‘Missing Mile’ of Gloucestershire Canal to be Restored

Part of the Stroudwater Navigation that was lost to road builders half a century ago and is now due to be reopened will be designed by property, construction and infrastructure consultancy Perfect Circle and its extensive supply chain.

Following the Act of Abandonment 1954, a mile long section of the Stroudwater Navigation was destroyed to make way for the A38 roundabout, A419 link road and the M5 in the late 1960s. This section now forms one part of the Cotswold Canals Connected Phase 1B Restoration Project, locally known as the ‘Missing Mile’.

The section of canal through the A38 Whitminster Roundabout has recently been reinstated, thanks to National Highways Designated Funds, who granted The Cotswold Canals Trust £4m towards the ‘Missing Mile’. The next step in this restoration will be to excavate a new canal channel along with the construction of two new locks, one new lift bridge, accessible towpath, flood relief, lowland habitat and wetlands.

Further along the Stroudwater Navigation volunteers will continue to lead the restoration and maintenance and look forward to the canal between Thrupp (near Stroud) and Saul Junction being re-connected to the 2,500km of inland waterways network at Saul Junction.

As a preferred partner of Perfect Circle, Tony Gee has been commissioned to deliver preliminary design, detailed design and on-site supervisory services via SCAPE Consultancy – a direct award framework that drives collaboration, efficiency, time and cost savings. It is our first appointment as part of Perfect Circle.

Tara-Leigh McVey, infrastructure framework director at Perfect Circle, said:We are delighted that Stroud District Council, on behalf of Cotswold Canals Connected has engaged Tony Gee and Partners via Perfect Circle and SCAPE Consultancy to help reinstate part of Stroudwater Navigation that was lost more than 50 years ago.

Waterways are vital for providing economic, social and environmental benefits; as well as being catalysts for regeneration and development, they play a major role in improving the wellbeing, inclusion and prospects of communities. This project will not only help reconnect the ‘Missing Mile’ to the national canal network, but it will provide an accessible walking and cycling route, which will attract more visitors to the area and support the local economy.

Peter Reeves-Toy, director at Tony Gee, said:This crucial project will enhance the cultural heritage, environmental and historic features near the M5 and A38, as well as increase biodiversity, providing over 21 hectares of new habitat. As part of our works, we will be providing preliminary design services for the whole ‘Missing Mile’, including the highway interface with the A419 (where a new mooring basin will be created), the canal, two new locks, pedestrian bridge and the underpass beneath the M5 motorway, as well as the excavation of the canal itself.

“Not only is the project interesting due to the heritage of the canal and the importance of waterways to communities, but from an engineering perspective, it’s a real technical challenge. To avoid the disruption and cost caused by constructing a purpose-built canal crossing beneath the M5, the existing underpass used by the River Frome will be used to create a new canal channel alongside the river, albeit with a lower water level than the river to provide the necessary headroom.

The Company of Proprietors of The Stroudwater Navigation were authorised by Act of Parliament in 1730 to build the canal, which opened in 1779. It connected the market town of Stroud, in Gloucestershire, to the River Severn, with its main cargo being coal. Following the opening of the Thames and Severn Canal in 1789, it formed part of a through-route from Bristol to London.

Due to competition from the railways and the Act of Abandonment granted in 1954, permission was given to release part of the Stroudwater channel, including Bristol Road Lock, to enable the construction of the M5 link road and the A38 roundabout.

The ‘Missing Mile’ is one of 40 major engineering and restoration projects that together form the Cotswold Canals Connected Phase 1B (a partnership project led by Stroud District Council and the Cotswold Canals Trust; together with other key organisations including Stroud Valleys Canal Company, Gloucestershire County Council, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and Stroudwater Navigation Archive Charity) they are preserving the heritage and building the future of the historic canal corridor.

Glenn Dooley, Cotswold Canals Engineering Manager, said: “Working through the SCAPE framework has provided the opportunity to engage with the professional services of local consultants, Tony Gee & Partners. Their team is based alongside the project and therefore understand the importance of this project to the local community and the benefits the restoration will provide”.

The SCAPE Consultancy framework offers direct access to the most extensive property, construction and infrastructure consultancy services available to the Public Sector. The procurement route brings together the strongest collaborative team with value for money, while contributing substantially to local social value.

Mark Robinson, group chief executive at SCAPE, said: “Reinstating the ‘Missing Mile’ on the Stroudwater Navigation will bring back to life a lost piece of history and make it an asset for modern times, boosting the local economy and environment. Tony Gee and Partners via Perfect Circle and Cotswold Canals Connected Partnership are creating a public amenity that won’t just bring pleasure to the local community but give wildlife a safe haven through biodiverse environments. We are very proud to be helping accelerate this project and look forward to seeing it progress.”

For more information on Perfect Circle, please visit www.perfectcircle.co.uk.