13 May 2023
A new article in The Times explains the challenges faced by residents if the Oceandiva is granted a license when it reapplies to Newham this summer.
The article includes quotes from STRA's Communications officer, Paul Crosbie and our ward councillor, Rachel Bentley.
For those without a Times subscription, the article is posted below:
March 2023 Update
Oceandiva withdrew their initial licensing application in February 2023.
The Port of London Authority expects the 1500 passenger party boat to be towed across the North Sea from its Amsterdam shipyard and arrive in London next month, where final fittings will take place.
Newham understands a new application for the vital alcohol licence to be submitted in June. These dates may change and STRA will inform everyone immediately more is known. The boat still intends to use Butler’s Wharf as its Central London base for embarkation and disembarkation and static exhibitions on as many as 140 days a year. The latest delay in the official launch, the third to hit its plans, comes after delays with the construction of the boat forced Oceandiva to withdraw its application.
Unfortunately the withdrawal of the licensing application - which should have been heard over two days next week on 30 and 31 March - means the record 1000 objections sent in to Newham Council will no longer count and we will have to resubmit our comments and start again with the ‘Stop the Oceandiva’ campaign when the new application is filed. While this may be a setback, it provides the opportunity to build even greater opposition as we learn more of the impact the giant 87m long boat will have on communities along the river. Local MP Neil Coyle is the latest to lend his support to the fight and has contacted the Mayor of Newham to “record my objection and deep reservations of my constituents and the local community in Southwark”.
Here is a banner that we are hoping will become commonplace as momentum builds against the boat.
31 January 2023
If you submitted a comment to Newham Council about Oceandiva's Licensing Application, you should recently have received a new package of documents from Newham, including a new Pier Management Plan for Butler's Wharf. If you didn't receive the documents, you can download the Pier Management Plan below.
After reading the documents, should you still have concerns about the operation of Oceandiva at Butler's Wharf, STRA encourages you to respond to the email from Newham by 6 February, 2023 and let Newham know that your concerns have not been allayed by the new plans and your objection still stands. We recommend this even if you do not plan to speak at the upcoming hearing.
You should reply to email@example.com. Do not forget to include your name and mailing address.
The Oceandiva hearing is currently scheduled for 30 and 31 March, 2023. However, this date could change again. STRA will post any updates here.
Should you have any questions, please contact STRA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
12 January 2023
Newham Council have announced that they have once again moved the licencing hearing for Oceandiva. The new hearing dates are 30 and 31 March, 2023.
The new pier management plans, originally scheduled for release on 11 January are now said to be coming on 23 January. They will be sent to anyone who submitted a comment about the application to Newham. STRA will also post the new plan for Butler's Wharf here as soon as we receive it.
Newham Licencing Hearing Update
19 December 2022
Newham Council have sent letters about the upcoming Oceandiva hearing to residents who submitted representations during the consultation process.
If you didn't receive an invitation letter, you can see a copy below.
Newham is asking that anyone who wants to speak at the hearing alert them by 6 January.
STRA is working with other riverside residents' groups to coordinate our presentation for the hearing. If you are planning to speak at the hearing and would like to be included in any planning meetings, please contact STRA at email@example.com.
If you would like to nominate a representative of STRA to speak on your behalf at the hearing, please write back to Newham and include the following language:
I nominate a representative of the Shad Thames Residents' Association (STRA) to speak on my behalf.
19 October 2022
Oceandiva have supplied answers to the questions submitted by our councillors on behalf of residents following the public meeting at St James Church on 21 September, 2022.
Q1: Is there a barge that you are planning to moor against for the static parties? If so, where will this barge be located?
A: We do not have plans for static events whilst moored against barges.
Q2: Please confirm and share the response from the Met Police on the pier plan.
A: A Pier Management Plan (PMP) has been submitted to the Metropolitan Police for their consideration.
Any comments or observations from the Metropolitan Police will inform the final version of the PMP which will be submitted as part of our disclosure 4 weeks before the hearing. We hope to be meeting with the Metropolitan Police in the next 2 weeks.
(See third item below for the PMP as it currently reads).
