Stroud District Council and Cotswold Canals Trust have received backing from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), for the restoration of the canal between Stonehouse and Saul junction, including the ‘missing mile’ at Eastington.
The HLF picked ‘Stroudwater Navigation Connected’ as one of just four projects across the country for development funding and the £842,000 announced today will make sure everything is in place to apply for a further £9 million of HLF money to allow the whole project to go ahead. If the HLF had not chosen this project, it would have been set back by at least a decade.
Prince Charles’ obvious interest during his recent visit cannot have harmed our chances, but the real thanks must go to the volunteers who have done so much impressive restoration work already, and including those spending countless hours getting the HLF ‘bid’ together. Well done all concerned.
The stretch between Stroud and Stonehouse is already nearly fully restored; bringing the remaining four miles back in to use will link it to the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal and the rest of the country.
This will :-
● create 30 more hectares of biodiverse habitat,
● regenerate the canal towpath for recreational use,
● help to conserve and digitise archive material of the canal’s history
● attract major tourism benefits,
● attract more than £100 million-worth of new private investment into the area within five years of the end of the project
● Studies suggest that boaters and visitors to a restored canal would spend more than £5 million a year in the Stroud district.
Stroud District Council leader Doina Cornell said “We knew that the bid was very strong but this is a huge relief and it means that working with partners, we can drive the project on and look forward to making Stroud and Stonehouse canal towns once again.”
The project aims to take the canal under the M5 motorway, reinstate the ‘missing mile’ of canal near Eastington and forge a new stretch of canal under the Gloucester-Bristol railway line at Stonehouse.
The SDC-led canal restoration between Stonehouse and Thrupp has already transformed the canal corridor.
The whole Stonehouse-Saul project will eventually have cost around £24 million, with direct health benefits alone being calculated to be worth in excess of £37 million. The value to the area of private investment and business attracted is measured in hundreds of millions.
About the Heritage Lottery Fund and funding
HLF Heritage Grants applications are assessed in two rounds. Stroudwater Navigation Connected has initially been granted round one development funding of £842,000 , allowing it to progress with its plans. Detailed proposals are then to be considered by HLF at a second round, where the final decision is made to release the full award of £9 million. Other funding comes from Stroud District Council, Gloucestershire County Council, Cotswold Canals Trust and the Canal and River Trust .