£700,000 boost for canal towpath in Stone
More than £700,000 will be spent on improving the canal towpath between Barlaston and Aston in an ambitious project to encourage cycling and attract tourists.
Stafford Borough Council will contribute £261,870 to the ‘Trent and Mersey Canal Towpath Improvement Project’ this year, with the county council contributing £458,000 over the following two years. The funding means that the whole 7.5km stretch of towpath will be improved.
The project would include towpath resurfacing work between Aston and Stone town centre, then the stretch from Meaford Lock Bridge number 98 through to Bridge 101 and on to the Plume of Feathers pub in Barlaston (Bridge 103). It would include improvements to the towpath in the worst condition opposite the former Meaford Power Station site, which is very uneven and in wet conditions extremely muddy.
A report to Stafford Borough Council’s Cabinet said: “Cabinet has agreed in principle to support improvements to the Trent and Mersey Canal towpath between Aston by Stone and Barlaston, as this route formed part of National Cycle Network Route 5 (NCN5). Such improvements would open access to the Barlaston Downs Banks and would attract visitors to Stone and Barlaston. In addition, an improved towpath would allow workers living in and around Stone the choice to cycle to Trentham Lakes employment area, which lies only a few miles to the north.”
The county council will provide project and contract management for the project, with the work undertaken by its third party contractor Enterprise. The project will get under way in the autumn and is set to work around the boating seasons over three financial years, being completed early in 2015.
British Waterways has invested nearly £1 million over the last four years in major works to the canal from Aston to Barlaston, including new lock gates at Meaford, towpath upgrades through Stone and a partial rebuild of bridges. British Waterways plan to invest a further £137,000 over the next three years for similar works along this stretch.