No promised moorings at Nestlé factory development

Published: Wednesday, 26 April 2023

THE planned redevelopment of the huge Nestlé factory site in Hayes was put out for public consultation in 2016/2017, writes Andrew Bailes.

Nestle Site Plan

And there was a clear implication that space would or at least could be made available for on-line mooring.

Once known by boaters as 'Hayes Cocoa', the wharfs alongside the Grand Union Canal operated until 1959. The factory site gradually fell into disuse and partial abandonment and was finally closed in 2014.

Nestle from the SouthBoats on site-plan

Note the line of six moored boats in the top of the image of the proposed site-plan above. And boats and canoes in the further image.

These were reproduced in publicity photographs which employ CGI to present an idealised 'Better By Water' lifestyle to local residents, councillors and potential investors. Some of these are still visible as 6ft high printed images on the temporary fence that screens the site from Nestle Avenue.

In fact, as evidenced by my photographs taken in a recent visit, the present welcome for any potential moorers is pretty bleak.

Nestle from Road BridgeA steel fence high enough to prevent access to the quayside (but not low enough to prevent a toddler from tumbling underneath) now lines the canal where once a Dutch Barge and narrowboats were optimistically pictured.

The public representation of a canal-facing, boater-friendly redevelopment is unlikely to have gone unnoticed by CaRT.

It's representatives were present at consultations in which ‘public access to the canal’, the establishment of ‘green space’ and a ‘canoe store’ were considered sound promises. There was one suggestion made for the digging of a marina. It’s good to think that boaters may have been represented at that particular public meeting.

Nestle from TowpathSuggestion for a marina

The last stretch of quayside before the railway bridge is yet to be finished. Perhaps we could hold out hope for the construction of the stepped paving which descends to the waterside, in the computer-generated publicity, as seen enjoyed by happy clip-art cyclists and presumably offering access for the promised canoes.

Perhaps CaRT or Hillingdon Council will see fit to enquire as to the fulfilment of this ambitious project’s promises of benefits to the existing local community and environment. But then again, perhaps not.