Q3: Please see the ad for the PEA Sustainability Awards which indicates that the main group of attendees will be boarding in just 30 minutes at BW pier at an event planned for December https://www.peaawards.com/attend/ Aside from the potential impact on residents from noise/Uber and taxi drop-offs in surrounding streets, access to the pier is tight, congested and requires passing local businesses, using the Thames Path, a public right of way, and Butlers Wharf Jetty which is NOT owned by Oceandiva/Thames Luxury Charters, I understand. Are there any health and safety rules/policing concerns/right of way/leaseholder issues that should govern how many people should be permitted to access Butlers Wharf jetty in any given time period? Hundreds of people in 30 minutes seems extreme.
A: The Embarkation/Disembarkation processes, capabilities and capacities are part of the submitted PMP. Current ‘live’ and tested capacities i.e., those achieved by existing operators, are 500 guests within 30 minutes and 1,500 within 1.5 hours.
Our plans are not outside of current achieved capacities.
Q4: We’re told it’s “unlikely” that there will be disembarkation at BW pier - what does that mean, surely the clients’ requirements will determine this? OD’s own advertising promises it! What is the basis for this statement that was made by the MD of TLC? We note that BW is one of the few central London piers the OD can use.
A: Of course, the point of disembarkation is agreed with clients, however our agreement with the operators of Butler’s Wharf is that it closes at 23:00 hours and the last disembarkation is at 22:30. Therefore a disembarkation after these times cannot be offered to clients. This is in line with how Butler’s Wharf operates with existing vessels.
The Operators of Butler’s Wharf, Thames Luxury Charters (TLC), have responsibility for securing their premises.
Q5: We’re also told that the BW pier is “almost always” locked at 11 pm. Is there any guarantee that the BW pier gate is locked at 11 pm, with last disembarkation at 10.30? Is this just established usage (ie can be changed by the owner of the pier at any time) or is there some kind of lease agreement/right of way issue that determines this timing?
A: Part of TLC’s code of practice and day to day operations is that the gates are locked by 23:00. This restriction that has been in place for many years and will continue to be respected by Oceandiva London.
Q6: Even a mass disembarkation around 10.30 could be hugely disruptive, given the unprecedented size of the boat and the fact that BW’s location make it one of the most central of all of the piers OD is claiming to be able to use. It’s impossible to see any way that the number of people who choose to leave the boat at BW could ever be guaranteed and regulated/enforced. Can we demand it as a licensing condition that BW will not be used as a disembarkation point at any stage of any evening, including New Year’s Eve when the area and Thameside is already incredibly busy?
A: Currently 3 vessels operate at Butlers Wharf and can disembark all at the same time, with the last disembarkation at 22:30pm. at any one time. Therefore, operations of the Oceandiva London are not without precedent. The residents should note that all current operations, restrictions, and requirements will continue to be respected. When the Oceandiva London is present, no other boats will be embarking or disembarking at Butler’s Wharf.
The Licensing Sub-Committee is entitled to attach proportionate conditions to the premises license with regards to disembarkation in line with the objectives of the Licensing Act 2003.
Q7: Has a simulation of the embarkation/disembarkation been carried out?
A: The day-to-day operations of TLC at Butlers Wharf already have guests embarking and disembarking from the existing 3 vessels, at the same time if all 3 boats are in use. As per Q6, when the Oceandiva London is present, no other boats will be embarking or disembarking at Butler’s Wharf.
Q8: In order to provide meaningful evidence to Newham Licensing, can you confirm what other CENTRAL London piers have definitively given permission (that we can see in writing) for the Oceandiva to embark/disembark passengers?
A: Discussions are in progress with several Central London Piers. We will disclose the updated position as part of our evidence for the hearing of this application.
Q9: If disembarkation is permitted, what enforceable licensing conditions can require OD to take full responsibility for the safe, quiet and sustainable dispersal of an unprecedented volume of party-goers out of the area at any time of day or night, on any day?
A: This is addressed in the PMP. The Licensing Sub-Committee is entitled to attach proportionate conditions to the premises license to promote the licensing objectives in the Licensing Act 2003 which are: the prevention of public nuisance; the prevention of crime and disorder; public safety, and the protection of children from harm.
