MAYOR of the West Midlands, Andy Street, has broken the ground in Selly Oak to signal the start of restoration work on the Dudley No 2 Canal.
He was welcomed by Dr Andrew Hardie, chairman of the Lapal Canal Trust, who recently signed a £300,000 contract with Land & Water, to build the first Selly Oak section of the Dudley No 2 Canal.
Andy, who has supported the project for many years, congratulated the trust on the progress made. He said: “ This is a hugely important project for Selly Oak and the wider region and I endorse it wholeheartedly.
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“Our canals provide a safe and enjoyable way for residents to exercise, commute and connect with nature. We are all grateful for their restoration work, and I look forward to attending the grand opening in June.”
This is the start of a three-month project to build a new turning area to enable boats to enter the restored canal. Despite the rain there was an excellent turnout of helpers including John Hudson, chairman of the trust’s Advisory Board, Barry Toon, chairman of the Community Partnership for Selly Oak and Mike Palmer, chairman of the Inland Waterways Recovery Group.
WRG volunteers helped to repair the canal walls and are scheduled to return in August to build a disabled compatible turn-over path in Selly Oak Park.
The new water feature section completes the development of Whitehouse Wharf and forms part of the Selly Oak Shopping Centre owned by M & G Real Estate and provided as a public amenity. The area includes a bridge linking the new shops to Selly Oak town centre, the remains of a lime kiln and a new public square.
The large water area is designed to enable boats to turn and enter and exit the soon to be restored Dudley No 2 Canal. It will be an attractive calming water feature in the heart of Selly Oak, to be enjoyed by all canal users – including canoeists, paddle boarders and anglers.
It is large enough to be a convenient destination for trip boats to and from central Birmingham. A very pleasant 55-minute journey along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, takes in a beautiful green corridor not yet seen by many residents.
The two leaseholders Sainsbury’s and M & G Real Estate have generously surrendered their leases in favour of the Canal & River Trust which owns the freehold.
Thanks also go to CRT for its technical evaluation and the permit to proceed. With the area forming part of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, it has kindly agreed to maintain the new water space.
Chief executive Richard Parry said: “The Midlands canals form the heart of the UK’s waterways network and have gone from playing a vital role in the Industrial Revolution to the vibrant spaces enjoyed by both boaters and waterside communities today.
“The Canal & River Trust is committed to preserving this important heritage and is pleased to work with the Lapal Canal Trust in taking care of this valuable new water space.”
This work is only possible because of the generous support of the 50 charities, companies and individuals who have helped to fund the project. The larger funders are Veolia, Garfield Weston, Headley Trust, Landsec, Unite Students, the Cadbury Family Trusts, Jabbs and Rowland Trust. The complex legal arrangements were managed by Gowlings WLG who have supported our project over many years.
The Lapal Canal Trust is now focused on raising the further funds required to complete the restoration to Harborne Lane Bridge, which must be completed by 2025.
The project is supported by the Community Partnership for Selly Oak and forms part of CP4SO ambitious plans to preserve the many attractive old buildings in Selly Oak.
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