Waterspace strategies

A waterspace strategy is an important planning and design tool for the proper integration and optimum use of the waterspace within wider development proposals.

We recognise the need to adopt a spatial approach to encouraging more activity, life and vitality on the water and to secure the utilisation of the adjoining waterspace to any waterside development site. As a result, the Canal & River Trust has pioneered the waterspace strategy concept aimed at informing local authorities, developers and their design teams of the range of moorings and uses that any particular waterspace do and can support and to identify the land-based implications of such uses. 

For example:

  • buses/taxis, waterborne freight opportunities
  • watersports and other water-based recreational uses (such as angling)
  • land-based uses being accommodated in either static converted barges or purpose-built floating structures (both on and offline) to add vitality and life to, and enhance the character and profile of the waterway.  For example, residential boats, business boats, trade boats (such as floating cafes, restaurants, art galleries, hotels)
  • ensuring the 'added value' of the waterspace is fully explored - that it is not just a visual backdrop to the surrounding development but becomes a leisure and commercial resource and facility in its own right
  • encouraging the view that waterside development should be designed to incorporate the towpath as a sustainable transport and recreational route and the waterspace itself as integral parts of the scheme
  • ensuring that the Canal & River Trust is able to maintain its statutory obligations to maintain and operate the navigation and to ensure the safety of those using the navigation
  • identifying business opportunities that can be taken by others or in partnership with the Canal & River Trust.

Waterway Strategies should consider waterways at a number of spatial levels to ensure issues of the network and the local waterway are properly addressed.

These spatial levels can include:


Screen shot of transregional mapConsidering how waterways connect the regions and how they contribute to the national waterway network in providing attractive and sustainable waterway routes for boaters, walkers, cyclists and other waterway users.





Screen shot of regional mapConsidering the roles and functions of waterway destinations and facilities within the region, identifying gaps and opportunities to promote waterway use, and improve the relationship between communities and waterways.




Screen shot of citywide mapConsidering the functions of waterways sections within a city area establishing an appropriate thematic approach to waterway and waterside development





Screen shot of local mapAddressing site-specific waterspace design issues, promoting appropriate and sustainable links between waterway and waterside activity. 

Last date edited: 18 November 2020