Feasibility Study of the Regeneration of Lot’s Ait


Sponsor: Borough of Hounslow IMG_6059
Sponsor Liaison: Joyce Ip
Student Team:

Andrew Bielecki,
Patrick Donaghey,
Megan Hanshaw,
Rhaine Sziy

Abstract: The purpose of this project was to conduct a feasibility study for the London Borough of Hounslow Council to identify the market, technical and organizational, financial, and social components of regenerating the island Lot’s Ait. The project team investigated the impact and feasibility of creating a boating skills academy, implementing watersports, and creating an incubator space. We conducted interviews with stakeholders, distributed a boating skills survey, and conducted an on-site analysis of the island in order to make a recommendation to the Council. The information gathered will aid the Council in facilitating a regeneration project on the island that will have the maximum social and economic return.

Feasibility Study of the Regeneration of Lots Ait

Feasibility Study of the Regeneration of Lots Ait_Presentation

Executive Summary


Our project goal is to conduct a feasibility study of the regeneration of Lot’s Ait through the creation of a boating skills academy, implementation of watersports, and creation of incubator spaces. Lot’s Ait is a small island located on the River Thames. Our sponsor is the Hounslow Council who has determined three goals for the project: to grow business in the area, increase skill level, and regenerate the overall borough. To reach these goals we conducted a feasibility study for the regeneration of the island that investigates the four components of feasibility including the market, technical and organizational requirements, financial aspects, and social impact. The project team also made recommendations to the Council based on our findings.


Hounslow is one of the outer boroughs of London and is the 18th largest borough. It stretches from central London in the east to Heathrow Airport in the west (Hounslow Council, 2017). The Hounslow borough is divided into five major areas, one being the ward Brentford. Brentford is a historic port town located on the River Thames. Its usage as a port town is a result of the Grand Union Canal intersecting with the River Thames, an area that has heavy boat traffic. The River Thames is significant to London and the borough and is the focus of many regeneration projects happening nearby.

Regeneration is increasingly important to the Hounslow Council and they consider various projects that will benefit the community. The regeneration department has goals in place to improve the Borough which include to encourage the growth of businesses, increase overall skill level, and provide community infrastructure to the borough. Regeneration is defined as a set of activities that reverses economic, social, and physical decline and it should secure long-term change in a community by increasing employment and moving community individuals from dependence to independence.

The boating industry has a large impact on the United Kingdom economy and is growing annually. In the United Kingdom, the super yacht and small commercial marine industry alone have direct revenues of £3 billion and overall contributes £6.2 billion to the GDP of the UK (British Marine, 2016a). London specifically has significant boat usage on its rivers, with almost 5,000 boats utilizing the waterways in 2010 (Canal and River Trust, 2017). Many boaters do not have skills to repair their boats and thus use boat repairs shop like John’s Boat Works. This company is located on the island of Lot’s Ait in the Borough of Hounslow. The business sees the opportunity to teach boating skills and wants to create a boating skills academy.

As an island nation, watersports are also prevalent in the UK both along the coasts and on the country’s rivers. In 2015, 3.2 million adults in the UK participated in a boating or watersport activity totaling nearly 19 million boating trips and using one million watercrafts (British Marine, 2016a). Watersports include sailing, paddleboarding, kayaking, yacht cruising, and spending leisure time on the beach. Active360 is a company in London dedicated to stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) and watersports skills training. SUP is the fastest growing watersport in the world and Active360 is at the forefront of developing SUP in London (Think360 Sports Ltd, 2011). Active 360 currently has four locations along the Thames and sees potential in creating another location on Lot’s Ait to teach and increase participation in watersports.

The number of businesses in Hounslow grew by 20% and the number of people employed in the Borough increased by 12% from 2009 to 2014 (Hounslow Council, 2017). Small businesses make up most of the businesses within the Borough. Furthermore, with a growth of 23% from 2011 to 2014, Hounslow has the highest growth of micro businesses in all of West London. One way to further progress the growth of small businesses is with business incubators, which are an effective way of enhancing the success of startups. Some benefits of being part of an incubator include possibilities for funding, more affordable resources and equipment, and better public relations and advertising for their business. Currently, there are 300 incubators in the UK, which support about 12,000 businesses in total (De’Lacey, 2014). Craft-focused incubators integrate people’s business skills with their unique craft talents. In addition, they build upon traditional skills that have been passed down through the generations and keep these skills alive (Hatch, 2017).


Objectives and Methods

We defined feasibility in three components: market issues, technical and organizational requirements, and financial overview. From these components we investigated the social effect on stakeholders. A market issue is the area of a feasibility study to address potential market opportunities. If there is demand then a venture can be pursued. Technical and organizational requirements deal with the logistics of technical and organizational aspects including infrastructure, government regulations, and environmental constraints. Lastly, financial overview includes economic sustainability and funding. The social value is analysed in terms of the effects of the three components and looks at the opinions of stakeholders. To achieve these goals and determine feasibility the project team has identified the following objectives:

  1. To evaluate the need for a boating skills academy by looking at the relationship between boating and the boroughs of London
  2. To evaluate the potential for incubators to further encourage the growth of small businesses in order to promote craft skills
  3. To identify constraints and impacts
    1. of creating a boating skills academy on Lot’s Ait in Hounslow
    2. of implementing watersports and relocating the pontoon from Kew Bridge to Lot’s Ait
    3. of the creation of additional incubator spaces on Lot’s Ait
  4. To offer recommendations for future study
    1. into a boating skills academy
    2. into implementing watersports and  the relocation of a pontoon for watersports theory training
    3. the creation of additional incubator spaces on Lot’s Ait
    4. other options for the regeneration of the island


Over the course of the project we conducted interviews with a variety of people and groups including: members of the Hounslow Council; stakeholders of the island, pontoon, watersports training, and incubators; other boating skills academies and other incubators; and external funders. We also attended a regeneration summit and listened to a series of presentations about regeneration in Hounslow, with time for discussion at the end. We performed an on-site evaluation of Lot’s Ait and the pontoon at Kew Bridge, and supplemented that information with GIS maps. Lastly, we distributed a boating survey to determine the skill level of boaters in the area and the interest in a boating skills academy.

