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Canal towpath set for major upgrade


The Gloucester Canal Towpath is in line for a major upgrade to encourage sustainable travel and improve accessibility.


Gloucestershire County Council’s cabinet will be asked to approve a proposal to apply for a £433,736 grant from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to fund the works.

The towpath, on the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal, offers a route between Gloucester and the south of the city, linking areas including Hempstead, Podsmead, Quedgeley and Kingsway.

The project aims to improve the quality of the towpath by completely resurfacing it, as some areas are prone to surface water flooding and have varying width along the route.

It aims to encourage people to enjoy the health benefits of using the towpath to travel into Gloucester and reduce use of cars, in line with GCC’s travel by-cycle strategy linking a countywide network of dedicated cycle and walking routes. It is also part of a long distance cycleway promoted by Sustrans, who run the National Cycle Network.

The project sets out to promote the economy of Gloucester through sustainable transport links and to improve the health and wellbeing of communities.

The works include biodiversity improvements to support the creation of new wildlife habitats and information boards detailing the rich history of the area would also be put up.

Resurfacing work has already been carried out on other stretches of the towpath in two other phases, costing £750,000, and this is the next phase of the project.

It would be undertaken by landowners and project partners the Canal and River Trust (CRT) and their contractors Kier on land between Elmore Lane West and Haywicks Lane. It would begin in September 2020 and be completed in spring 2021.

Cllr Vernon Smith, cabinet member for highways and flood, said: “This is a fantastic scheme as we want to make the towpath a popular route for commuters and recreational use. We hope it will encourage people to leave their cars at home and enjoy the health benefits of using this safe and scenic route instead.

“Working with our partners the Canal and River Trust, we hope the project will increase accessibility to the towpath and help to connect communities with sustainable transport links, reducing the need to travel by car.”

Cllr Mark Hawthorne, local councillor for Quedgeley, added: “I’m pleased to see further progress on this excellent project. These improvements to the canal towpath will encourage people to walk and cycle and will provide a wonderful route that I’m sure will be widely used. I’m looking forward to seeing the next phase of this project get under way.”

Papers for the cabinet meeting on 17 June can be viewed online here.

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