Delight as plans to restore major stretch of Chesterfield Canal given the green light

Chesterfield Canal volunteers say they are ‘delighted’ after councillors unanimously voted to approve plans to restore another key stretch of the historic waterway.

Tuesday, 27th April 2021, 12:16 pm
Updated Monday, 4th October 2021, 4:33 pm
Plans to restore another major section of Chesterfield Canal have been given the green light by councillors

Chesterfield Borough Council’s planning committee has given Chesterfield Canal Trust the green light to transform a 1.6-mile section of the waterway between Staveley and the edge of Renishaw.

All 14 members of the committee voted to agree with the officers’ recommendation to grant permission with conditions.

The trust amended the original plans for the stretch between Eckington Road and Bellhouse Lane, in Staveley, following negotiations with HS2 which initially said the two projects were ‘incompatible’.

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The restored canal currently ends at Eckington Road Bridge in Staveley, where the Chesterfield Canal Trust’s volunteer Work Party has built a new lock and restored a further 300m of canal

Changes include adding an additional lock underneath the existing Eckington Road bridge, allowing the water level to drop to an acceptable level in which it would not pose a flood risk to the proposed HS2 link to a maintenance depot on the old Staveley Works site.

Chair of the Chesterfield Canal Trust, Peter Hardy, said: “We are delighted that our planning application has been approved. This is a substantial step on the path to achieving our ambition of reopening the canal fully by 2027.

“We would like to put on record our thanks to our many supporters and partners who have backed us so far and who we know will stick by us in the exciting years ahead.”

Plans to restore another major section of Chesterfield Canal have been given the green light by councillors

The restored canal currently ends at Eckington Road Bridge where the Trust’s volunteer Work Party has built a new lock and restored a further 300 metres of the canal.

The new section, which will extend the navigable section of the canal within the Chesterfield borough by a third, is part of the Trust’s ambitious goal to open up the canal from Chesterfield to the River Trent in time for its 250th anniversary in 2027.

It will go through a disused railway line and across the Doe Lea Valley and include a three-metre wide towpath alongside the canal so walkers, cyclists and mobility scooter users will be able to join boaters, canoeists and paddle boarders in enjoying the new route.

As a sign of how important the development is to the Trust, last year it appointed George Rogers as development manager – its first ever paid employee.

Plans to restore another major section of Chesterfield Canal have been given the green light by councillors

Rod Auton, Publicity Officer for the Trust, gave thanks to Mr Rogers as well as others who have supported plans to restore the canal.

"There is still much work to be done until the actual construction can begin, but passing this hurdle is very encouraging,” he said.

“The Trust is particularly grateful to all the members of the public, numerous organisations and politicians that have expressed support for the restoration of our beautiful canal. It is particularly indebted to its Development Manager, George Rogers, for the hundreds of hours that he has put into bringing us to this stage.”

Chesterfield Canal originally opened in 1777, running 46 miles from Chesterfield to West Stockwith and on to the River Trent.

The restored canal currently ends at Eckington Road Bridge in Staveley, where the Chesterfield Canal Trust’s volunteer Work Party has built a new lock and restored a further 300m of canal

It was used to transport various materials such as coal, lead and limestone from Derbyshire, as well as other more general merchandise.

However, in 1909 traffic along the canal started to decline following the introduction of railways and in 1968 only 26 miles of the waterway from Worksop to the River Trent remained navigable.

Since the late 1980s, work has been underway to restore the canal with approximately 8.5 miles left to be restored between Staveley and Kiveton Park – the recently approved planning application relating to the remaining section within Chesterfield borough.

Chesterfield Canal Trust is hoping to start its ‘Rewatering Renishaw’ project in the coming months, which will bring a further 1,000 metres of canal back to life.

Once completed it will bring lots of opportunities for tourism to the area, including the hire of dayboats, weekend boats, canoes, paddleboards and cycles and, in turn, a need for more pubs and cafés.

Plans to restore another major section of Chesterfield Canal have been given the green light by councillors

Mr Auton added: “The next few years will see an incredible transformation along the canal which will bring a massive economic boost to the area. It is our hope that the Chesterfield Waterside development will also continue, including opening the canal basin.

"This would connect the town directly into the beautiful, green and tranquil oasis that is the Chesterfield Canal.”

Marking his approval to the plans, Coun Keith Miles said: “I think this is a brilliant project. It’s another project that puts Chesterfield and Staveley on the map as somewhere you need to visit.”

Coun Paul Mann said: “I think this is a key, not just for Chesterfield and Staveley, but for everyone in general and the public are looking forward to it."

Coun Barry Bingham added: “Judging this application on its merits, I think it is absolutely brilliant what they are doing and I just hope I live long enough to see the full restoration of it because if I do and there’s a boat trip from Chesterfield to West Stockwith I’ll be one of the first to book my ticket.

"I think it’s great and it’ll be a great asset for the whole area.”

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Plans to restore another major section of Chesterfield Canal have been given the green light by councillors