Oceandiva Party Boat

 

1 September 2022, updated 18 September 2022

 

Thames Luxury Charters, which own the three boats moored at Butler's Wharf, has been bought by Oceandiva London Shipping Ltd. along with the rights to use the Butler's Wharf jetty. 

 

According to conversations that STRA has had with the Oceandiva team, they intend to use Butler’s Wharf pier for up to 40 events per year on the new ship Oceandiva, which is currently being built in the Netherlands and which is expected to arrive on the Thames later this year. Discussions for Oceandiva to use other piers along the Thames are ongoing but at present Butler's Wharf is their only central London option.

 

The boat's operation from Butler's Wharf has the potential to bring changes to our neighbourhood that some may find unwelcome, including the disembarkation of over 1,000 party-goers into our streets late at night.

 

 

The Thames riverside communities have only one chance to try have conditions placed on the operation of the Oceandiva, and that is to make objections to the licensing application that the boat's owners have filed with Newham Council. The deadline for objections is 7 October. 

 

Below you'll find:

 

  • Background on what’s happening now
  • History of Oceandiva’s attempt to come to the Thames
  • Information about a public meeting on this topic
  • Advice on how to oppose Oceandiva’s Licence Application

 

What’s Happening

The Oceandiva will be the biggest vessel ever to regularly use the Thames. It can hold 1500 passengers standing or 600 seated, and is being advertised to host an array of events either as static exhibitions or sailings between Greenwich and Central London. The size of the boat, 86m long, almost the length of a football pitch, and 17m in breadth, spanning three decks, limits its upstream travel to London Bridge.

 

The owners have put in a licencing application for Oceandiva at Newham, where the boat will technically be berthed. Oceandiva initially requested a 24 hour licence to sell alcohol and provide entertainment, including amplified music, films, theatre and all the other events. They have now amended the hours requested in their application to 11:00 am- 2:00 am, with an extra request to allow them to operate until 3:00 am six times per year. Residents who would like to object to the licence terms requested by Oceandiva have until 7 October to do so. This is a fixed deadline and no objections will be accepted after it passes. A hearing will take place within 20 working days of the objection period closing, should enough objections be raised. 

 

 

History

A previous attempt to launch the Oceandiva on the Thames was scuppered when permission to rebuild the Swan Lane Pier by the City end of London Bridge was unanimously refused by the City of London’s Planning & Transportation Committee in 2020, following receipt of 836 objections, including representations from the Police, the River Thames Society, the London Wildlife Trust, the Fishmongers’ Company, the Tower of London, Shakespeare’s Globe, and Southwark Cathedral.

 

Planning permission was refused in part because of the impact that embarking and disembarking guests would have on the surrounding area, including noise and pollution. These are the conditions that residents of Shad Thames are now facing. Because Oceandiva has purchased access to the pier at Butler’s Wharf, the owners do not need to apply for planning permission to operate from our pier. Responding to the licencing application is currently the only way for residents of Shad Thames to have their voices heard about Oceandiva.

 

 

Public Meeting 8 September **

STRA is working with many local groups and individuals on this issue, including our councillors and the board directors of your buildings, who have organized a public meeting with members of the Oceandiva management team at 7:00 pm on 8 September at the Southwark Council office on Tooley Street. We urge residents who are concerned about the arrival of Oceandiva in Shad Thames to attend this meeting. 

 

** This meeting was canceled due to the death of Her Majesty Elizabeth II. It has been rescheduled for 21 September at 7:00 pm at St. James Church, Thurland Road, London SE16 4AA. 

 

 

Licensing Objection Advice

The grounds for opposing a licence are very narrow, and STRA has consulted with licencing experts to create a template for objections should residents want to register them. The subject headings in the copy below represent the Licensing Objectives that the committee will consider when reviewing this application. 

 

To make a comment on Newham’s online Licensing portal, visit this link:

https://bit.ly/3Ay7wcN

 

If this link doesn’t work, you can visit Newham’s Licensing Portal: 

 

https://pa.newham.gov.uk/online-applications/search.do?action=simple&searchType=LicencingApplication

 

And search for this application:

 

22/03097/LAPRE

 

Click on ‘Comments.’

 

This will take you through to a link that will require you to register. Once registered, you can comment using language from the template below. However, when using the text below, it is essential that you make variations and personal comments within the subheadings. Batch and copy/pasted objections will be discounted by the committee. 

