A project to revamp Leicester’s canal towpaths making it easier for people in the north of the city to feel the health and wellbeing benefits of spending time by the water has just been completed.
The scheme has seen engineering works around Holden Street and towpath improvements up to Belgrave Lock. The widened and resurfaced path will make it easier and more appealing for local people to incorporate some time by the water into their daily routines. The improved path will provide a green, traffic-free route into the heart of the city for walkers, cyclists and people with buggies.
New mooring rings have been installed by Wolsey Island to encourage more visiting boaters to stop and see the attractions of North Leicester such as the Abbey Pumping Station, Belgrave Hall and the Space Centre.
We are carrying out the works in partnership with Leicester City Council. It’s the latest phase in a project funded with £750,000 from the Local Growth Fund, following a successful bid to the Leicester & Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) by the Trust, Leicester City Council and Environment Agency. Earlier phases of the scheme have seen 3km of towpath improved from Evans Weir, by Soar Island, to Abbey Park and boating facilities installed at Friars Mill and Memory Lane Wharf.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “Our waterways are a jewel in the city’s crown.
“The Canal & River Trust has led a very ambitious programme of improvements to our canal towpaths which has created a really attractive route for walkers and cyclists, improved boating facilities and helped protect a valuable haven for local wildlife.
“The work is part of an ambitious vision to further improve access to the city’s waterways, continue to develop the existing nature conservation work, and create new locations along the riverside for people to visit and enjoy.”
With ever increasing rates of obesity, diabetes, and other debilitating conditions – and rising levels of stress, anxiety and other mental health conditions in the UK - the Trust believes waterways are uniquely placed to make a significant contribution to improving the wellbeing of the nation.
Phillip Mulligan, regional director for the Canal & River Trust, said: “Independent research shows that spending time by the waterways can help us all feel happier and healthier so the improvements that we’ve seen to Leicester’s towpaths in recent years will make a very real difference to the lives of local people.
“These latest improvements will extend those benefits to people living in the Belgrave area. Whether it’s a green, traffic-free route to work, a place to keep fit or just a quiet place to de-stress, the canal is on the doorstep and free for everyone to enjoy.”
Anil Majithia, LLEP Board Member and Chair of the Canal & River Trust’s Regional Advisory Board in the East Midlands, said: "I'm pleased to see this investment along Leicester and Leicestershire's canals, which has greatly improved the look and accessibility of the towpaths. Investment in infrastructure to improve the quality of life of people in our region has a knock-on effect for business and enterprise. A happier, healthier workforce can only be a good thing for the local economy, so I'm proud that the LLEP was able to facilitate this project.
"The Local Growth Fund has allowed the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership to invest in infrastructure projects all over our region. These improvements to the canal towpaths go hand-in-hand with improved flood defences along Leicester's waterside, and investment and regeneration in this area."