Findings and Discussion

The findings are a result of analysing themes and key issues defined in interviews, analysing quantitative survey data, and completing an on-site and GIS analysis of the island and surrounding area. The following infographic shows a visual summary of the findings.









Regeneration of Lot’s Ait

In terms of the market for regeneration, we determined there is a rise in regeneration in Brentford, specifically on the Brentford High Street and waterfront areas. Our research showed that the regeneration of Lot’s Ait would continue the snowball effect of regeneration and have a positive impact on the entire borough. There are many technical and organizational requirements with a project on Lot’s Ait. The island could be regenerated to satisfy the Section 106 requirement of local private developers, which would reduce expenses and planning complexity for the landowner. PLA permission is also required to do any construction and the Nature Conservation Area on the island needs to be redefined, which could cause time delays. Financially there is already permission for a single story expansion, and additional space on the island could be utilised. Using all the space on the island would maximise profit, however further study will be needed into space requirements and types of buildings needed to implement the projects. Overall, any regeneration of the island will get the community involved and engaged in the history of it. The island has been inaccessible for many years and currently is only accessible to those visiting John’s Boat Works, thus regeneration of the island would involve the community and bring more foot traffic to the island. There are mixed views from stakeholders about the regeneration: the Council, John’s Boat Works, landlord, and GLA all see different potentials that would have social and economic returns.

Boating Skills Academy

Our boating skills survey showed the demand for a boating skills academy.  Over 60% of the 128 respondents have some interest in an academy. In addition to this many parties we interviewed mentioned a need for the growth of boating and craft skills within both the Borough and London. Organizationally we identified a potential host of a satellite academy who has an existing class structure. The space for the academy and necessary equipment will need further research. Financially, we found the Greater London Authority would be interested in funding the academy. Further research into the economic sustainability of the academy will be needed. Socially the skills academy would have a big benefit: it would close the skills gap, create jobs, and reverse the decline in boating culture in Brentford, and thus benefit the community. The opinions of the Council, the island landlord, and John’s Boat Works must be integrated in order for the implementation of a skills academy to be possible.

Implementation of Watersports

In Hounslow and London there is a market for watersports in terms of both recreation and tourism. The implementation of watersports on the island would bring foot traffic to it and make it more accessible to residents. There is currently a pontoon at Kew Bridge that could be relocated to the island, however the implementation of watersports on the island is not contingent on moving it. This pontoon has safety and accessibility issues at its current location and could be used more effectively at Lot’s Ait. Moving this pontoon or creating a new launch pad at the island would need PLA permission and could be expensive. The tides play a factor in the functionality of the pontoon and would need to be explored further. We identified a potential funder to move the pontoon and maintain it, the Brentford Community Sports Trust. We also found that watersports on the island would bring in funding from rentable space and classes and would create more activities to do in the Borough and attract residents and visitors alike. There are many stakeholders involved in both the relocation of the pontoon and implementation of watersports and their viewpoints would have to be examined before any further steps are taken.

Craft-Focused Incubators

Through our research we found that there is a significant skills gap in craft skills. A craft-focused incubator would help residents improve their skill level, give them the opportunity to teach skills to others, and create a collaborative learning environment. There is also a demand for space in London that people can use to pursue their hobbies and small businesses. We identified several businesses who would use this space however more research needs to be done to identify others. Also, John’s Boat Works already has an incubator space and provides tools and equipment to the small-businesses. Other small-businesses could use these tools, and additional equipment would be needed if more businesses were added. The incubator space would also be more enticing to rent than other spaces as it is a cheap start-up space and there would be a strong community built around it. There is also a successful craft-focused incubator called the Blackhorse Workshop that could be a case study for the incubator on the island. The GLA funds this existing incubator and said in an interview they would be interested in funding a similar project on Lot’s Ait. The Council, landlord, and John’s Boat Works are all interested in this project and the community could see significant benefit from this project.


We determined three individual scenarios for the island: the creation of a boating skills academy, implementation of watersports on Lot’s Ait, and creation of a craft-focused incubator space. For each scenario we used our feasibility findings. The scenarios could be realized individually on the island, or combined. The figure below shows the possible combinations of these scenarios.



Figure 1: Venn Diagram of Scenarios

Our final recommendation is to look further into the feasibility of each scenario, specifically Scenario D, the “Ideal Situation”. This scenario would include watersports, a boating skills academy, and craft-focused incubators. The boating skills academy and incubators could share a workshop space. Logistically this could work because the skills academy could use the space at night and the incubators could use it during the day. The business incubator personnel could teach the classes at the skills academy. Also, there would be a shared meeting room that could function as a classroom setting for the academy. The watersports training could also use this space and would have a pontoon or dock to launch from. This would bring in the most profit but space-wise could prove to be difficult. We also identified other directions for future research from ideas given to us that we did not have time to research. This report will serve as a baseline feasibility study for the Hounslow Council to do further research based on our considerations.