned at a safe distance from the main navigation channel and Putney Bridge, circa 30m and 50m respectively from its berthing face. Two new mooring piles are required to restrain the pontoon in position on the changing tide. These will be driven steel circular hollow sections (tubes), where the top of the pile will have sufficient height to prevent the pontoon from becoming detached during flooding.

A canopy will provide cover for up to 35 waiting passengers in poor weather conditions, and also provides access to the dedicated light freight storage area. The pier would provide storage facilities for roll-on roll-off (Ro-Ro) or cycle-on cycle-off (Co-Co) enterprises. Provision in the storage facilities could also be made for click-and-collect schemes.

The Thames Clipper utilises the platform built by Thames Tideway
The Thames Clipper utilises the platform built by Thames Tideway

Putney passenger numbers on the river boat services are projected to grow significantly from the current year forecast of around 50,000 a month to close to 250,000 by 2030.

Once the planning officers have received consultee reports the applications will be presented to the borough Planning Applications Committee. It is not known at this stage if they will be considered separately or at the same meeting. The understanding is that only one of the plans can proceed as a new pier would not be viable without revenue from the river bus services.

If either application is approved it will still need to gain the consent of the Port of London Authority (PLA) and others.

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September 2, 2022