A scheme to improve a significant part of the towpath along the Kennet & Avon Canal, between Sydney Gardens and Bathampton, is to go ahead very soon – funded by grant money from the Government.
The towpath is one of the most heavily used sections on the canal and is popular with pedestrians, cyclists, anglers and boaters.
Working in consultation with local ward councillors, Bath & North East Somerset Council has developed proposals in partnership with the Canal & River Trust which include improving the surface and widening the towpath where possible, as well as undertaking necessary tree maintenance.
Following public consultation, 68% of respondents said suggested changes would make a considerable improvement to the current condition of the towpath.
Cllr Anthony Clarke (Conservative, Lansdown), Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “I would like to thank everyone who shared their views through the public consultation. These improvements will provide strong links between residential areas on the east side of Bath and the city centre, thus integrating the canal and towpath into the fabric of the city centre.
“We’re keen to get on with delivering these improvements for the benefit of all users, as well as committing a further £88,000 over the next two years to increase cycle parking across Bath and North East Somerset to help get more people onto bikes – for commuting and for leisure – encouraging a healthier lifestyle.
The new surfacing will provide a hard, durable all-weather towpath appropriate to its rural setting.
The new surface will also benefit people who have a range of mobility and visual impairments. The design will be carried out in conjunction with the Canal and River Trust, and will be in accordance with its guidance on good practice.”
“Although there was a clear majority of respondents in favour of the improvements, I recognise that a number of walkers are concerned that these changes may be detrimental to them. It is for that reason that the Council will continue to monitor usage of the towpath and ensure that the interests of all users are maintained.”
The Virtual Museum caught up with Cllr Clarke and – if you are a towpath user – it might be worth your while sticking with this interview to the end.
Let’s start though at the beginning and find out how this windfall money will be spent.