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It seems that the principal impetus of moving migrants onto barges like the Bibby Stockholm is to save the costs of renting property in which to accommodate the migrants on dry land.

Rental costs are no doubt high as anyone will know.

But what is the legality of mooring semi permanent barges such as the Bibby Stockholm off the British coast, whether for the government or for private citizenry?

If anyone is allowed to construct and moor barges like that off the coast and then not have to own or rent property to inhabit, then what stops private citizens from residing on such structures?

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    What makes you think they don't? House boats are a thing, at least here in the US where people live on boats full time, either moored at a dock or traveling.
    – jmoreno
    Commented Aug 12, 2023 at 19:06
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    What is it? Bibby Stockholming, Bibby Stockholm or Bubby Stockholm?!
    – Trish
    Commented Aug 13, 2023 at 9:12
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    @Seekinganswers Different rules apply to houseboats vs. 300ft accommodation barges. Different rules apply depending on how long the vessel moors in one place. And where (e.g. below or above a tidemark, does a jetty already exist). So are you asking about all that?
    – Lag
    Commented Aug 13, 2023 at 9:25
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    @SJuan76: that’s a matter of capacity, not law. In the linked article the mayor seems to be making the argument that it’s not allowed because it doesn’t have an engine, unlike a cruise ship which might have 5 times as many people on it. But doesn’t quote a statue that makes that so. As such, my guess is that it is the exact same thing as a cruise ship or anything else that uses the dock, a matter of capacity, space, and cost.
    – jmoreno
    Commented Aug 13, 2023 at 14:29
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    @Seekinganswers Fair enough. Could I then suggest that you edit the title so that someone who has never heard of the Bibby Stockholm would understand what the question is about? Commented Aug 18, 2023 at 8:14

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then what stops private citizens from residing on such structures?

Nothing. Anyone who can be a tenant of a house or apartment can be a tenant of a boat.

The [general framework at a very broad and high level] of legality of mooring semi permanent barges such as the Bubby Stockholm off the British coast, whether for the government or for private citizenry?

The owner must moor it somewhere. If the mooring doesn't already exist then you need licences and/or permissions and/or consents from the relevant authorities/owners to make it. The Crown Estate owns about 50% of the UK foreshore and most of the seabed. There could be more than one authority/owner of the space to be occupied.

On the inland waterways you will need either a permanent mooring licence or a continuous cruising licence.

If you stay in one place sufficiently long you become liable for council tax.

You will either somehow travel to the mooring or (more conveniently) the mooring is near a jetty. Does the jetty already exist or must it be built? Is there additional infrastructure to be built, such as parking, utilities (electricity, water, gas, sewerage), 24/7 security etc? To accomodate 500 people on one vessel you will need more than is required by occupants of a 34ft yacht or 70ft narrowboat.

To lawfully start building things you need the appropriate permissions/consents.

In the case of Bibby Stockholm and Portland Port, the government's position is that the barge is below 'mean low water'. This means planning permission to situate the barge is not required from the local authority - it is outside the LA's control.

But the Mayor in her capacity as a local resident, not her office, claims the additional works such as the utilities infrastructure, exercise area and fences come into the jurisdiction of the local authority's planning powers.

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But what is the legality of mooring semi permanent barges such as the Bubby Stockholm off the British coast, whether for the government or for private citizenry?

So what tautologically, it’s legal if they comply with the law. Many regulations apply and many authorities are involved.

If anyone is allowed to construct and moor barges like that off the coast and then not have to own or rent property to inhabit, then what stops private citizens from residing on such structures?

Anyone can.

But the still need to “own or rent property”, it’s just that the property is a boat rather than real estate.

However, the costs of owning, maintaining, and registering a boat, particularly one of that size, are not negligible. While it’s unlikely they would be as much as owning or renting real estate, it isn’t free.

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