19 January 2023
IWA’s Heritage Advisory Panel supported the North and East London Branch in objecting to a proposal from Canal and River Trust to dispose of the strip of land alongside Commercial Road Lock on the Regent’s Canal. IWA felt that disposal of this land threatened the canal’s heritage setting and amenity value.
Taking Limehouse Basin as a meeting place for boats between the tidal Thames and the inland canals, this lock stands as a gateway to the canal system. The two lock chambers fit neatly into the space between two historic bridges, twin arches of the Commercial Road Bridge and the fine single arch of the docks railway, now DLR. This canalscape is very important to the character of the designated Regent’s Canal Conservation Area and we felt that anything built on the site would inevitably damage these views.
Additionally we believe that it is inappropriate to dispose of any land that forms part of the operational environment for a canal lock. The second chamber is an important heritage feature, and it deserves to be kept to show how the canal operated in its busy commercial days. It is also important to make sure that restoring the second chamber is possible in the future, even if not currently an option.
Objections were also raised by the Friends of Regent’s Canal, the Commercial Boat Operators Association, the Lower Regents Coalition and the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society. The Canal and River Trust responded to the objections saying that they have “carefully considered the various representations made”, and “accept that that the sale of this land on a freehold basis is not in the best interests of the Trust and we will not be progressing it.”