Successful planning policies and decisions can help to improve people's access to and enjoyment of our waterways. Our waterways provide vital access to green and blue spaces, and can provide significant social, economic and environmental wellbeing benefits for local communities.
Effective planning policy and decisions can help to encourage use of our waterways, which can result in improved wellbeing outcomes for local communities.
Waterways have a role to play in improving wellbeing, inclusion and the prospects of communities and individuals.
Our spaces can provide areas for social interaction, and can enable and support healthy lifestyles through providing access for walking, cycling and waterbourne sports. They also provide direct public access to green and blue infrastructure networks.
Waterways have a significant role to play in promoting health and social inclusion, particularly in tackling physical inactivity, obesity and in reducing stress. This is especially true for the many disadvantaged communities who have waterways on their doorstep.
Our waterways provide tranquil spaces, which can also provide areas for personal reflection and stress relief.
Providing spaces for regeneration and economic growth.
Waterways can offer a platform to provide conditions for economic growth and can provide a physical environment that can foster regeneration. Waterways can also help provide attractive working environments.
Our waterways provide strategic green infrastructure, can enhance urban cooling and air quality, and can offer the opportunity to support sustainable energy generation and sustainable freight.
To attract people to our network and to reap the benefits above, it is vital that planning policy and decisions incorporate approaches to make out spaces safe, accessible and attractive.
The Trust are developing a framework to measure the benefits of our waterways, to show the breadth of our impact at both local and national level across a range of cross-cutting themes.
Existing research shows that spending time by the waterways can make people happier and improve life satisfaction, with an equivalent estimated national social wellbeing value of £3.8bn a year.
National policy sets out objectives to promote wellbeing, and we believe this should follow into local policy and decision marking.
Planning policy and decisions can help to ensure that our network can meet its potential in addressing some of the aims set out by National Planning Policy. Examples are provided below:
Local planning authorities and developers may wish to take account of the following issues which could help to realise the above aims of the NPPF.
Each waterside location is unique, and no single design approach is appropriate in all locations. However, we believe that the following guiding principles should be used as a starting point for the consideration of development policy and the design of development:
You can find more detailed discussion about the role of design on our Creating Successful Waterside Spaces page.
We promote the incorporation of design policies that specifically address waterside spaces, which should address the above principles. This would provide improved clarity for both developers and decision-makers as to how the principles of good design would apply to waterside spaces. Such policy could be addressed through:
The Trust has published general design guidelines, which seek to combine good waterside design practices and crime prevention measures based on a clear understanding of the issues involved.
The Trust work with the police locally to make sure new developments are secure. We work with local Canalwatch schemes to make our canals safe and secure.
We welcome approaches that would help to improve signage and pathfinding towards our network. This could help provide opportunities for local communities to discover our waterway spaces, and the advantages they would bring.
Approaches towards the promotion of walking and cycling, including the formation of strategic policy, could consider the value of our towpath network, which can provide safe, traffic-free routes for people to travel and exercise.
You can find out more on green infrastructure provision, including policy examples and case studies.
Waterways have a role to play in building energy and environmental resilience, and supporting transition to a low carbon economy. See more information on how policies and decisions could take this into account.
Effective policy wording, that recognises the benefits and promotes positive development next to our network would allow planners and developers to identify the positive role our network can play for local communities, which can then positively influence detailed proposals in proximity to our network.
Should effective policy be in place, then planning decisions should result in positive outcomes and will maximise the wellbeing benefits of our network for the nation.
Last date edited: 19 November 2020