Concerns vision to connect Severn and Thames canal link is at risk

The vision to create a navigable canal link between the Severn and Thames is at risk, according to opposition councillors at Stroud District Council.

Conservative councillors say the council’s longer term aspirations to restore the canal to the east of Brimscombe Port to reconnect with the River Thames at Lechlade have no protection.

Tories wanted to put forward an amendment to a planning document that offers no protection for this long held ambition at last week’s environment committee meeting.

The amendment sought to enshrine a commitment to secure the canal route and ensure future generations could continue working to achieve the noble ambition once held across the council, however this was blocked by a coalition of Green, Labour and Liberal councillors.

The Tories say officers responded to coordinated objections from landowners and others concerned that their lives will face interruption by reinstatement of the historic waterway and public access with an assurance that current plans would make no commitment to the canals. 

They added that this lack of commitment or protection extends to the draft local plan currently awaiting inspection.

Stroud District Council is the lead partner in the restoration of the Cotswold Canals Connected project with Cotswold Canals Trust, and they say the new emerging draft local plan refers to longer term aspirations to continue to the east of Brimscombe Port to reconnect with the River Thames at Lechlade.

“The council’s current Local Plan covers the next 20 years and supports the general principle of restoration of the canals within the district and specifically reconnecting the western end with the national inland waterway network, making Stroud and Stonehouse canal towns once again,” a spokesperson said.

“The council’s canal strategy cannot go beyond the policy of the current local plan, however the council could include proposals to restore the canal east of Brimscombe in a future Local plan, subject to this being supported at that time. 

“The canals strategy is approved to help deliver short and medium term improvements to the whole canal network and to support the current missing mile restoration project between A38 and Eastington, and reconnect the canal to the national waterways network at Saul Junction.”

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