£ 3m Cotswold restoration boost
THE COTSWOLD CANALS Trust’s £19m plan to re-connect the canal to the national network has come a step closer to reality with the announcement of £3m of funding from Stroud District Council.
Following the restoration (currently nearing completion) of the land-locked six miles from Stonehouse via Stroud to near Brimscombe Port (known as Phase 1a), the Trust is bidding for funds to reopen the connecting Phase 1b length from Stonehouse to Saul Junction where it joins the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal.
Following an unsuccessful bid in 2015 for a £15m Heritage Lottery Fund grant, a resubmitted application is planned for this autumn. However the Lottery money is dependent on a proportion of ‘matching funding’ from other bodies, and it was partly the lack of confirmed matching funding which sank the first bid. Getting the Council’s contribution agreed this far in advance is therefore a major boost to the bid’s chances of success.
Another step forward would be to deal with any uncertainties about how the canal will be reopened – in particular, reinstating the ‘missing mile’ between Eastington and the A38 main road. Much of this is owned by company Ecotricity, which has plans for a sports stadium and business park.
CCT Chairman Jim White said the Trust would support the plans if they brought about the restoration of this section: “It would make sense for the canal restoration and any development to happen at the same time and we hope to work closely with Ecotricity on this.”