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Chelsea Harbour is a mixed-use development in Central London, situated on the north bank of the River Thames, in the Sands End area. It lies within the eastern boundary of the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and on the southwestern boundary of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. It contains luxury apartments, a luxury hotel named Wyndham Grand, and offices and showrooms, surrounding a small marina. The development was designed by Architects Moxley, Jenner & Partners, – and developed by Mansford having been sold by P & O & Globe Investment Trust, through their subsidiary, Chelsea Harbour Ltd in 1999. The project management contractors were Bovis Homes Group and the development is now owned by Compco Holdings Ltd. The showrooms were originally named "Chelsea Garden Market", and are now known as the "Chelsea Harbour Design Centre". They consist of almost 66,000 sq.ft gross internal space with three large glazed domes over a galleria. The offices are in two buildings known as "Harbour Yard" and "The Design Centre East". They are marketed by Frost Meadowcroft and Edward Charles & Partners; occupiers including Guess.
"Chelsea Harbour" was built on the site of an ex-British Rail Coal Yard and Victorian-era railway coaling dock on the River Thames. The 20-acre site lies between the Thames and Counter's Creek and is bounded to the west by an "active" railway line on an embankment. Chelsea Harbour was the biggest single construction project in the United Kingdom for decades. The original design was for 16 buildings covering some 14 acres. Only 12 buildings were completed due to a downturn in the UK economy during the construction period.
When planning permission was granted on 15 April 1986, the whole site, including the lock, was derelict. Both the Coal Dock and the lock had been infilled with contaminated materials, which had to be excavated and disposed of. The design required the contractor to reduce the size of the Dock by 1/3rd from the north end, to form the 75-berth Marina; and to re-construct the lock chamber, lock-gates, and cill. Work on-site began in early May 1986, and within twelve months the contractor had excavated the dock, constructed a new north wall, re-puddled the dock floor and renovated the Lock. The site was equipped with 14 tower cranes, and had approximately 1500 personnel onsite during most of the build phase. In April 1987 a "commissioning Champagne Party" was held on two pontoons in the newly flooded "marina" for all the staff directly involved.
Between April 1986 and April 1987, the construction team clocked-up some impressive figures:
- 2,000 piles had been sunk over 30 metres down to the London clay without problems, despite some being within two metres of both a London Underground main electrical supply cable and of a huge Victorian-built storm sewer.
- 250,000 cu. Metres of earth had been excavated and removed from the site;
- 55 acres of floor space were built, using 70,000 cubic metres of concrete and 8,000 tons of steel; one continuous concrete pour on Chelsea Garden Market's foundations totalled over 400 cu. Metres, with mixer trucks queueing-up for several hundred yards along Townmead Road. To ensure an uninterrupted cement supply for the concrete, 5,000 tons of cement were stockpiled in a hulk moored in the London Docks; and a concrete supply company was bought outright, to devote priority of supply to project:
- the reinforced structural concrete frame of "Chelsea Crescent" (which contained 64 apartments as originally designed) was built in just eight weeks;
- three new bridges had been completed onsite, including the largest "thrust bore tunnel" in Europe (over Townmead Road), which was hydraulically jacked into position under an operating rail line in a single weekend;
- two buildings had been completed to "shell & core" status, and the interior spaces were already being occupied by the contractors of incoming tenants;
- a further eight buildings were under construction including "Chambers" and "Chelsea Garden Market";
- The 18-storey "Belvedere" tower was "topped-out" within six months of the start of work. The constructors managed to pour a new floor every four days, with pre-fabricated sub-sections of Rebar built on the ground using "go; no-go"Jigs, using a quick-curing high-strength concrete. Flat soffits with no "downstand beams", and pre-fabricated, steel, wheeled jack-up Forms were placed-, removed-, and re-positioned by the building's tower crane (with the aid of temporary-support platforms cantilevered off the side of the structure), erected in what would become one of the Belvedere's lift shafts
All the buildings – save for the Hotel – were built as "shell & core" contracts, with tenants leasing their spaces from Chelsea Harbour Ltd. through their letting agents, Town & City Properties (Development), and Savills. Once each building was wind and weather-tight, and connected to the external services, tenants commissioned their own contractors for the internal finishings. Bovis project-managed the construction of the Hotel from piling-level to roadway-level, and the remainder of the structure above-ground was completed by a client who had concluded a long lease with Chelsea Harbour Ltd. The Civil and Structural Engineers for the project were Clarke Nicholls and Marcel of Hammersmith London W6
The marina itself is not used commercially but contains luxury yachts and speedboats, and can be accessed from the Thames at high tide. The Lock availability was indicated by a huge hollow sphere rising-&-dropping on a mast topping The "Belvedere", visible for a long way both upstream and down, and connected to a tide gauge by the Lock Gate giving into the Thames. Judging from the present Google Earth view in November 2012, the Development's Owners have apparently decided to reduce the number of available berths from the 1986-planned 75-, to around 50 places
Chelsea Harbour is close to Kings Road, Chelsea and it is reputed to be the residence of a number of UK and international celebrities. The nearby Harbour Club is a fitness and tennis club which owes much fame to its patronage by Diana, Princess of Wales.
Lots Road power station
An adjoining, large-scale development is being planned on the site of Lots Road power station.
The immediate vicinity has been enhanced by Imperial Wharf, a riverside development by St George PLC. The development contains a new London Overground station, Imperial Wharf, which opened on 27 September 2009, providing direct rail links with Clapham Junction and Willesden Junction, as well as Southern services to Milton Keynes Central and East Croydon.
River bus services
- "Boats from Chelsea Harbour Pier". Transport for London. Spring 2009. Retrieved 29 September 2009.
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