How enterprising developers are reinventing the houseboat

Published online: Apr 04, 2011 News Graham Norwood - www.independent.co.uk
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For an island with over 10,000 miles of coastline, hundreds of major rivers and a proud maritime tradition, Britain has been reluctant to actually live on water - at least, until now.

 

Controversy over new homes encroaching on green-belt land in some areas and high-profile disputes between house builders and existing residents are leading enterprising developers, councils and regeneration bodies to considerwater-borne communities.

These are not ad hoc collections of houseboats, Amsterdam-style, but fully functioning, master-planned communities built on floating pontoons that rise to avoid flooding and ease development congestion on land. The largest scheme in the pipeline is in Glasgow, where the urban-renewal quango Scottish Enterprise has a £30m plan for the city's Prince's Dock, including a U-shaped "floating street" of apartments and houses, shops, three-storey office buildings and a 150-berth marina.

Solar panels and ground-source heat pumps will provide green power, while recycling and landfill waste is to be collected by barges. There will be a "boat pool" for residents and workers to hire once the scheme is completed in 2015.

"There's been a noticeable shift in attitudes," says David Beard, of Floating Concepts, the company selected to create the Glasgow project. "Well-publicised floods in recent years have changed the general public's view - we've had interest from as far as Mexico and Australia in the technology behind our idea.

"Planners are following suit. Five years ago they were terrified of the concept, yet now they want whole floating developments."

Futuristic? Perhaps, but some of the world is already ahead of Britain on this. In the Dutch town of Maasbommel there are 50 new two-storey water-borne homes, while in Rotterdam there is a large floating pavilion showcasing technology to be used in the construction of 2,500 floating houses elsewhere in the Netherlands by 2018.

There are over 400 floating homes in five marinas at Sausalito on the San Francisco Bay, close to the Golden Gate Bridge. In Portland, Oregon, and in Seattle, de facto communities have grown, as individual floating-home owners have created shops and workplaces on the water. Melbourne, in Australia, is considering floating leisure parks and sports fields as well as homes, while more primitive floating homes have been built in Asia for half a century.

Read more at
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/house-and-home/property/floating-assets-how-enterprising-developers-are-reinventing-the-houseboat-2258773.html

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