You are here

Policy SI17 Protecting London's waterways


  1. Development proposals that facilitate river restoration, including opportunities to open culverts, naturalise river channels, protect the foreshore and increase the heritage and habitats value, should be supported if appropriate. Development proposals to impound and constrain waterways should be refused.
  2. Development proposals should support and improve the protection of the distinct open character and heritage of waterways.
  3. Development proposals into the waterways, including permanently moored vessels and development into the waterways should generally only be supported for water-related uses.
  4. Development proposals along London’s canal network, docks, other rivers and water space (such as reservoirs, lakes and ponds) should respect their local character and environment and should contribute to their accessibility and active water-related uses. Development Plans should identify opportunities for increasing local distinctiveness.
  5. On-shore power at water transport facilities should be provided at wharves and residential moorings to help reduce air pollution.

London’s rivers have been significantly altered from their natural state. River restoration seeks to enhance their biodiversity, water quality and amenity value. The London Rivers Action Plan[140], and the Catchment Partnerships[141] which support the Thames River Basin Management Plan, identify many opportunities for river restoration, as well as showing examples that have been implemented around London.



Generally, permanently-moored vessels and development into waterways should only be permitted for water-related uses. However, uses such as bars and restaurants (for example ancillary to a passenger pier), and improved access to or along waterways and related public realm, can add to the diversity, vibrancy and regeneration of waterways, in particular in basins or docks. The specific siting of such facilities requires careful consideration so that navigation, hydrology, biodiversity and the character and use of waterways are not compromised.

Pollution from vessels should be minimised in terms of emissions from vessels and related land-side infrastructure. A baseline is being established jointly with key stakeholders including Transport for London and the PLA, along with appropriate measures and investment to minimise impact. This includes the requirement in this policy to provide on-shore power at wharves and moorings.

Development proposal should protect and promote the vitality, attractiveness and historical interest of London’s remaining dock areas.