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Council investment boosts restoration

Stroud District Council invest £3m in the restoration

Plans to restore the canal between Stonehouse and Saul have been transformed by Stroud District Council’s decision to invest £3m in the project.

The Cotswold Canals Trust is delighted with this huge boost to the project’s funds and this great statement of the confidence that the Council has in the project.
It will be an invaluable aid in negotiations with other partners and in the work of the Trust’s fund raising team.

SDC Council Offices at Ebley Mill
Photo courtesy of Stroud History Society

Stonehouse & Stroud reconnected to national network

The total cost of restoring the 4 mile length of canal is estimated at around £19m and a bid for funding will be made to the Heritage Lottery Fund in November.
This project will re-connect Stonehouse and Stroud to England’s navigable waterways network.
Boats will travel from the Gloucester – Sharpness Canal through Stonehouse and Stroud, and eventually to Brimscombe. People will walk and cycle along a continuous towpath.
Local businesses will benefit and there will be further opportunities for inward investment, on top of the £117 million that has benefited the canal corridor since 2006.

A previous bid by the Cotswold Canals Trust in 2015 was unsuccessful, partly due to a lack of funding from partners in the project.

“I hope that our investment will make the difference,” said Cllr Steve Lydon, Leader of Stroud District Council.
“I’ve been struck by the level of support from the public, who are telling us to get on with it.
The canal project has already brought huge environmental, economic and leisure benefits, which will reach their full potential when we connect to the national network.”

Cllr Ken Tucker, Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the council said “Although our investment transforms the prospects for the canal, the project is always going to be totally dependent on volunteers, who contribute around 15,000 hours per year. They are the ones who really make a difference and we are all very grateful to them.”

In advance of the next funding bid, volunteers have begun work on the section between Stonehouse and Saul. Since Christmas, Waterway Recovery Group teams have already cleared around 200m of channel west of Fromebridge roundabout. 

Waterway Recovery Group Volunteers at work on the Whitminster Pound
28th December — Photo by CCT Photographer Mike Gallagher

With the permission of Ecotricity, other volunteers carry out an assessment of Westfield Lock

Revised funding bid well underway

Work on the revised bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund is already well underway.
The top priority is to address the reasons why the 2015 bid was not successful.
SDC’s offer of £3 million is a key step in doing this.

Reducing some of the project’s uncertainties is another step; for example there is a need to demonstrate how the ‘Missing Mile’ between the A38 and Eastington will be recreated.
Ecotricity owns much of this stretch and is proposing to erect a new sports stadium and business park on its land.

CCT statement of support

Jim White, CCT’s Chairman, said “The Trust would support Ecotricity’s plans provided that they bring about restoration of the ‘Missing Mile’.

“There are obviously immense mutual benefits in having facilities close to the restored canal.
We expect many people will visit both the canal and the sports facilities, once they are both open.

“It would make sense for the canal restoration and any development to happen at the same time and we hope to work closely with Ecotricity on this.”