Sunday, 14 August 2022

College’s houseboat plan sunk

SHIPLAKE College has been refused permission to permanently moor a houseboat at the southern edge of its estate.

It wanted the unnamed vessel, owned by Mark Thrift, to remain in order to deter thieves from breaking into its boathouse a short distance upstream on the River Thames.

It told South Oxfordshire District Council that the boat had been allowed to stay there for more than a decade so it qualified for a certificate of lawful usage, effectively granting planning consent.

Headmaster Gregg Davies said this could be proven as it had appeared on several episodes of ITV’s crime drama Lewis since 2004.

He said: “I have been headmaster for 14 years and in all that time... this has been a mutually beneficial arrangement because we have more than 100 rowing boats stored close to the river and well away from any offices or residential property.”

But the Environment Agency’s records showed more than one boat had been moored on that reach in that time and not just a single vessel.

It had also investigated several complaints of boats overstaying but added there was no sign of any single one staying in the exact spot for a significant period.

The district council said the college failed to provide “clear and unambiguous” proof that a boat had been moored there for more than an unbroken decade, regardless of whether it had permission to do so and its planning committee refused the application.

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