Agenda item

Lancaster Canal Regeneration Partnership: Financial Contribution towards Towpath Trail

To consider support of the development and delivery of the Towpath Trail along the Lancaster Canal route.




The Economy, Culture and Leisure Portfolio Holder presented a report on the Lancaster Canal Regeneration Partnership (LCRP): Financial Contribution towards Towpath Trail.


The report set out the variation to the Council’s funding contribution, which was aimed at securing match funding to continue the Towpath Trail surface upgrades, forming part of the wider improvement and enhancement of the Towpath. Members’ attention was drawn to the request from LCRP for SLDCs’ contribution to focus on the Stainton to Crooklands section of the canal, rather than the Kendal to Natland section as previously agreed.


In proposing the recommendations as set out in the report, the Economy, Culture and Leisure Portfolio Holder highlighted the opportunity to develop an active travel route way.


Members expressed support for the proposals to enhance the Towpath, as it was a well-used and important part of local history and felt that the improvements would benefit residents’ health and wellbeing.





(1)        the variation of the £120,000 Towpath Trail financial contribution to improvements along the wider canal route within the South Lakeland district boundary be approved;


(2)        the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) financial contribution of £80,000 towards the Towpath Trail be approved; and


(3)        a grant agreement be entered into with the Canal and River Trust to distribute the allocated £200,000 funding and for thisi to be delegated to the Director of Customer and Commercial Services in consultation with the Monitoring Officer and the Economy, Culture and Leisure Portfolio Holder.


Reasons for Decision


The decision links to the following Council Plan Priorities:-


Working across boundaries – South Lakeland is delivering sustainable economic growth in the north of England with exceptional quality of life. The Council is intervening to deliver strategic development sites within its communities and working with partners to deliver critical infrastructure. The Council is working to attract funding to deliver this critical infrastructure and promote unique value propositions. The Towpath Trail proposes an enhanced leisure route for walking, low mobility and cycling that would link Kendal to rural communities including Natland, Sedgwick, Stainton, Hincaster, Crooklands, Holme and Burton-in-Kendal southwards to north Lancashire villages, Lancaster and eventually on to Preston where the Lancaster Canal ends.


Delivering a balanced community – the proposed enhancements will increase opportunities for people of all ages and abilities, including young people and the elderly, to access leisure amenities and services by means other than motorised transport.


A fairer South Lakeland – improved cycling and walking routes will promote health, wellbeing and help tackle poverty by providing healthy and lower cost alternative ways to access amenities, services and for recreation purposes.


Addressing the climate emergency – the proposed enhancements will facilitate more journeys on foot or by bike, and therefore reduce reliance on carbon-producing transport.


Alternative Options


That Cabinet does not support the ambitions of the LCRP and the Towpath Trail, and that a financial contribution is not made towards the proposed enhancements. This is not the recommended option as this is an important leisure project across South Cumbria and North Lancashire with health and wellbeing, active travel, rural connectivity and heritage central to its ambitions.


That Cabinet does not agree to the slight variation of the funding to a wider section of the canal towpath and instead remain committed to achieve the original ambitions of the Kendal-Natland section. This is not the recommended option as part of this section has now been upgraded, and it would miss the opportunity to secure match funding from partner organisations for the section further south in the Crooklands area, and deny this section of towpath the upgrades it desperately needs to improve accessibility of the trail.


That Cabinet do not agree to the CIL contribution. This is not the recommended option as it will put the project deliverability at risk and will miss the opportunity to secure match funding and deliver strategic green infrastructure in line with the CIL important priorities and projects.


That Cabinet wait for LCRP to complete their governance review with the possibility of granting the financial contribution directly with the LCRP. This is not the recommended option, as the governance review is not seeking to shift LCRP towards a capital delivery organisation equipped at delivering surface improvements on third party land. It should also be mentioned that, even if the governance review were completed at this time, it would still be the recommendation that funding is granted directly to Canal and River Trust as a strategic LCRP partner and the landowner in question for the stretch of Canal in the Crooklands vicinity that is the subject of this Cabinet report.

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