Thames Safegaurded Wharves – how safe are they? – that is the question

As we all know Orchard Wharf is one of the wharves on the Thames that is safegaurded by the PLA for river use but this hasn’t stopped a planning application which is likely to happen taking place on the site of yes you guessed it…more riverside flats!

The complex will feature six tower blocks with rooftop style garden area (15-30 story – 456 build-to-rent flats, 136 private sale, 81 discount market rent and 152 ‘affordable’ rented flats) and the central underground complex is proposed (to overcome the safegaurded wharf issue the developers face) is to build a container type barge terminal and 3 story underground logistics warehouse on the site that would be open for use 24 hours and allow goods to be transferred from river to road. There are various design options that have been put forward below:

The Port of London Authority writes in the planning application process:

“A development proposal for a safeguarded wharf includes land uses unrelated to the handling of waterborne freight, the design of the development must not constrain the long-term use and viability of the safeguarded wharf, including ensuring that the freight-handling capacity of the wharf is not reduced and the reactivation of the wharf for waterborne freight handling is delivered and secured for the long-term. As explained above, the PLA is in ongoing discussions with the applicant in order to ensure that the existing and emerging policy requirements of the London Plan in respect of Safeguarded Wharves as explained above are met.

There must be confidence that the long term viability of the Safeguarded Wharf for cargo-handling is not detrimentally
affected by the proposed development. Any potential complaints from future residents may lead to a restriction of
activity taking place on the Safeguarded Wharf, contrary to policies contained in the emerging London Plan (Policy
SI15) and the extant London Plan (policy 7.26), where it is essential that development on, or in close proximity to,
Safeguarded Wharves is developed to “design away conflicts” including nois

This has to be the most important part of the whole application – the design is all very well but it leaves various questions and thoughts:

– Who and which companies will operate here and what types of cargo can it handle?
– How can the application ensure the long-term future and use of the wharf for waterborne freight and its safety?
– If the wharf and warehouse does not prove to be a success, will the wharf itself be able to be taken down and built on or remain safegaurded?
– Will residents complain about the noise levels and try to stop the use of the site once built?

With container terminals and large container ships docking and unloading at Tilbury and down river, will there be a use for this on the site?

Many of these questions and points are looked at in great detail in the Tower Hamlets applications to which there are hundreds of pages to read on various areas but if you wish to do so it can be found here: