Swindon AdvertiserCall to extend canal restoration scheme (From Swindon Advertiser)

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Call to extend canal restoration scheme

Swindon Advertiser: Chris Coyle, right, of the Wilts and Berks Canal Trust Chris Coyle, right, of the Wilts and Berks Canal Trust

A LOCAL charity is urging planners to go back to the drawing board and reconsider the regeneration of Swindon town centre.

The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust believes the current vision is “missing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to maximise the impact of a restored waterway.

Forward Swindon is currently consulting on a masterplan which would include bringing the canal back into the town through North Star as far as a basin adjacent to Station Road. Crucially, it omits linking this section to the restored canal at Westleaze.

The trust believes the scheme should be more ambitious and extend the restoration through the entire town so that more residents and businesses can enjoy the benefits of a new wildlife corridor which would attract tourism and employment.

The charity, which recently received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, is now urging local people to take part in the consultation.

The trust’s Chris Coyle said: “We really do appreciate the hard work of everyone involved in preparing the current plans, but they run the risk of missing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make the most of this wonderful waterway.

“Estimates suggest the Swindon economy could benefit from an additional £10m per year if the Wilts & Berks was brought back to life, as well as increased leisure opportunities and improved access to the countryside.

“The current plan to only bring the canal as far as Station Road means many parts of the town might miss out on these tremendous benefits.

“We are urging all of our 2,300 members to rally together and make their views known, and we hope other people will join our campaign too.”

The aim of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust is to restore the waterway from the Kennet and Avon Canal, near Melksham, to the Thames & Severn Canal, near Cricklade , and the River Thames, near Abingdon, linking Chippenham, Calne, Royal Wootton Bassett and Swindon.

The charity hopes it will provide a multi-million-pound boost to the local economy through increased tourism and employment, as well as providing an amenity for boaters, walkers, cyclists and anglers.

Significant stretches have already been restored across the county – including at Kingshill – and have proved to be a popular attraction.

Chris said: “The social, economic, environmental and cultural benefits of a restored waterway have already been demonstrated across the UK.

“These towns have seen the creation of new wildlife habitats and the establishment of canalside cafes and bars and other facilities.

“We are as keen as everyone else to see Swindon transformed and new jobs created, but we must look at the bigger picture.

“The reluctance to engage with this exciting project seems to revolve around concerns about the cost of the canal without looking at the benefit.

“Integrating a waterway into the regeneration will be a fraction of the cost of the scheme but will contribute a proportion of the additional economic benefit.

“We only have one chance to get this right. Every voice will count.”

Visit www.swindonmasterplan. co.uk or email swindonmasterplan@am-up.com.

Comments (13)

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10:56am Fri 28 Sep 12

malctg says...

This does sound like a great idea. But it should never have been lost to the town. This council has no foresight. They can't even save the grade 2 listed building of The Mechanics Institute. I see little hope of the restoration of the canal through swindon! The Foureyed Poet.
This does sound like a great idea. But it should never have been lost to the town. This council has no foresight. They can't even save the grade 2 listed building of The Mechanics Institute. I see little hope of the restoration of the canal through swindon! The Foureyed Poet. malctg
  • Score: 0

11:04am Fri 28 Sep 12

PaulD says...

I'd love this to be a reality, as any town with a waterway or river in its centre tends to have a much better atmosphere and a greater sense of charm, but I fear that the costs and planning required of this would be too much.
I'd love this to be a reality, as any town with a waterway or river in its centre tends to have a much better atmosphere and a greater sense of charm, but I fear that the costs and planning required of this would be too much. PaulD
  • Score: 0

11:08am Fri 28 Sep 12

Al Smith says...

I'll repeat what I said on the other version of this article.

I think we all know the road infrastructure in Swindon is at breaking point. This makes the route up Westcott Place and Faringdon Road a non-starter (this is route the canal trust want). Look at the damage the Whalebridge changes have done to businesses in Fleet Street. Instead of reviving the town centre you could end-up harming it.

Perhaps the canal trust need to re-examine using the original route of the canal through Canal Walk which would cause far less traffic disruption and might even be a focus for redevelopment of the whole shopping centre.
I'll repeat what I said on the other version of this article. I think we all know the road infrastructure in Swindon is at breaking point. This makes the route up Westcott Place and Faringdon Road a non-starter (this is route the canal trust want). Look at the damage the Whalebridge changes have done to businesses in Fleet Street. Instead of reviving the town centre you could end-up harming it. Perhaps the canal trust need to re-examine using the original route of the canal through Canal Walk which would cause far less traffic disruption and might even be a focus for redevelopment of the whole shopping centre. Al Smith
  • Score: 0

1:28pm Fri 28 Sep 12

Davey Gravey says...

