The Canal Placemaking Study sets out a clear vision for the Grand Union Canal, and its role and character as the regeneration of the area takes shape. It provides guidance for dealing with issues such as safety, cleanliness, biodiversity and different uses of the towpath, as well as a clear approach to moorings and canal-based activities. It has been developed in partnership with the Canal & River Trust.
Our vision for the Grand Union Canal consists of six key objectives:
- Lively bridges - Public activity should be clustered at bridges where people cross the canal and can access the towpath. These should provide opportunities for improved public spaces, access to a variety of nearby permanent or temporary moorings, and support activities for the community.
- Good canal routes - The canal should be a public space for everybody. Access should be easy and legible and bring communities closer to the water. Access from the wider area should be clearer through signage and other interventions. These should recognise the value of the canal's slower 'pace' in relation to its surrounding context and future development and its place in a wider network of routes including alternatives for cyclists who are commuting.
- A Boaters paradise - There is a growing community of residential boats along the canal in Oak and Park Royal, but today this is predominantly informal and lacks supporting infrastructure. This study recognises the potential benefits of a well organised boating community to support the vision for the area.
- Good industrial edges - Large parts of the area surrounding the canal in Park Royal will remain industrial, lined with businesses which today typically don’t engage with the canal positively. Rethinking the ‘backs’ of businesses located along the canal can help to make the canal in Park Royal ‘friendlier’ and improve its biodiversity value and provide wellbeing benefits to workers, local community and visitors.
- A continuous green thread - The canal’s ‘wild’ quality, particularly precious in the city, should form an uninterrupted green edge to the canal, adjusting to its context. It will range from larger nature reserves, pocket parks and planted edges, to floating reed beds, and enrich the area as a site of environmental education.
- A thriving canal community - Opportunities for local businesses and communities to volunteer and engage positively with the canal should be developed. The canal's diverse communities should be helped to care for it in a way that is structured around shared values, behaviours and expectations. Being part of this community should be a pleasure.
The study builds on the vision outlined in the Draft Local Plan and provides additional detail where useful. It will inform future policy and development proposals across the OPDC area.
The study report consists of two parts:
- A research publication outlining the qualities of the canal, drawing on the various interviews and discussions with local community
- A technical publication outlining the vision, implementation strategies, and case studies