Q10: The licence application says that “”notices shall be prominently displayed at all exits requesting passengers to respect the needs of local residents and businesses and to leave the area quietly”. Even if disembarkation has to take place before 11 pm, this could produce an unprecedented (apart from the Queue) flood of people moving through Shad Thames’ narrow alleys and streets and a total log jam of Uber/taxi/other traffic in local streets directly
beneath local residents often single-glazed windows.
A: We note your concerns, which will be responded to in the PMP which will be disclosed as stated above.
Q11: Please clarify what you plan to do about people misbehaving on board who need to be ejected from the boat or people who try to join but are too drunk to be let on. Their licence application indicates that they intend to “ejected at the nearest available pier”, therefore becoming our problem.
A: Our client has policies and procedures in place that address this eventuality and would see a proportional response to the severity of any issue including:
I. Alerting the marine police, who would come alongside the vessel
II. Alerting the police to attend the next available pier where the person / persons would be disembarked
Any ejection is effected with consideration for the safety of the passenger and other members of the public, and in the presence of the police.
Q12: The wording is from OD London’s own advertising. Greenwich/Excel Centre/Canary Wharf are not in the “heart of the City” and some of these piers are not “pleasure boat” piers but primarily passenger boat piers. Where exactly do OD London intend to hold “static events” and what licensing restrictions can be placed on this, especially timing and the use of outdoor deck areas?
A: We expect the majority of static events will be in east London rather than in the heart of the city. We have dealt with the Licensing Sub-Committee’s power to attach conditions above.
Q13: What licensing restrictions can be placed on the activities that can take place on the open decks? The licence application indicates that all “regulated entertainment” will happen indoors. Does that also mean covered decks that are open at the side? It also appears that there is plenty of unregulated music etc that can happen without a licence! Current party boats sail down the Thames blasting music. Why should the Oceandiva be any different if that’s what customers want and what is to stop them doing this when having a static event at BW?
A: The Licensing Sub-Committee has the discretion to attach proportionate conditions to the premises license to protect local residents from public nuisance, including noise from music. License conditions impose legally enforceable requirements.
Q14: What monitoring of the behaviour of OD passengers and their impact on the local community is OD going to pay for? They say they will have CCTV on board and security personnel, what about paying for additional CCTV and security personnel on BW pier, BW jetty and the main, residential through routes from the boat to local public transport?
A: As acknowledged in the question, Oceandiva London has HD CCTV installed on the vessel that will be monitored by a Security Industry Authority (“SIA”) licensed operative on the vessel.
Security and marshalling for events will be provided by:
a. 1 SIA-licensed operative per 100 guests to manage and marshal guests for events that have alcohol
b. 1 SIA-licensed operative per 150 guests for events where no alcohol is provided
c. On the piers – The Pier Management Plan will indicate how many SIA-licensed operatives and marshals will be at the pier itself to manage disembarkation.
d. The Pier Management Plan will include security requirements for security/marshals on the pier.
e. There will always be 1 person with a decibel meter to ensure noise from music is monitored and managed.
f. It is not proposed that Oceandiva London should install CCTV in the public realm. Oceandiva London has no statutory or property right to do so, and is likely to be prevented from doing so under data protection law.
Q15: Will they share their passage plan – they need to submit this to the PLA?
A: Oceandiva London will share this plan, which has to be approved by the PLA.
Q16: Will they share the evacuation plan which has to submitted to the MCA?
A: Oceandiva London will share this plan, which has to be approved by the MCA.
Q17: What is the Millennium Tower pier to be used for, if they have already got permission to use this pier which I’m not sure they have, why can it not be used as a Central London base and are there any time limits on its use?
A: The Millennium Tower Pier is a 24-hour pier managed by London River Services, part of TFL. Operation of this pier is by a pre booking system which is on a first come, first served basis. If Oceandiva London meets the requirements, we will be able to use the pier, within the standard pier code of conduct and operational restrictions. We do not intend to host static events from Millennium Tower Pier.
Q18: Will they confirm they are planning 40 static events a year at Butlers Wharf – I think this is the reason they need Butlers Wharf?
