DEBATE: For and against proposed canal and boat lift in Northamptonshire

A computer design of how the narrowboat lift may look
A computer design of how the narrowboat lift may look

With Daventry District Council spending £110,000 this year on a planning application for the controversial boat lift, we ask those for and against the lift and the canal arm to lay out their views on the topic.

FOR: Cllr Chris Millar, Conservative leader of DDC...

The proposed new canal arm is part of this Council’s vision to encourage visitors to Daventry and contribute to major regeneration and development of the area.

At 2.6km long, the canal arm would be built to the highest standards and would call for innovative construction techniques in order to safeguard and improve the local environment. This would provide opportunities for local businesses to develop and sell a range of skills, from design, manufacture and construction to operations and support.

It would also build upon the district’s canal heritage. In 1793 an Act of Parliament was passed, which allowed for the building of the Grand Junction Canal’s main line (now Grand Union canal), from Braunston to Brentford. The Act allowed for a branch from the Braunston summit to Daventry. It was never built but, more than 200 years later, the Daventry Canal Arm would see a branch built on similar lines.

As the centrepiece to this innovative engineering project, we are proposing the construction of a unique boat lift. This modern, significant landmark would allow boats to traverse a 12-metre change in height. Together with two locks elsewhere it would accommodate the 18-metre height difference between the Grand Union Canal and Daventry town centre. But it would also create a tourist attraction of national – and possibly international – significance, putting Daventry district on the map and possibly drawing even greater numbers of visitors than the Falkirk Wheel, which attracted more than three million people between 2003 and 2009.

The ultimate aim of the Daventry Canal Arm and boat lift is to deliver a waterfront area to Daventry town centre. Positioned off Eastern Way, the Daventry Waterspace would offer a vibrant extension of the town centre, blending leisure, residential, office and community use. A destination for boaters and shoppers, it would help attract big-name stores to the town as well as investment from businesses, hotels and educational establishments. This would help Daventry town centre to deliver a more attractive offer by adding value and variety to the available utilities, services and amenities, for the good of the district as a whole.

AGAINST: Cllr Wendy Randall, leader of the Labour opposition on DDC...

Many residents will know that I don’t believe that the canal arm and boat lift would be a good use of money especially in these difficult times.

Sitting on the canalside watching a canal boat go by is very relaxing.

Sitting on the side smelling diesel fumes whilst the boat is in reverse throttle to turn around is not!

The proposed boat lift has been compared to the Falkirk Wheel in Scotland.

The Falkirk wheel was designed to bridge the gap that was originally linked by 11 locks, allowing the boat to continue its journey saving hours in time.

The boat lift proposed in Daventry will lift the boat from the canal into a dead end, saving no time for onward travel.

Many people may well drive to Daventry to see the boat lift, but would they then venture into the town? It seems a complete and utter nonsense to even consider this.

Eastern way is a lovely green open space and I would prefer to see it developed into a wonderful park and recreation area. We could have a water feature. An outdoor pool would be amazing but even if we had a splash area that would be great.

We need an attraction and facilities for all ages and that will regularly bring people with families into our town.

Our Tory led council had a vision with the idea of a canal arm in 2004. Times have changed a lot since then but it seems DDC is stuck in a time warp.

DDC should hold a public consultation which fully engages all residents of this town, and really listens to the needs and aspirations of those that live here.

We need to understand the business plan for the canal arm. We need to know how it will be funded, how will the maintenance costs be met and what will the long term benefits be to local people.

Valid questions that require honest answers.

Our lovely town centre is tired, tired and in need of some real TLC.

It’s 20 years since the street furniture and posts were painted. What was once a lovely red is now a dull faded pinky colour. Cleaner streets and effective weed control. All maintenance that can be carried out while DDC carries out a comprehensive consultation.