Canal makeover set to encourage more people to walk and cycle around Walsall Borough

With a £2.38m Towns Fund investment to improve active travel on canal towpaths, Walsall Council is working in partnership with the Canals & River Trust on a series of major improvements to the canal network within the Walsall and Bloxwich Town Fund areas.

The project, which is part of a wider programme including improvements to highways, together aim to improve active travel connectivity between Walsall town centre, Bloxwich high street, and local employment sites, is set to be completed by the end of 2023. 

The planned construction works across the canal network will deliver a range of improvements including new footpaths, low level lighting, CCTV, signage and safety improvements to access and exit points.

The aim is to not only improve active travel in the region, but to provide choices to how people travel around, safely walking and cycling, which helps to improve air quality and the overall perception of the area.

Councillor Adrian Andrew, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration at Walsall Council, said: “The Towns Fund gives us an exciting opportunity to drastically improve the area and encourage people to use our wonderful canals for exercise and travel.

“The canal network in the West Midlands was once the envy of the world and they provide a fantastic opportunity for better travel and connectivity between communities and nature. These improvements will make the canals more desirable and, most importantly, safer for people to use.”

James Dennison, Enterprise Manager (Black Country and Staffordshire) at Canal & River Trust, said: “Research shows that quality and availability of active travel infrastructure is an important factor in encouraging more people to walk and cycle. The towpaths in Walsall offer excellent routes with many connections between communities and business centres however in recent years they have declined and are in poor condition.

“The work we are undertaking will greatly improve the accessibility of our towpaths to enable everyone to use the routes safely and with confidence. The installation of solar lighting along the towpath will enable people to walk and cycle confidently and safely in the winter months and the resurfacing of paths will make them accessible for all ages and abilities.

“This investment provides an exciting opportunity to improve our canals and encourage people to use them and I am excited to see the finished product.”

The Towns Fund is part of the Government’s £3.6bn Levelling up Programme which will see regions around the country make major improvements over the coming years.

The areas that will benefit from these improvements are; a section of Walsall Canal including the Canal Basin, the towpath along Rushall canal, Wyrley and Essington Canal from Sneyd Wharf to Stubbs Bridge and from Hildicks Bridge to the Town Fund boundary, with a portion of the tow path in this area having already been resurfaced.

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