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Water flowing underground
same as it ever was
If you don't like boats - don't buy a flat here 
14th-Jul-2005 10:28 pm
knitting sketch
So said the sign beside one of the largest hire-fleet builders on the Grand Union Canal, that we used to pass each summer on our way to the Thames and the Oxford Ring. It was a sentiment with which we heartily agreed and it came to mind as I watched a BBC documentary charting a dispute between boat dwellers and flat dwellers. The dispute became so heated that a public inquiry was convened.

The documentary was a perfect piece of scheduling coming so soon after the Less We Forget day in London. Flat dwellers were not united in their campaign and could raise only 120 signatures to their petition. Patrick Stewart, who owns a flat there, spoke eloquently about the diversity that makes London such a great city; widely differing life styles and culture living beside one another - it has been this way for generations. The bargees gathered over 1600 signatures as they opened their homes to the public to show that they weren't aliens from outer space but ordinary people who chose to live on the water rather than beside it.

And the outcome of the inquiry - firmly granting planning permission for the moorings. The barge dwellers may be different, and the overall look of the mooring may be unexpected, said the report, but they are not unreasonable.

If you want a clear view of a stretch of water from your home, buy one on the seashore, or lakeside. Even then there's no guarantee your view won't be spoiled by ships and other nautical craft. Better still, buy a house with a garden and dig a pond.
14th-Jul-2005 09:58 pm (UTC)
This reminds me of the huge controversy in Malibu, California. The beaches there are supposed to be publically accessible, but many stars go out of their way to prevent Normal People from going on the beaches near their homes.

They restrict access from the road, they hire security guards to (illegally) shoo away luckless people who've happened to wander into their areas, etc.

Recently, they built sand berms to block access.

Luckily, the gov't told them where they can pound that sand ;)

The article's a good read.
14th-Jul-2005 10:14 pm (UTC)
I'd heard about the Californian beach but didn't know about the sand berms.

The London dispute is different in that the flats are much more recent than the moorings, and the residents are, in the main, ordinary people (albeit with a bit more money than I have to spend on a retirement home) and they knew the moorings were there when they put down the deposit on their flats. What they obviously didn't understand is that where there are boats, there is noise. Boats, their engines and mooring facilities require regular maintenance - angle grinders aren't the quietest of beasts.
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