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Craven District Council's Policy committee agrees £200,000 funding for canal towpath

Craven District Council's policy committee has agreed to contribute £200,000 towards a project that would improve accessibility along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal for local residents and enhance the waterway as a visitor destination for walkers, cyclists, boaters and canoeists.

Canal path

The council's contribution would provide match funding for a bid written jointly by the Canal & River Trust and the council to the Rural Development Programme for England.

If successful, the £1.78 million project would improve the quality of the canal towpath from Skipton north-west to Gargrave, and the stretch from Bradley south to the border with the Bradford District - a total of 13.5km.

In addition, the investment would provide better facilities for boaters, improved access for canoeists and new signage and interpretation along the length of the improved stretch.

Councillor Simon Myers, Craven District Council's lead member for Enterprising Craven, said: "This is an exciting project; these proposed improvements would enable an increased number of visitors and businesses to benefit from the historic Leeds Liverpool Canal as it makes its way through North Yorkshire.

"With improvements to pedestrian and cycle accessibility and visitor facilities, the project would encourage people to stay longer and spend more.

"There is still a long way to go, as the Canal & River Trust's funding bid needs to be approved; however we are pleased to be able to take this step forward to deliver these much-needed improvements."

Nick Smith, Enterprise Manager at the Canal & River Trust said: "The District Council's approval is great news.  It enables our charity to continue to work in partnership with the Council to further develop our application for funding and helps to ensure these canal towpath improvements are made for the benefit of both the local community and visitors to the area."

The Rural Development Programme for England is a European funding pot managed by Defra that has allocated funding for projects that will create and improve infrastructure for outdoor activities, create and develop infrastructure to enable visitors to move around the area and improve facilities to encourage visitors to stay longer and make return visits.

The project would also integrate a programme of business and marketing support that will help local businesses understand how they can benefit from the infrastructure works, as well as informing them of the services required by boaters, canoeists and walkers and the opportunities for joint working between businesses.

The council's contribution will be funded from the New Homes Bonus Reserve, using money previously allocated to projects that would improve the accessibility and quality of the Leeds Liverpool Canal corridor.

The decision to allocate the funds to this project will now need to be approved by full council on August 1.

Craven District Council and the Canal & River Trust have previously worked together on a £450,000 project, funded by the Department of Transport, which helped to improve the canal towpath between Skipton and Bradley in 2016.

If the bid is successful following its submission the proposed works would be delivered during 2018 with the Canal & River Trust being responsible for delivery and ongoing maintenance.