Gravesend pontoon makes waves
PUBLISHED: 09:25 13 January 2011
A planned £2.1million pontoon built off the cast iron Victorian pier would radically change the area's riverscape and is dividing opinion in the town.
Projecting easterly off the 167-year-old pier the pontoon — recommended for receiving planning permission before a meeting held last night — is designed to provide mooring for luxury yachts, the Waverley and Balmoral pleasure boats, international cruise liners and a ferry service.
Captain John Potter runs the existing Gravesham to Tilbury ferry service and his own pleasure boat the Princess Pocahontas and believes the proposal will prove to be a “white elephant”.
He said: “It is a complete and utter waste of money because there have never been people who make money out of owning a pier since time began.
“They think they will have visiting yachts bringing money to the town and the Waverley and Balmoral but those two will only be here a couple of weeks a year and don’t always visit Tilbury at the moment anyway.”
Captain Potter added the wash created by passing river traffic would cause damage to moored yachts quickly discouraging them from staying.
“In principal it is a good idea but take it from someone who has worked on the river for over 20 years, the cost of paying fees and maintenance will be a huge drain on this council and will bring very few people to the town,” he added.
Accessible from the pier, a jetty will be built at the northerly tip of the structure, with a 48 metre brow walkway used to join the jetty with the pontoon, which will sit parallel to the shore as far as St Andrews Gardens.
Gravesham Borough Council has also agreed to put in moorings on the river bank which will allow old sail ships such as the historic Cambria to be moored in the town
Conrad Broadley, a conservative councillor who has campaigned for the town’s riverside heritage to be further exploited is delighted with the plans.
“This is fantastic news. With the new moorings as well we could have four of five sailing barges moored up in the town and the pontoon for international tourists and local sailing enthusiasts.
“Gravesend has such a historic association with the river and I think it is vital that we get back to highlighting this link and using it to promote the town. I think this is an example for the rest of the town and I don’t see why we won’t see similar things at Dartford, Erith or in Essex.”
Permission to build the pontoon will also require listed building consent as the pier is Grade 2 listed and councillors have been recommended to refer the application to the Secretary of State for a final decision.