Stroud District Council consultation on Canal restoration
Bisley-with-Lypiatt Parish Council's response to the SDC consultation on the restoration of the Stroudwater and Thames and Severn canals is given below.
For more information on the canal project please visit Cotswold Canals Project website, which hosts information from all the Cotswold Canals Partnership members and Cotswold Canals Connected. These sites will be shown in a new browser window or tab.
The Cotswold Canals Design Framework.
The Industrial Heritage Conservation Area Review.
We have carefully considered the
implications of the Cotswold Canal restoration project as a generality but have mainly
focussed our attention on that part of the canal which passes through the Oakridge
Ward. This is the section which abuts the Chalford boundary at Ashmeads/Three
Groves Wood and runs east to the Sapperton Tunnel West Portal. Additionally
because of the unspoilt nature of this part of the canal we have considered the aspects
of waterway restoration and industrial heritage preservation as one.
- The Canal Restoration to Brimscombe Port
The part of the canal running parallel with the A419 from Stonehouse to Brimscombe
Port runs through contrasting scenery, some open country, 19th century mill buildings
(some restored viz Ebley Mill) Canal infrastructure buildings, new housing
developments and unattractive industrial premises.
Ideally we believe as many as possible of the original buildings should be preserved
and utilised either for commercial or residential purposes.
New buildings need to be designed with this background in mind ensuring there is a
harmonious fit. Existing enterprises established in warehouse/factory sheds should be
encouraged to upgrade their facilities in keeping with the overall plan.
At all costs linear ribbon development of anonymous apartments/flats or houses must
be prevented, and there must be open areas giving easy access and visual amenity to
and from the canal.
New and replacement buildings should be of contemporary design and excellent
quality meeting the highest environmental standards. They must integrate with their
surroundings and landscape.
All parts of the canal and its immediate surroundings form part of the flood control
and retention for this valley from Chalford west, including all the villages through to
Stroud and on to the Severn. With climate change and unreliable weather patterns
bringing possible problems from the hills (east) and predicted rise in sea levels
bringing problems from the west we would like to feel that the restoration will take
this issue into account. A point of particular concern is that the existing main sewer
runs alongside the canal and river.
Apart from the canal period buildings there are important and tangible reminders of
the canals heritage for example the bridges, sluices, handling equipment and the locks.
We assume the restoration plan allows for these to be retained as they are, if not
restored, to their original form. Concern was felt about the intrusion of modern safety
barriers/signs and equipment that might be forced upon the environment when at
present there are few.
At present erosion and silt is a particular problem in certain areas of the valley,
exacerbated by the current pattern of short but very intense rainfall, this needs to be
allowed for in the restoration plans.
- The Golden Valley.
This section of the canal is dewatered and taken over by nature. It is the only part of
the canal that is genuinely wild. The quality of birdsong is remarkable. It is peaceful
and is maintained as a Nature Reserve by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. Siccaridge
Woods is a triple SSSI.There are no buildings other than a very few converted
cottages. Some historic ruins remain also.
Currently in spite of recent heavy rains there is no water running in the Frome until
Bakers Mill. This poses the question about water to feed the summit, the infrastructure
and the environmental impact required to make it available there, and the source.
The key question therefore is whether the restored canal is to proceed peacefully
through this AONB up to the Sapperton Tunnel with little or no access, or if some
form of associated development is to be allowed. Generally the hilly nature of the
surrounding countryside and the narrow approach road with few passing places would
prevent the construction of major servicing facilities or housing/commercial
development without major works totally incompatible with the setting.
The Parish Councilís view in short is:
To recommend this section of the canal be preserved as a tranquil part ideally much as
it is now, restoring only the corridor of the canal and tow path in the Golden Valley
Reason: To maintain the special natural diversity and wilderness of this section,
and preserve the landscape.
No new building or infrastructure to be permitted excepting possibly a very
limited expansion of facilities at Daneway. We welcome and support the plans for
the preservation of wildlife habitats. The Council will be aware of the protected
species such as dormice which inhabit this area, birds such as the kingfisher and
hobby, and flowers such as the unusual masses of lily of the valley, it is essential
that such refurbishment as is necessary must be kept to the canal itself and
towpath corridor ONLY, and must not intrude into wildlife corridors running
Reason: To preserve the special environment that exists in the valley.
- Strict controls to be enforced governing the environment, litter, pollution from
vessels, sewage disposal and fuelling.
Reason: To reduce the environmental impact of the restoration.
- The canal to be constructed as originally built, with sloping (not vertical) sides.
Reason: To preserve wildlife access to the water.
- The use of concrete should be discouraged.
Reason: The impermeability to water pressure from the underground springs could
present unknown problems as with the railway line during its refurbishment in
- Locks to be restored in a traditional manner to enable manual operation.
Bridges - Whitehall Bridge (1782)/Daneway Bridge/Bakers Mill Bridge to be
maintained at existing span.
Reason: To preserve as part of the amenity.
- All canal associated relics to be preserved.
Reason: To preserve as part of the amenity.
- The towpath to remain unmetalled.
Vehicular access to be limited, with no parking at the bottom of the valley.
Reason: To preserve the particular environment and seclusion which exist through
- No new access routes to be created for the reconstruction phase of the
canal otherwise the integral quality of the landscape and its wildlife will be
destroyed (see scar in the landscape created by railway works).
Great consideration must be given to the type and size of the machinery used in
the work in order to minimise their impact on residents and wildlife.
No modern signage, lighting or barriers to be permitted.
In summary whilst we support the Canal Restoration project which we believe will
offer advantages to Stroud District we urge a sympathetic approach to design and the
preservation of the Golden Valley section as a place of rural secret beauty to be
appreciated by residents and visitors (boating or otherwise) alike.