Great news for cyclists and walkers as Gloucestershire County Council earmarks £700k to upgrade the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal towpath between Monk Meadow and Elmore Lane West.
The funding, £200,000 successfully secured from Gloucestershire Environmental Trust and £500,000 of developer contributions from the Kingsway development will be used to install a new more durable surface finished with timber edging boards. It is also planned to include some new street furniture such as benches and improved signs.
At its meeting on18th July cabinet will be asked to agree how the money will be spent. If approved, the work will be carried out by landowners the Canal & River Trust with work expected to begin in late summer and take about 20 weeks to complete.
It is hoped that this is only the first stage of the upgrade as there are plans to continue on from Elmore Lane West to The Pilot Inn at Hardwicke in the future. This depends on a bid for further funding. It will be known if the bid has been successful sometime next year.
The towpath serves as a key route between Gloucester City Centre and the south of the city linking areas such as Hempsted and Podsmead and the newer outer city developments at Quedgeley and Kingsway and is used for recreation, commuting and access to local services within Gloucester Quays and Gloucester City Centre.
The towpath also forms part of Route 41 of the National Cycle network which is a long distance route that when complete will connect Bristol, Gloucester, Stratford-upon-Avon and Rugby and Route 45 which links Chester, Bridgnorth, Worcester, and Gloucester to Cirencester and Swindon.
Councillor Vernon Smith, cabinet member for highways and flood at Gloucestershire County Council said:
“I’m thrilled that we’ve been able to secure funding for this fabulous improvement to such a key route into Gloucester. The towpath is already well used and this significant upgrade will make it even more accessible and appealing to those who want to use it for work or leisure.
“I’m sure our work alongside the Canal & River Trust to improve the quality of the towpath will encourage more people to walk and cycle and enjoy this wonderful facility.”
Mike Youe, Canal & River Trust enterprise manager, said: “We’re delighted such significant investment is being made in the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal. It is enjoyed by so many people, all of who will benefit from these improvements.
“The canal is a fantastic space to relax and escape the pressures of everyday life. Whether you are boating, running, cycling or just popping out for a bit of fresh air, it offers something for everyone, so I definitely recommend you make a visit.”
Stephen Owen, Chairman of Gloucestershire Environmental Trust said, “Gloucestershire Environmental Trust is very pleased to provide this substantial grant towards the regeneration of the canal towpath.
“This meets several of the Trust’s aims by improving access for people working or shopping in Gloucester without using a car, by providing a better and more enjoyable leisure experience and by creating more sustainable wildlife habitats.”