Regeneration and investment
Canal makeover set to encourage more people to walk and cycle around Walsall Borough
£2.38m is being invested to improve canal towpaths across Walsall and Bloxwich
With a £2.38m Towns Fund investment to improve active travel on canal towpaths, Walsall Council is working in partnership with the Canals & River Trust on a series of major improvements to the canal network within the Walsall and Bloxwich Town Fund areas.
The project, which is part of a wider programme including improvements to highways, together aim to improve active travel connectivity between Walsall town centre, Bloxwich high street, and local employment sites, is set to be completed by the end of 2023.
The planned construction works across the canal network will deliver a range of improvements including new footpaths, low level lighting, CCTV, signage and safety improvements to access and exit points.
The aim is to not only improve active travel in the region, but to provide choices to how people travel around, safely walking and cycling, which helps to improve air quality and the overall perception of the area.
“ The Towns Fund gives us an exciting opportunity to drastically improve the area and encourage people to use our wonderful canals for exercise and travel.
The canal network in the West Midlands was once the envy of the world and they provide a fantastic opportunity for better travel and connectivity between communities and nature. These improvements will make the canals more desirable and, most importantly, safer for people to use
“ Research shows that quality and availability of active travel infrastructure is an important factor in encouraging more people to walk and cycle. The towpaths in Walsall offer excellent routes with many connections between communities and business centres however in recent years they have declined and are in poor condition.
The work we are undertaking will greatly improve the accessibility of our towpaths to enable everyone to use the routes safely and with confidence. The installation of solar lighting along the towpath will enable people to walk and cycle confidently and safely in the winter months and the resurfacing of paths will make them accessible for all ages and abilities.
This investment provides an exciting opportunity to improve our canals and encourage people to use them and I am excited to see the finished product
The Towns Fund is part of the Government’s £3.6bn Levelling up Programme which will see regions around the country make major improvements over the coming years.
The areas that will benefit from these improvements are; a section of Walsall Canal including the Canal Basin, the towpath along Rushall canal, Wyrley and Essington Canal from Sneyd Wharf to Stubbs Bridge and from Hildicks Bridge to the Town Fund boundary, with a portion of the tow path in this area having already been resurfaced.
Councillor Andrew and James Dennison reflect on the plans to improve canal towpaths in Walsall
Notes to editors
Walsall is a Borough undergoing real transformation, creating a wealth of opportunity. There is a shared ambition to deliver well connected, attractive places where people are proud to live and work and where businesses want to locate; where there is a strong mix of housing for all our residents, where our communities are well served and all of our residents have the best life chances.
To fulfil this potential, more than £500 million of investment has been attracted and schemes are either under construction right now or have planning consent confirmed.
Canal & River Trust (Registered charity number: 1146792) was formed in 2012 in the largest ever transfer of public assets to the voluntary sector. The purpose of the Trust is to protect, manage and improve the nation’s canals and river navigations. We look after 2,000 miles of waterways and thousands of listed structures
Total Towns Fund amount: £2.38m, this is split as follows: Bloxwich Towns Fund £1.623m and Walsall Towns Fund £0.757m.
The total Towns Funding allocated to Active Travel and Connectivity is £4,622,000. £2,380,000 of this has been allocated to CRT to improve canal towpaths and the remaining £2,242,000 has been allocated to Walsall Council’s Strategic Transportation Team to deliver sustainable transport projects
Outputs and outcomes
- 6.5 km resurfaced towpath
- 13 km Improved shared space active travel routes (towpaths, access + solar)
- More journeys made on foot and/or by bike on canal towpaths
- Improved perception of place
- Health benefits for residents (exercise and air quality),
- improved connectivity between communities and the natural environment
- Resurface 6.5 km of towpaths using an urban specification surface
- Solar low level lighting to 11.7km of towpaths
- Identify and improve / refresh key access points onto the towpath
- Installation of solar demarcation lights into towpath
- Increase of 40% from baseline (TBC) of visitors to canal towpath
- Winter 2021/2 – Green Book Business Case developed
- Spring 2022 – Business Case approved through Walsall’s assurance processes
- Summer 2022 – Walsall project approved by DLUHC
- Autumn 2022 – Bloxwich project approved by DLUHC
- Aug – Oct 2022 – Works Information Package (WIP) produced
- November 2022 – WIP Priced by Framework Contractor (Kier)
- December 2022 – Funding agreements signed
- Feb / March 2023 – Works start on site
- Late 2023 – Project completed