Canal improvements at Westport Lake form part of wider £1m scheme

Published: Thursday, 8th February 2018

Work is under way to improve the connection between a popular beauty spot and a neighbouring canal.

It is the first project of a £1 million commitment by Stoke-on-Trent City Council to repair and improve the area’s waterways.

The work being carried out will see a currently unmaintained area between Westport Lake’s visitor centre and the Trent and Mersey Canal landscaped following feedback from users who said the attractions were isolated from each other. Concerns had also been raised about how the canal suffers from poor lighting in the evening. The work will address these issues and open up access to the canal for the public.

The city council’s grounds maintenance team has embarked on a two-month project which will see:

  • proper gravel paths installed between the canal and visitor centre
  • the removal of part of a hedgerow and three trees in poor condition, and the reshaping of other trees, to open up the view between the canal and visitor centre
  • the installation of solar lighting to make the site more user-friendly in the evenings, and to make boats moored overnight feel more secure
  • re-profiling of the steep mounds between the canal and visitor centre and reseeding them with grass
  • planting of the area beneath the visitor centre with aquatic plants to improve the water quality and its appearance
  • the placement of plants on top of the large retaining wall behind the visitor centre to soften its appearance

This is the first canal and waterway scheme to be delivered as part of the council’s capital programme investment for 2018/19. Other planned improvements across the canal network include new moorings and benches, repairing steps and handrails, improving lighting and repairing the canal-side buildings at the Etruria Industrial Museum. The council is working closely with the Canal & River Trust to deliver the work.

Councillor Anthony Munday, cabinet member for greener city, development and leisure, said: “Westport Lake is a fantastic attraction and this scheme is about us looking at how we can make the experience even better for visitors. Having the canal so close to the lake is a real bonus and we should be making the most of opportunities like this.

“The area between the canal and visitor centre is currently unmaintained and blocks the view to and from the canal, but this work will solve that issue. In addition a lot of boat users don’t realise the visitor centre has a shower which is for them to use, with very few aware of the building’s location and how to access it from the canal. This is quite a simple landscaping project which will make a big difference to bringing the two areas closer together.”

Councillor Daniel Jellyman, cabinet member for regeneration, transport and heritage, said: “We really are blessed to have so many canals here in Stoke-on-Trent and we need to look after them. Not only do they encourage people to cycle and walk, which is great for our residents’ health and wellbeing, but they are also a great source of attracting visitors to the city. The work taking place will really bring the lake and canal much closer together visually and encourage a more natural flow between the two. Canals have so many opportunities and investing in them can bring all sorts of benefits to the city.”

David Baldacchino, waterway manager at the Canal & River Trust said: “The Canal & River Trust is delighted to be working with Stoke -on-Trent City Council on these improvements, which are part of the wider canal improvement programme. Westport Lake is a popular location with canal users as well as the wider public so a project like this that brings them closer together is very much welcomed.  We hope to see more people enjoying the lake and the canal in the future.”

Between them, the Trent & Mersey and Caldon Canals stretch for more than 14 miles in Stoke-on-Trent.

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