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Gloucestershire Business News

Revised scheme to reinstate 'missing mile' of canal

A revised scheme to reinstate the 'MIssing Mile' section of the Stroudwater Canal with associated infrastructure has been submitted to planners.

Stroud District Council has submitted the revised planning application (S.19/0291/FUL) for the 'Reinstatement of the 'Missing Mile' section of the Stroudwater Navigation and development of associated infrastructure including locks, mooring basins, car parking, cafe/pub and leisure facilities building with combined office and residence for basin manager.

The missing mile is located between the A38 Whitminster roundabout, under the M5 to Westfield lock near Chipmans Platt, Eastington which was filled in to make way for the building of the M5.

The proposed project follows a multi-million pound project to feed the canal under the A38 at Whitminster which was completed just over a year ago and work to complete the Ocean Bridge at Stonehouse, carried out over Christmas.

Chris Mitford-Slade, project director for the Cotswolds Canals Connected project, has no doubts that the scheme will go ahead.

Speaking on BBC Radio Gloucestershire this morning, he said: "This is the last critical section that we need to complete before we can reconnect Stroud to Saul Junction to which will enable canal boats onto the national network so people can really get the full benefits out of the canal whether they are using it for their canal boats or walking," he said.

"It will happen. We've got the momentum now, we've got the support from really everyone in the local area. We are happy to acquire some land and the piece of land below the Ecoctricity area. We are just finalising that deal at the moment and getting the planning application agreed and then we can complete that and work on down to Saul Junction and get it all opened up."

Mr Mitford-Slade said it was a major project which was likely to take at least three years. "We are looking at 2025. There will be phases when things are open but it's an ongoing process for several years beyond that. It's a lot of work to do over that period. We've got a total of 26 individual projects to be completed and then there's also all the community and environmental work that goes with it. There's a lot of work apart from the engineering."

The project will need to use part of the land being earmarked for an ecopark and new stadium being built by Forest Green Rovers.

Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity, told BBC Radio Gloucestershire: "The piece of canal now needs to be dug from one edge of our land to the other edge and bit further towards the A40 and Stroud will be connected to the inland waterways once more.

"In between the river and the canal we're going to create a wetland area so when the river floods the water will be retained there, kind of held in place by the canal, so there's a great kind of nature and leisure and aesthetic outcome.

"The whole of the eco-park itself is potentially massive for the county, not just the district. Estimates that have been made are an economic contribution of £150m every year if and when it gets built. As a green tech business park and sports stadium I think it's a fantastic opportunity to create jobs in a green economy which is super important and, of course, a new home for Forest Green Rovers as we try to get into the Championship."

Mr Mitford-Slade said there were plenty of opportunities for volunteers for all parts of the project if people wanted to go onto the Cotswold Canals Connected website.

The planning application can be viewed and comments made at https://www.stroud.gov.uk/planning  by 31st January 2022.

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