Safeguarding of Thames wharves was introduced as part of the suite of policies in Strategic Guidance for the River Thames (RPG3b/9b) in February 1997. The safeguarding directions issued meant that development proposals unrelated to river uses had to be notified to the Secretary of State.
Responsibility for policy on safeguarding of wharves and monitoring of planning applications passed to the Mayor of London in 2000. New directions were issued requiring that applications for the development of safeguarded wharves for non-river uses must be referred to the Mayor for decision.
The power to issue safeguarding directions remains with the Secretary of State, but it is now for the Mayor to recommend to the Secretary of State which sites should be safeguarded, in the context of the London Plan. It is the responsibility of the Secretary of State to check that, in line with Circular 1/2000, the Mayor has followed the correct procedures for instigating a change to his policy.
In a letter to the Government office for London, dated 12 May 2004, the Mayor of London recommended that:
the Safeguarding Direction for Delta Wharf, issued by the Secretary of State on 16 June 2000, should be lifted with immediate effect; and
the Safeguarding Direction for Victoria Deep Water Terminal, issued by the Secretary of State on 16 June 2000, should also be lifted with immediate effect and simultaneously a new Safeguarding Direction should be issued for the wharf reflecting the reconfigured northern boundary of the site.
Following careful consideration of the issues raised in the Mayor of London's letter, the Secretary of State reached the decision to approve the Mayor's recommendations. On 19 May 2004, the Secretary of State therefore issued directions under Articles 10 and 27 of the Town and Country Planning (General Development Procedure) Order 1995:
cancelling the June 2000 safeguarding direction applying to Delta Wharf, and
simultaneously cancelling the June 2000 direction applying to the Victoria Deep Water Terminal and issuing a revised safeguarding direction reflecting the reconfigured northern boundary.
A further modification to the safeguarded area at the Victoria Deep Water Terminal was recommended by the Mayor of London as part of his review of safeguarded wharves "Safeguarded Wharves on the River Thames: The London Plan—Implementation Report". His recommendation was that the southern boundary should be redrawn to remove those areas that were part of Bay Wharf and which were not considered to be viable or capable of being made viable for cargo-handling. Following careful consideration, on 3 June 2005 the Secretary of State issued a revised safeguarding direction for the Victoria Deep Water Terminal implementing the recommendation.