Marina residents could be evicted

Published: Thursday, 13 August 2009

RESIDENT boaters at a marina could be evicted as it does not have the necessary planning permission for people to live permanently on boats.

Enforcement action had been threatened by Huntingdonshire District Council against people living on boats at Hartford Marina, in breach of the council's planning rules.

There are over 100 boats moored in the marina on which people live permanently, and it is believed that should action be taken and be successful, a precedent could be set affecting thousands of resident boaters in marinas across the country.

At this marina accommodation is classed as holiday accommodation, and there is a planning proviso that boats should not be lived in all year round as a main residence. In fact many marinas enforce this rule, stipulating the maximum number of nights people are allowed to stay on their boats.

However at Hartford Marina, residents have been there so long that the council could now have difficulty enforcing breaches of planning rules.

Cllr Jason Ablewhite, who chaired a working group of councillors to investigate the situation, remarked that he could not pre-judge the outcome of a development management panel meeting, but told:

"I think common sense will prevail. I don't think there is any doubt it will have to involve some form of planning consent, whatever happens.

"There is no national policy for people living on boats, including rules to protect such residents, and I hope the district council would play a key role in creating a national policy."

The working group is recommending that a policy on permanent occupation at marinas be drawn up, and that owners or occupiers are then invited to apply for planning permission.

It also wants to see no action taken against residents in the meantime if they provide information about occupancy so that council tax can be collected, and no further development takes place at the marina without consent.