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Craven District Council

Skipton town centre canal towpath works nearing completion

Work to improve the canal towpath in Skipton town centre, along with the Canal Basin and Springs Branch, is nearing completion.

Through the scheme the District Council’s contractor, O’Callaghan Ltd. has resurfaced and widened over 800 metres of towpath including relaying 150 metres of flagged towpath adjacent to Victoria Mill, benches have been refurbished and repositioned, and new wooden recycling and general waste litter bins have been installed. Visitors will also benefit from new signage with more interpretation of the town’s canal heritage planned during 2020.

The last stretch, between Gawflat (Aireville Park) and Brewery Bridge, will reopen on Christmas Eve for the Christmas and New Year holiday following completion of the surfacing works. Minor works and snagging will take place during January 2020.

At the Canal Basin laying of new stone flags was completed in September, creating an improved space for events festivals. Repairs have also been made to the Springs Branch towpath, along with improvements to the garden at Mill Bridge.

Councillor Simon Myers, Craven District Council’s lead member for Enterprising Craven, said: “I’m delighted to see the improvements to Skipton’s canal waterfront. It looks fantastic and will provide an improved traffic-free route for people to walk to work, schools and college, and access shops, leisure facilities and services around the town.

“The towpath had become worn over the years and we have now improved a number of areas to make this important route through the town more accessible for all people, in all weathers.

“We’d like to thank members of the public, businesses and boaters for their patience while this work has been taking place.”

The project was funded by the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership. The works form the first part of the £5m Growth Deal project that also include improvements to Engine Shed Lane, water management along Ings Beck and Gallow Syke and the preparation of a masterplan around Skipton Railway Station.

David Dickson, Chair of the Infrastructure and Joint Assets Board for York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership, said: “Towns like Skipton play a vital and distinctive role in the future of our economy.

“Across our vastly rural geography, they are centres for services, businesses and communities. We need to invest in the future of our towns to ensure that they keep pace with a fast changing world. This project forms a first and important step in a wider LEP investment in the Skipton area that will help to grow the local economy by providing new employment opportunities and revitalising the town centre.”

The final design for the scheme was agreed with the Canal & River Trust, the waterway and wellbeing charity that looks after the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. Work is being carried out by Blackburn based contractors, O’Callaghan Ltd.

Jane Thomson, Canal & River Trust’s enterprise manager for Yorkshire & North East, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Craven District Council to deliver improvements to our canal network. We want as many people as possible to enjoy our canals and rivers as possible, and as a charity we do rely on the support of our volunteers and third parties such as local councils. The efforts of Craven District Council to improve this key site along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal has been very welcome.”