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14 February 2011, 16:49
Aylesbury Vale District Council has pledged its full support for the restoration of the disused Buckingham Canal, which closed down in the 1960s.
The Buckingham Canal Society (BCS) would like to see the waterway restored and reopened, using the original route wherever possible, and is seeking to develop partnerships with landowners, local authorities and other organisations to help it achieve its aims.
At a meeting of AVDC’s cabinet on 8 February, following a short presentation by the society and Councillor Pearl Lewis, members gave their backing to the restoration plans and approved a partnership agreement with the BCS.
The council will now work to:
• Keep BCS informed of any consultations on plans and strategies, or other opportunities for the canal society to contribute to the development of its plans
• Provide advice on grant funding opportunities and assist BCS in applying for funds
• Consider opportunities to provide the canal society with equipment and materials
• Introduce the canal society to other organisations that may assist its restoration plans
The project is likely to have a positive social and economic impact on the area as well as being of environmental benefit. Restoration of the canal would provide new employment, create a range of leisure opportunities, increase the diversity of the natural environment and preserve important structures and artefacts.
Councillor David Thompson, Cabinet Member for Leisure at AVDC, said: “The restoration of the canal is a large and ambitious project, but one that AVDC is proud to support. During, and on the completion of the restoration of the canal, it will create a fantastic waterside environment that will bring real benefits to those living and working in Buckingham and the surrounding area. We look forward to working with the canal society to help take the project forward.”
From its opening in 1801, the canal was used to transport bricks, coal and manufactured goods as well as imports from the London Docks. It also provided transport for agricultural produce from the farms and villages along its route.
The waterway to Buckingham ran a total of just under 11 miles from the Grand Union Canal at Cosgrove Lock along the Stony Stratford and Buckingham Arms. The original route passed through Old Stratford, Deanshanger, Thornton, Leckhampstead Wharf, Thornborough Mill, Maids Moreton Mill and Bourton Meadow.
Much of the canal is now dry, and parts have been built over. Certain sections of the route would need to be created anew due to the development that has taken place in and around villages since the canal’s closure.
Early in 2010, BCS commissioned an outline feasibility study regarding the restoration of the entire length of the canal arm. The report concluded that it was a feasible project, although significant funding and commitment will be required.
Terry Cavender of the Buckingham Canal Society said: “The support for the restoration from the district council through this partnership enables us to further demonstrate the community support for the project. This support is essential when making fundraising applications to grant giving bodies to enable the progression of the restoration project. Along with our existing partnerships, such as those with British Waterways, Buckinghamshire County Council and Buckingham Town Council, the support of AVDC is viewed by the society as a major step forward as we move into the delivery phases of the restoration work.”