Stroudwater Navigation — Complete and Connected
An important step in making the above heading a reality took place on Monday 30th November. Phase 1b Funding Bid Convenor Val Kirby and Trust Chairman Jim White left Eastington with a car-load of files & documents on an historic journey down the M5 to the regional headquarters of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Exeter.
Final bid for £15million
The Cotswold Canals Trust and its partners have compiled the final submission in the £15 million bid to restore the Stroudwater Navigation from Stonehouse to Saul.
The South-West director of the Fund has described this second restoration phase as one of the largest single projects to have been considered by the Lottery Fund in recent years.
An answer to the bid is expected next April. If successful, development work on the second section would begin immediately, with a target date for the completed link to the national canal network within six years.
The final submission is the culmination of two-and-a-half years of intense work, including detailed costings and engineering solutions, involving a 40-strong team — most of whom have volunteered their time and expertise.
One such engineering solution is illustrated below.
A significant achievement has been to keep the overall costs of the project within the levels first proposed back in 2007.
Discussions have gone well on detailed cost estimates for four of the major construction challenges: for a new railway bridge at The Ocean, a new channel to take the canal beneath the M5, the crossing of the A38/A419 roundabout involving two bridges, and a further bridge near Saul Junction. A mile of new canal will be dug between the A38 and Eastington and two brand-new locks constructed by volunteers.
The funding bid is supported by letters from a wide variety of national and local authorities and organisations, including county, district, town and parish councils, special interest groups, the local MP and MEP, Natural England and the Environment Agency, and the Homes and Communities Agency.
Public consultations show strong support
In questionnaires completed during public consultations earlier this year, a convincing 99 per cent ‘strongly supported’ the project to complete the canal link to Saul.
Top of the list of perceived benefits were a better, longer towpath for walking and cycling, both for commuting and pleasure, and business growth and benefits to wildlife. An almost identical percentage of positive comments showed up in replies made by more than 1,100 responses to surveys on the towpath next to the already restored canal.
Eagerness for completion and connection
Cotwold Canals Trust Chairman Jim White comments,“It would be impossible not to be impressed by the strongest single sentiment across all respondents: a great eagerness to see the first phase of restoration completed and connected to the national network at Saul through completion of the second four-mile long section for which we are seeking Lottery funding.
"The data clearly shows that the experience will only be complete when boat traffic is seen on the waterway together with the many other visitors to the area that a working waterway will bring.”