Idea just 218 years in the making for canal

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A NEW canal arm in Daventry which was first mooted in 1793 is one step closer to becoming a reality as planning permission is sought to create a two-mile stretch of waterway.

Plans will be submitted to Daventry District Council in the next few weeks for a new arm of the Grand Union Canal, half a mile south of Braunston Tunnel.

The plans were first proposed in 1793 in the Grand Junction Canal Act and are a key element in Daventry District Council’s master plan for town centre redevelopment.

A new association has been set up to pursue the project and will have their first meeting on Friday, March 11, where ways of getting the project, which is estimated to cost in the region of £10 million, off the ground.

Dean Hawkey, spokesman for The Daventry Canal Association, said: “Obviously, this is a difficult time in which to develop a new canal. Councils are short of funds, development companies are wary of making commitments, but Daventry District Council is convinced the new canal will be self-financing, once built.

“If we were to rely upon conventional development methods, construction could take forever. The trick will be to marshal volunteer resources to make it happen,” he said. I’d like to see the new association seek out sponsorship. That was never available in the heyday of canal building but today sponsors might be keen to be associated with a unique green development.”

Simon Bowers, the council’s corporate manager for development and property, said: “All around the UK canals that were derelict or even completely lost have been restored and rebuilt, creating places people enjoying being around and magnets for inward investment.

“Finally building the Daventry Arm after a gap of more than 200 years is in principle no different. It will greatly add to the attractiveness of the town to local people, visitors and businesses.

 “We remain committed to the construction of the canal, and will continue to seek external funding for it. We also welcome the efforts of the Daventry Canal Association and looks forward to a constructive working relationship with it.”

Daventry MP Chris Heaton-Harris said: “I am in favour of anything that brings outside money into Daventry to make it a better place and to create more jobs.

“I don’t want to see taxpayers money spent on this but I think we can get investment. I think it will just give the town that little bit extra.”

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