Laura Roberts

Thesis title:

Staying Afloat? Making Home and Creating Place on London’s Canals and Rivers (a CASE project with the Canal & Rivers Trust and The Geffrye Museum)


The past 30 years have seen dramatic changes to London’s residential landscapes and neighbourhoods as economic restructuring, programmes of regeneration, and processes of gentrification have transformed once run-down parts of the city into vibrant and desirable places to live in. This coincides with a remarkable transformation of London’s waterways in the last decade, the most visible manifestation of which has been the growth in the number of boats moored along the city’s canals and navigable rivers. According to the Canal & River Trust (CRT), the number of moored boats has doubled since 2010 to over 4,000 vessels and in a recent survey 58% of respondents were using their boats as their primary home (CRT 2016; 2017). It is estimated that as many as 10,000 people live on London’s waterways (London Assembly 2013).In 2013 the London Assembly commissioned a report into mooring on London’s waterways making several key recommendations including increasing capacity for mooring, and improving access and facilities (London Assembly 2013). This research will assist the CRT in better understanding the needs of those who make their homes on London’s canals and rivers and inform CRT’s work with all users to develop waterway environments as sustainable and high-quality places for living, working and enjoying a range of leisure activities. The findings of this timely study will support realisation of the CRT’s London Waterways Partnership Ten Year Strategic Plan (2014) and its recently launched Draft London Mooring Strategy (2017). The project will develop intellectual and theoretical frameworks for understanding contemporary home and place-making strategies along London’s waterways. It will generate new evidence to inform the Trust’s work and assess ways of measuring its impact.

First supervisor:

Alastair Owens

CASE partner:

Canal & River Trust + Geffrye Museum


8 – Urbanisation, Social Change & Urban Transformation