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Borough, Bankside and Bermondsey

The Thames Tideway Tunnel project in Southwark

Why does London need a new sewer?

London currently depends on a 150-year-old sewer system built for a population less than half its current size. As a result, millions of tonnes of raw sewage spills, untreated, into the River Thames each year during rainfall. The Thames Tideway Tunnel has been designed to increase the capacity of the sewage system for future generations by constructing a new 25 km combined sewer under the River Thames to capture, store and convey almost all the raw sewage and rainwater that currently overflows into the river.

Who is building and funding the tunnel?

Thames Tideway Tunnel is the company delivering the Tunnel on behalf of Thames Water. The company is owned by a consortium of investors, and more than two million people have an indirect investment in Tideway through UK pension funds managed by those investors. The tunnel will cost £4.1bn to complete and the cost of the project is being paid for by Thames Water’s 15 million wastewater customers through their bills, which will rise by no more than £25 per year.

Preparatory work on the project began in 2015 and is anticipated to be completed in 2025 to protect the river for at least the next 100 years. View the timeline and find out more information about the tunnel.

How is the tunnel being built in Southwark?

In Southwark, the main construction site for the tunnel is at Chambers Wharf on Chambers Street. This site has been temporarily acquired to facilitate the construction of the tunnel. The site has existing planning permission to build four residential buildings, and the ownership will revert to a developer to construct the new homes once the tunnel is complete The site is currently being used to drive the main tunnel to Abbey Mills Pumping Station in the east and to receive the tunnel boring machines from Kirtling Street in Battersea from the west and Greenwich Pumping Station to the south.

How was planning permission granted?

The project is classified as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) so the role of giving approval rests with the Secretaries of State, rather than the London Borough of Southwark. A special planning application called a Development Consent Order (DCO) was assessed by the National Planning Inspectorate who examined the proposals between September 2013 and March 2014. The Secretaries of State then gave approval for the project by granting the DCO in September 2014.

As part of the planning consent, Tideway entered a legal agreement with the council which commits the project to deliver a variety of processes and projects to mitigate the impact of the construction of the tunnel on the local community. The legal agreement is called a Unilateral Undertaking and forms part of Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act. It was signed on 12 February 2014 with a variation agreed on 1 February 2016.

View the documents below:

By way of a summary, the legal agreement includes the following measures:

  • financial contributions of over £5 million to specific local infrastructure projects in the area adjacent to Chambers Wharf including local schools, play facilities, public realm and transport improvements. The infrastructure projects that this funding is spent on are fixed and specified in the legal agreement.
  • terms of reference for the establishment of a Community Liaison Working Group (CLWG) for local residents to find out the latest information and to raise questions and any concerns; following the efforts of the CLWG, 72% of all materials brought to the works site are now transported by the river which has taken thousands of vehicles off the road and improved the environment for local residents - you can register to take part by emailing
  • terms of reference for the expenditure of a £1m Community Enhancement Fund (CEF) with clear guidance on how local people can submit project ideas, and how a local panel of stakeholders can oversee the expenditure
  • a set of obligations on the contractor to create local employment and skills outcomes for residents in Southwark

View the Thames Tideway community enhancement fund guidelines below:

How are residents protected during the works programme?

If the construction work is affecting you and your family there are a number of ways you can get in touch and get support. If you work shifts, work from home, have a medical condition, are housebound, are vulnerable or are a business suffering a financial loss, let us know. You can get advice on what support is available and how to apply for mitigation/compensation.

You can contact us in the following ways:

You can read more information in this leaflet (PDF, 176kb).

Contact us

If you'd like to discuss any aspect of the project please don’t hesitate to contact us
Senior Planning Officer
07840 647 604

Page last updated: 17 July 2024


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