Its a non starter. A nice idea but totally unrealistic
Its a non starter. A nice idea but totally unrealistic Davey Gravey
  • Score: 0

1:31pm Fri 28 Sep 12

umpcah says...

Davey Gravey wrote:
Its a non starter. A nice idea but totally unrealistic
SPOT ON i.m.o.
[quote][p][bold]Davey Gravey[/bold] wrote: Its a non starter. A nice idea but totally unrealistic[/p][/quote]SPOT ON i.m.o. umpcah
  • Score: 0

2:00pm Fri 28 Sep 12

darrey80 says...

Canal Route would be possible:

Shepard St > London st > Bristol st > Church place > Between Dean st and railway > Then south crossing Wotten Basset Rd adjacent to Running Horse pub
Canal Route would be possible: Shepard St > London st > Bristol st > Church place > Between Dean st and railway > Then south crossing Wotten Basset Rd adjacent to Running Horse pub darrey80
  • Score: 0

2:24pm Fri 28 Sep 12

SockPuppet says...

It would be amazing if it could be done but traffic in general needs to be the initial priority.
It would be amazing if it could be done but traffic in general needs to be the initial priority. SockPuppet
  • Score: 0

2:42pm Fri 28 Sep 12

greenpacer says...

I agree with Al smith , but after flowing through canal walk where to then.?Fleming Way was the next part of the route across the Magic Roundabout and along the back of Shrivenham Road. What would happen about the traffic then ? Put it on a flyover ? I don't think so .
I agree with Al smith , but after flowing through canal walk where to then.?Fleming Way was the next part of the route across the Magic Roundabout and along the back of Shrivenham Road. What would happen about the traffic then ? Put it on a flyover ? I don't think so . greenpacer
  • Score: 0

3:56pm Fri 28 Sep 12

Empty Car Park says...

Put it on a flyover?

No way!

Let's have a canal going over Swindon Aquaduct

That's "vision"

Foreward Swindon will do nothing more imaginative than give way to builders and developers

That' why Swindon is so cr4p
Put it on a flyover? No way! Let's have a canal going over Swindon Aquaduct That's "vision" Foreward Swindon will do nothing more imaginative than give way to builders and developers That' why Swindon is so cr4p Empty Car Park
  • Score: 0

5:23pm Fri 28 Sep 12

umpcah says...

Empty Car Park wrote:
Put it on a flyover?

No way!

Let's have a canal going over Swindon Aquaduct

That's "vision"

Foreward Swindon will do nothing more imaginative than give way to builders and developers

That' why Swindon is so cr4p
Let the council spend a helluva lot of money on a feasibilty study and then inevitably decide not to proceed !
[quote][p][bold]Empty Car Park[/bold] wrote: Put it on a flyover? No way! Let's have a canal going over Swindon Aquaduct That's "vision" Foreward Swindon will do nothing more imaginative than give way to builders and developers That' why Swindon is so cr4p[/p][/quote]Let the council spend a helluva lot of money on a feasibilty study and then inevitably decide not to proceed ! umpcah
  • Score: 0

6:02pm Fri 28 Sep 12

Empty Car Park says...

Let the council spend a helluva lot of money on a feasibilty study and then inevitably decide not to proceed !

Whoops!
They already did.

£52k wasn't it?
Let the council spend a helluva lot of money on a feasibilty study and then inevitably decide not to proceed ! Whoops! They already did. £52k wasn't it? Empty Car Park
  • Score: 0

5:46pm Tue 2 Oct 12

The Patrician says...

This is a joke - right ?
This is a joke - right ? The Patrician
  • Score: 0

9:36am Sat 6 Oct 12

Noah's Ark says...

What a waste of money! The whole idea of restoring a canal which in the previous century was unviable is balmy.

Where is the money going to come from to tunnel under the M4, cross the A419 and bridge various other roads. This canal will never be finished.

Even in the countryside many landowners are not interested in allowing the canal trust to redig the canal through their land. It will never ever join up. Cllr Bluh forget about this idea there are more important problems to solve in the town
What a waste of money! The whole idea of restoring a canal which in the previous century was unviable is balmy. Where is the money going to come from to tunnel under the M4, cross the A419 and bridge various other roads. This canal will never be finished. Even in the countryside many landowners are not interested in allowing the canal trust to redig the canal through their land. It will never ever join up. Cllr Bluh forget about this idea there are more important problems to solve in the town Noah's Ark
  • Score: 0

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