London Waterway Revival as Construction Boosts Traffic
UK – Despite all talk of the Northern Powerhouse and areas such a Salford seeing massive regeneration projects, it seem the thirst for property, both commercial and private in London and the South East, continues to drive the revival of the River Thames as it aims to return to primacy as the busiest waterway in the country. The construction of DP World’s London Gateway deep water port and logistics project and the development of Tilbury docks are obvious signs that imports and exports are returning to the capital via the river running through its heart.
Now the Port of London Authority (PLA) and its Thames Vision project is seeing progress in some of the wharves which line the waterway, and work is now well underway on a £2.5 million programme of investments at Tower Wharf in Northfleet, Kent, enabling owner Seacon to target emerging opportunities to supply building materials to major construction projects in the London area. Seacon is a private family company handling around three quarters of a million tonnes of cargo through its own terminals annually.
Trading for over half a century, the company handles materials such as forest products, metals and steel coils, much of it dependent on all-weather handling via its covered berth. The investment project has involved the acquisition of land next to Seacon’s original site, delivering an additional 10,000m2 of outside space. By removing old buildings, the company has created additional trailer space essential for its logistics contracts. Meanwhile, in what is a first for the business, it opens up the opportunity for ship-to-barge transfer of materials for onward movement to sites in London.
The project supports delivery of the Thames Vision, the development framework for the waterway which targets greater river use. The Vision is yet another weapon alongside the PLA’s Clean Air Strategy to encourage the low carbon movement of freight between terminals on the Thames whilst keeping lorries off London’s congested roads. Seacon Chairman, James Roth, observed:
“By increasing our land bank, we are realising new opportunities for our business using the river. This expansion enables us to realign the trailer park and create additional outside storage space, opening up opportunities for handling building products and serving key construction projects, where we see significant growth opportunities.
“With this newly expanded site, we will be placing the emphasis on building products, including steel-reinforced concrete bars. We are looking closely at construction projects linked to the Thames and, for the first time, this enhanced site will give us the opportunity to load barges going up to the city. We expect to continue developments here, with further investment of a similar scale over the coming couple of years.”
Our picture shows PLA Chief Executive Robin Mortimer flanked by Chief Finance Officer Julie Tankard and Seacon’s James Roth as they inspect the Northfleet site to see how work is progressing. Robin Mortimer said:
“Seacon’s investment is testament to the attractions and potential of business on the Thames. This expansion is going to leave Seacon ideally placed to facilitate the low carbon, uncongested transport of building materials into London. It’s the right solution at the right time for our growing capital city and a development we wholeheartedly support.”