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Council plans ahead to keep canal project on track

Published: Tuesday, 24 September, 2019

Stroud District Council is preparing plans it hopes it won’t have to use to ensure a £23.4million canal restoration project stays on track.

To deliver the project, the council and its partners need to acquire land from owners on the route of the canal between Stonehouse and Saul, and discussions are underway with all of them. Nevertheless, next week councillors are expected to be asked to support the principle of Compulsory Purchase as a last resort.

“It’s a matter of managing risk,” said David Marshall, the council’s Canal Manager. “The council would much prefer to agree on fair terms with all the landowners, but we can’t risk jeopardising the project because we can’t get the land we need. We much prefer agreement with landowners, but Compulsory Purchase gives the project certainty if negotiation is unsuccessful.”

A Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) will also enable the council to register some parcels of land in unknown ownership, and remove any unexpected historic rights which might prevent restoration. The council passed a similar resolution at the start of canal restoration between Thrupp and Stonehouse, but never needed to take CPO action against any owners.

The Cotswold Canals Connected project will see restoration of 4 miles of canal between Stonehouse and Saul. It will connect the five miles of canal already restored with the national inland waterway network.

The £23.4million link hinges on £9million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund – it is reviewing the bid’s development next month and wants to be confident that all the land needed can be acquired.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has already awarded £842,000 of development funding to the Cotswold Canals Connected project - a further delivery stage bid for £8.9million will be made by April 2020.

“The regeneration of the canal is one of the largest such projects in the country and has already brought major benefits to the district. We really want to see the final phase succeed and Stroud and Stonehouse become canal towns once again, with a living waterway running through the heart of the district all the way to Sharpness and the Severn.” said council Leader Doina Cornell.

The Strategy and Resources Committee is expected to be asked to support the principle of compulsory purchase, instruct the Head of Property Services to return with detailed CPOs if necessary, and authorise legal counsel as appropriate.

To see the full report visit: https://www.stroud.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/meetings/strategy-and-resources-committee later this week.

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