 

If for some reason the comments are disabled or the registration process doesn’t work:

 

  1. Please email: licensing@newham.gov.uk
  2. Put ‘Objection to Licence 22/03097/LAPRE: Oceandiva’ in the subject line
  3. Make sure your name and postal/street address are included at the end of your message
  4. Request a receipt for the objection
  5. Copy to your ward councillor if you live in a riverside ward

 

Objection to Licence 22/03097/LAPRE:  Oceandiva

I write as a resident of Shad Thames to ask that this licence is refused on the following grounds: 

 

The Prevention of Public Nuisance

1.       This application asks for a licence until 2:00 am, which means that residents, especially families along the Thames could be disturbed throughout the night, 7 days per week. The Thames amplifies and bounces noise up and down the river. Public Nuisance would be generated by human voice and music from the decks and also by noisy groups of partygoers in the early hours disembarking into nearby residential streets.

2.       A number of party boats - all with open decks - already cause severe Noise Nuisance for thousands of families who live near the Thames. Over 1100 Noise Nuisance complaints have been filed with the London Port Health Authority and riparian boroughs in the last year alone. Any additional vessel, especially one of this size, will add to the noise impact on residents and businesses along the river. 

3.       The Oceandiva has vast open decks on a bigger scale than anything seen in London before. Photographs show that the Oceandiva fleet uses tents or canopies on the open decks. But tents or canopies will not prevent noise breakout of music and human voice.  I believe that this vessel, due to its size and scale, will create significant additional public nuisance as it passes along the river with a party on board.

4.       Residents of Shad Thames have reason to believe that Oceandiva will be using the pier at Butler’s Wharf to embark and disembark passengers. Whilst the licence would be granted by Newham Council, there would be a significant impact on the residents, hospitals, cultural organisations, spiritual institutions and businesses in our neighbourhood if the boat is moored at our pier, especially if it was to stay overnight, with consequent bottling and other servicing.

5.       The License request is to sell and serve alcohol until 2:00 am. Some events will finish after the majority of public transport has closed down, so the reliance for disembarking passengers will fall to private hire coaches, taxis, minicabs etc. which will increase both pollution and noise within our neighbourhood, a conservation area with narrow streets unsuitable for a large influx of new traffic. 

6.        Shad Thames also has no public toilet facilities available for disembarking passengers. 

7.        It is not clear from this application how the applicant can prevent Public Nuisance as they have failed to file any reports/plans. Reports absent from this application, but which we would expect to see, include:

 

  1. No Passage/Route Plan or risk assessment relating to the piers it plans to operate with.
  2. No Noise Impact Assessment or Acoustic Report provided. This is vital given the vast open-deck space. Their brochure states: “Comprehensive sound system with full coverage of all spaces.”
  3. No Light Pollution Assessment – we believe the vessel has significant deck lighting including strobe and laser lights available for use.
  4. No Event Management Plan detailing crowd management of embarkation and disembarkation to include a vehicle movement assessment for passengers arriving and leaving the boat. Crowd Control: Whichever pier/s are used, this is particularly challenging. Many partygoers will come by Coach or by Uber/Taxi/Private Hire vehicles and will be using that transport to get them home late at night. The risk is that adjacent roads may become one giant car park.
  5. No assessment of impact on local amenities/transportation/Emergency Services/Marine Police Unit.

 

Public Safety

1.       There needs to be a clear explanation of where the boat will embark and disembark. Any piers where this will take place need to be properly assessed from a public safety point of view (as well as the noise nuisance and prevention of crime and disorder). One thousand five hundred is a huge number of partygoers to embark or disembark - potentially in highly residential areas.  In addition, any off sales of unfinished alcohol could be consumed in the vicinity of the piers, thus causing more nuisance to residents, including children. 

2.       There would need to be a comprehensive safety assessment in the event of a disaster. A thermal runaway fire onboard could spread to residential or business areas. Residents along the Thames still remember that dreadful night when the Marchioness went down. The Oceandiva is a huge vessel which would need to have tested, detailed evacuation procedures. 

 

Conclusion

This application, if granted, would need to have proportionate, realistic, specific and enforceable conditions that would support the Licensing Objectives. They must be stronger than for other vessels, to reflect its enormous size and potential for causing disturbance.

I believe that the Licensing Objectives would be undermined by licensing a vessel that can hold 1500 or even 1000 partygoers. Off-sales would lead to lingering parties under residents’ windows. Children would be harmed by interrupted sleep. Crime & Disorder are also a risk. It is not enough to say that a dispersal policy will be produced: it needs to be offered for scrutiny by those who know the streets where the problems will occur. Indeed, such consultation with affected communities should have taken place before this licence was put in. 

 

YOUR NAME

YOUR ADDRESS

 

In addition, please take an extra few minutes to lobby the following individuals by emailing them with the copy of your objection. It is especially important for the Mayor’s office to understand the breadth of the objections to Oceandiva. 

 

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan

mayor@london.gov.uk

 

Our ward councillors: 

 

Hamish McCallum

Hamish.McCallum@southwark.gov.uk 

 

Rachel Bentley

rachel.bentley@southwark.gov.uk

 

Emily Tester

emily.tester@southwark.gov.uk