Part of the River Thames in Hampton has been reopened, thanks to enforcement action by Richmond Council, by removing unlawful piles and pontoons.

The council has been pursuing enforcement action regarding numerous planning breaches at Hampton Riviera Boatyard in Hampton for a number of years.

The owner built a number of piles and pontoons out over the River Thames without planning permission and began marketing the site as a residential marina.

The owners of the land and affected boats were given notice that enforcement action was to commence and any boats not removed would be towed away.

Luxury floating residences were let with long term mooring rights and the site was landscaped with tropical plants and sun-decks over the river.

The Council served a number of enforcement notices, requiring the owner to remove the unauthorised works - the owner appealed and lost.

The owner still failed to remove the piles and pontoons. Therefore, the Council elected to take action.

Together with the Met Police, River Police, the Environment Agency and a team of marine engineers, including dive specialists, the unauthorised piles and pontoons were removed.

The team forcibly removed and towed pontoons away from site. The piles, which were driven into the river-bed were then cut off at bed-level by the underwater dive team and hoisted from the river. Electrical and water services which fed the pontoons were disconnected and removed.

Despite a last-ditch attempt from the owner to stop the enforcement, Kingston County Court dismissed his appeal and from July 30, work began to remove the structures.

Councillor Martin Elengorn, Richmond Council Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “Rules are there for a reason.

“The river is not an extension to anyone’s property. The owner knew he was breaking the law. He was given the opportunity to remove the offending structures himself. He chose not to.”

The work is now complete and has resulted in this part of the river being reopened and the natural riverbank reinstated.

Martin said: “I would like to thank those partner organisations who worked with us to restore our river for everyone to enjoy.”

The Council will now charge the cost of the works back to the owner of the land. Further enforcement action is now being considered in relation to the use of the site.

“This has been a long process. Over the years we have heard from many residents that they were unhappy with these illegal development works. Not only did they block the river, cut off the riverbank, but they also caused serious damage to the natural environment.” Martin added.