A: At this stage, Oceandiva London does not have bookings for 40 static events at Butler’s Wharf Pier. While our operation, and the rules set out by TLC for use of the Pier, can support this volume if there is the demand from clients, we do not anticipate hosting large numbers of static events from this pier.
Q19: Will they publish or allow to be publish their embarkation and disembarkation plan for Butlers Wharf? (The one being given to the police – I suspect this will only deal with the physical boarding and leaving the boat, not what happens to people afterwards.)
A: This is included in the Pier Management Plan as referred to above. Please refer to question 2.
Q20: Will they publish the advice they are giving to clients regarding transport, specifically those disembarking from Butler’s Wharf? It may simply be a general comment in T&Cs about being nice to neighbours and mentioning London Bridge station, and bus stops, and make no comment on taxis or the control on crowds on the riverside.
A: This is part of the PMP as referred to above. The security / marshalling staff will also provide guidance on onward transportation, if needed, as stated in question 14. Transport guidance is already being collated and
will be presented in an easily accessible format to clients, including a scannable QR code.
Q21: Do they have a transport plan, they did for the Old Swan Pier? This looked at traffic flow in the area.
A: A local transport plan will be included in the Pier Management Plan.
Q22: Are they planning a new gangway at Butler’s Wharf Pier?
A: There are no plans for an additional gangway at Butler’s Wharf. The existing capacity is sufficient.
Q23: Where will disembarkation take place for the PEA environmental awards on 7 Dec ( incidentally they are sponsoring this event and using it as a trial run so PEA are not paying the £100k fee)? The PEA adverts claim carriages 11.30-12.30 and mentions Butlers Wharf.
A: The invitation for the PEA Awards was issued by the event organiser in error which includes the incorrect pier for embarkation and disembarkation. The correct pier is Tower Pier. The event will not disembark from Butler’s Wharf pier.
Q24: Will they clarify and confirm disembarkation at Butlers Wharf will be 10.30 with the pier closed at 11pm? This was not clear on Wednesday evening.
A: Yes, these are the current operating times for Butler’s Wharf and as confirmed in response to Question 4.
Q25: Is it correct that the boat is a hybrid and has back up diesel engines whichwould be needed when the boat was docking, ie at Butlers Wharf? The procedure takes a great deal of power out of the electric batteries. Tower Bridge is already the most polluted part of the Thames, according to a Cross River Partnership study. Will they reveal when/if backup diesel will be used? Because of this potential problem, most other operators planning new boats
will use hydrogen fuel.
A: Oceandiva London is a fully electric, CO2 neutral vessel. Under the Maritime and Coastguard Agency requirements to operate in category C waters i.e. Tidal, a backup generator is required to provide power if required. In the case of Oceandiva London, this requirement is met by a bio-fuelled generator.
Oceandiva London will be the only boat on the Thames with a Platinum Green Award as granted to the vessel by The Green Awards - a voluntary quality assessment certification scheme that inspects and certifies ships. Indeed, Oceandiva is the only platinum vessel in the world, as the vessel was built according to principles of sustainability.
The scope of the award encompasses:
i. noise and light pollution
3 October 2022
The deadline for comments on Oceandiva's licence application remains Friday, 7 October.
If you have already submitted an objection and received an update from Newham, stating either that the application has been updated or that a Pier Management Plan has been issued for Butler's Wharf, it is very important that you respond with the following message:
The concessions around hours and the conditions outlined in the Pier Management Plan are still insufficient to support the Licensing Objectives. I wish to reassert my objection, and the objection I submitted to the original application still stands. It was not only the issue of hours that concerned me, but the impact on my life in terms of Noise Nuisance and Crime and Disorder, during any operating hours.’
Also, the licensing hearing which was meant to be held on 2 November is in the process of being rescheduled for a date in December. We will update resident once the new date is confirmed.
29 September 2022
Oceandiva has published a proposed Pier Management plan for Butler's Wharf:
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:
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.
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:
If this link doesn’t work, you can visit Newham’s Licensing Portal:
And search for this application:
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:
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. 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.
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.
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
Our ward councillors:
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