HLF Bid — Project Summary
The Stroud District Council led bid for restoring the canal between Stonehouse and Saul Junction was submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) on 30th November.
Dave Marshall, SDC, and CCT Chair Jim White, pictured below, delivered the five large folders to HLF regional headquarters in Exeter.
The bid runs to roughly 1000 pages and is the culmination of several months’ work by a team of largely Cotswold Canals Trust volunteers.
Credit must especially go to Val Kirby for doing the lion’s share.
The project, known as Stroudwater Navigation Connected, will cost a total of £23.4 million, including volunteer input. The HLF is being asked to contribute £9.8 million. The project would see Stroud and Stonehouse become canal towns once again and unlock the full benefits of restoration work already carried out.
Engineering, ecology & economics
The bid includes proposals for taking the canal under the M5, reinstating the ‘missing mile’ near Eastington and getting under the Gloucester – Bristol railway line at Stonehouse Ocean. As well as restoring the canal, plans include creating over 30 hectares of priority habitats in one of UK’s largest biodiversity offsetting projects. Studies suggest that boaters and visitors attracted by the restored canal would spend over £5 million a year in the district, whilst it would deliver monetised health benefits of £37 million per year.
Historic documents to be digitised
Many documents in the archives of the Company of Proprietors of the Stroudwater Navigation will be digitised and made available to support students, young and old. The documents date from 1730 and chart the Industrial Revolution and England’s ‘canal mania’.
The Stroud District Council-led restoration between Stonehouse and Thrupp has already transformed the canal corridor, attracting £113 million of private investment. Popular with the community, it remains landlocked and needs income from boaters and visitors.
A previous bid, submitted by the Cotswold Canals Trust in 2015, was rejected by the HLF, citing a lack of funding commitments and uncertainties over land ownership.
Prospects for the latest bid have been transformed by Stroud District Council committing £3 million, together with large contributions from Gloucestershire County Council and the Canal and River Trust.
The outcome should be known in April 2018.