AN EXCITING new proposal has been launched aimed at “unlocking the potential” of Chester’s canal and riverside areas.
The Chester Waterways Strategy could bring a huge boost to the city’s economy and will be used as a blueprint to guide development and investment in areas around the River Dee and Shropshire Union Canal.
The glossy document includes input from more than 75 groups, and was developed by Chester Renaissance, Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC), the Canal and River Trust, Inland Waterways Association and Chester Canal Heritage Trust.
The strategy “outlines how the city’s waterways can contribute to growth, investment and the leisure economy, and aims to maximise their potential for the benefit of residents, businesses and visitors”.
It was launched – somewhat fittingly - during a boat trip on the River Dee. If given the green light the ambitious plan could attract thousands of extra visitors to Chester each year, create hundreds of new jobs and rival cities like Birmingham and Manchester where canalside developments have proved hugely successful.
Cllr Bob Rudd, Admiral of the Dee and Lord Mayor of Chester, said: “The strategy is about enhancing the canal and the river, making the most of their potential as key economic and social assets and delivering new connectivity between the city and its waterways.
“The aim is for Chester’s waterways to once again play a key role in delivering growth and vitality for the city.”
The document will complement the emerging transport strategy and cycling strategy, and will provide input to the Local Plan, which guides development.
Some of the strategy’s initiatives are already beginning to take shape, including riverside path improvements and the creation of ‘pocket parks’ to enhance the waterside environment.
The Inland Waterways Association’s (IWA) Chester and Merseyside Branch has long been saying the waterways areas are an untapped gold mine for investment in Chester.
Last weekend the branch organised a campaign festival to raise funds to reopen the river lock leading onto the River Dee.
The branch says that by allowing navigation above the weir to Farndon the basin around Tower Wharf could become a “vibrant” place and kick-start more regeneration projects.
Peter Bolt, festival chairman, said the new strategy could be a catalyst for growth and regeneration of canal and riverside areas.