Thorpe boat dwellers plan to avoid eviction

Kim BriscoeBoat dwellers moored on an island on the outskirts of the city have formed a residential association amid fears they will be evicted.Kim Briscoe

Boat dwellers moored on an island on the outskirts of the city have formed a residential association amid fears they will be evicted.

The floating residents of Thorpe Island, in Thorpe St Andrew, say they have come together to protect their interests and to encourage the responsible use of the island.

The Broads Authority has recently appointed a new enforcement officer to investigate the increasing number of people living on boats on unauthorised moorings, abandoned vessels and unauthorised riverside development on the Broads.

The controversy surrounding boat dwellers permanently moored at the island has been ongoing for years, because they do not have planning permission for resident moorings.

The boaters view the appointment of enforcement officer John Coles, who will be funded for two years by the Planning Delivery Grant, as a fresh move by the Broads Authority to evict them, and so have formed the new association.

Jason Hales, chairman of the new association, said: 'We were delighted when we first discovered the Broads Authority had secured government money to fund a two-year project, to appoint someone to 'research' and 'work with' people living on their boats.

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'Appointing an enforcement officer contradicts the positive approach we were led to believe the authority was taking. To prevent any misunderstanding, we have asked the Broads Authority to clarify the new appointment and the brief for the government money given to fund the project.'

Mr Hales said he understood, from Broads Authority literature, that the enforcement officer's priorities would be Thorpe Island and Haddiscoe Cut.

He added: 'In view of this, we have established a Thorpe Island Residents Association to focus on the good of the island. The issue of live-a-boards on the north side of the island is not new; it is in fact historic.

'We are a small community who add to the diversity of Norwich. We have an established infrastructure and contribute to the local economy.

'We are unclear as to the authority's intentions and have written to them requesting clarification. While we are keen to work with the authority, we fear their authoritarian approach is cause for concern and may restrict good working relations.'

The Broads Authority said it had received complaints from nearby homeowners about the boats moored at the island, including residential vessels.

The authority's chief executive John Packman said: 'The formation of a residents' association will help communication between those who live aboard boats on Thorpe Island and the Broads Authority. We're keen to work with them to resolve long-standing planning issues.'

The Broads Authority is holding a parish pop-in session to provide the opportunity to talk to local residents on Wednesday, March 31, between 2pm and 7pm, at the Dussindale Centre.

Do you have a story for the Evening News? Contact reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email