New vision for London’s canals launched – charity sets out benefits waterways can bring to the capital


THE Canal & River Trust has launched a new vision for the massive health, environmental, community and economic opportunities provided by the capital’s canals.

The Trust’s prospectus for London, titled ‘Unlocking the potential of London’s canals and rivers’, was launched at a conference on making the most of urban waterways hosted by Future of London – the capital’s independent network for the built environment – at Hilton Tower Bridge last Thursday (June 20).


It comes at a time when there is in excess of 70 million visits to the Trust’s regional waterways each year. Over 1.2 million Londoners are also now living within one kilometer of the water, while there are more boats on London’s canals and rivers than ever before.

Allan Leighton, Chair of the Canal & River Trust, says: “Today, our waterways continue to make an important contribution to life in the city, albeit very different from their original role. Their role is now as life-enhancing blue-green corridors offering an escape from the busy city streets, for health, exercise, and community cohesion. They make a vital contribution to the wellbeing of London society by creating places where people want to live and work, and routes that they can use. We believe they have an important role to play in supporting the Mayor’s aspirations and the local plans of all of London’s diverse communities, to be an agent for ‘Good Growth’ and wellbeing in London.”

Sir William Atkinson, Chair of the Trust’s London & South East Advisory Board, says: “As a Trust we are excited by the challenge of getting our disparate communities and partners to recognise and appreciate the tremendous benefits associated with their local canals and rivers, helping to make life in the city better by water.”


Among the areas the Trust’s prospectus focuses on are:

  • Extending healthy streets: such as providing improved green transport links via the Quietways scheme
  • Delivering strategic regeneration projects for London: waterside Old Oak Park Royal (Grand Union Canal) and Meridian Water (River Lee) developments are set to provide 40,000 new homes and 75,000 jobs between them
  • Cultural assets – a city for Londoners: continuing to bring and major events, festivals and art to the waterways
  • Supporting green innovations: such as incorporating freight into major infrastructure schemes
  • Enabling healthier communities: working with GPs and other groups to help people discover improvements to physical and mental health provided by being by water
  • Supporting ‘Good Growth’ locally: ensuring improvements to the waterways as part of local development continue to bring environmental, health and leisure benefits to local communities
  • Providing housing choice: utilising space appropriately, for example in Docklands
  • Supporting clean and renewable energy: expanding schemes like that used by Glaxo Smith Kline who take water from the Grand Union Canal as an alternative to air conditioning their head office at Brentford. The scheme has reduced their carbon dioxide emissions by 920 tonnes per year and has significantly lowered energy bills

In Greater London the Canal & River Trust cares for the Grand Union Canal, Regent’s Canal, Hertford Union Canal, Limeshouse Cut, Docklands and the River Lee and River Stort.

For more information about the ‘Unlocking the potential of London’s canals and rivers’ visit