Memorandum by British Waterways (PPG 16)
British Waterways owns and manages approximately
2,000 miles of inland waterways (that is, canals and river navigations)
including inland marinas, docks and 89 reservoirs. Virtually all
British Waterways owned network is accessible to the general public
via the towing path. British Waterways Act 1995, Section 22, places
environmental and recreational duties on British Waterways which
include public access.
In June 2001 British Waterways provided a written
response to the consultation on the revision of PPG 17 expressing
our concern. The essence of the BW's response was that the draft
contained insufficient recognition of the real and potential contribution
of waterways, waterbodies and towing paths to sport and recreation.
It is our understanding that this memorandum will be viewed in
conjunction with BW's written response to the consultation on
the revision of PPG 17.
DETR publication "Waterways for Tomorrow"
(2000) explicitly refers to increasing the economic and social
benefits offered by the waterways by encouraging people to make
use of the inland waterways for leisure and recreation, tourism
and sport and by supporting the development of inland waterways
through the planning system. Moreover, this publication made a
Government commitment to "continue to review each PPG when
it is revised with the aim of developing the potential of the
inland waterways through the planning system".
As the draft revision of PPG 17 stands, it does
not fully address the issues and opportunities related to water-related
recreation and waterway-related recreation as well as to the role
waterways and waterbodies can perform as open space. The role
and value of waterways (canals and rivers) and other waterbodies
(inland marinas, docks, reservoirs and lakes) as recreational
and sport resources are explicitly referred to in the DETR publication
"Waterways for Tomorrow" (2000). Furthermore, waterways
and towing paths fall into most informal recreation categories.
It is important that waterways and the towing path network is
not just viewed as recreational routes but also as recreational
spaces/open spaces in their own right. Therefore the PPG needs
to clearly define the term "recreational space", that
is, water as well as land.
The PPG should acknowledge the vital need to
protect and develop the infrastructure that sustains open spaces
as recreational assets such as marinas, boatyards, moorings, slipways
etc which provide access and facilities for those wishing to use
the water space. It is crucial that the PPG advises Local Authorities
to maintain, develop and enhance the existing waterway infrastructure
to ensure enjoyment and sustainability of waterways and waterbodies.
Ironically, the reference to shortage of mooring facilities on
inland waterways as referred to in the current PPG 17 has now
been omitted, which attempted to partially address this issue.
This omission illustrates how the draft revision of PPG 17 does
not fully address the issues and opportunities related to waterway-related
British Waterways should be referred to as a
statutory body with environmental and recreational duties including
public access. The Government
requires British Waterways to encourage adjoining landowners and
authorities to participate in jointly enhancing value of the waterways
by the regeneration and provision of facilities that:
are to the benefit of the general
improve the recreational, amenity
and community value of the waterways for boaters, anglers, walkers
British Waterways, therefore, request that British
Waterways is cited as statutory body and is listed under the address
of relevant agencies.
DETR publication "Waterways for
Tomorrow" (2000) has been omitted from the list of useful
REVISED PPG TO
1. British Waterways welcomes the inclusion
of the reference to improve the waterway network ("river
and canal banks") as potential green chains and green links
and as sustainable transport routes that form an integral part
of the local open space network. However, the PPG under "Recreation
Requiring Water and Natural Features" excludes reference
to the potenetial use of non operational docks and reservoirs
as well as the full range of sport and recreational activities
that inland waterways and other waterbodies can accommodate:
towing path and associated waterside
landeg leisure cycling, jogging, walking, bird watching.
Long distance footpaths and heritage trails;
river navigations and canalsrowing,
dinghy sailing, canoeing, angling, private pleasure boaters, holiday
hire boaters and pleasure trip boaters;
reservoirs and lakessailing,
sub aqua, wind surfing, canoeing and angling.
dockssailing, canoeing and rowing as well as powered watersports
such as water ski-ing and jet ski-ing.
For example, British Waterways, Stockton Borough
Council, OneNE and English Partnerships are currently exploring
the concept of developing the Tees Navigation (Tees Barrage Reach
section) as an international watersports destination and as a
means of developing sport tourism.
2. PPG should widen the interpretation of
the definition of "open space" to include waterways
and waterbodies, as they can perform multiple functions as open
space. Waterways and waterbodies:
have strategic functions linking
metropolitan areas, urban areas, market towns, accessible and
remote rural areas and thus providing for recreational needs over
most of the country;
are an important accessible amenity
in urban areas. Furthermore waterways have been recognised by
the DTLR as being important catalysts for both urban and rural
accommodate active sport and informal
recreational activities and the towing path network provides opportunities
for people to walk, cycle or ride and thus, promote health and
are important wildlife corridors
often linking towns with the countryside and thus provide important
stepping stones from one habitat to another;
are an important community resource
for example, programme of regular water festival events including
youth events as well as providing access to the countryside from
urban areas via the towing path network (acting as a recreational
provide an important visual amenity,
for example provide an attractive setting for development, particularly
3. PPG should promote and protect the towing
path and waterway network as recreational assets of regional importance.
British Waterways support Sport England's view that water recreation
is an issue best addressed at regional level as inland waterways
transcend administrative boundaries (including cities, towns and
countryside including urban fringes, green belts, green wedges,
national parks and SSSIs).
PPG TO THE
1. PPG needs to advise local authorities
to specify on their Local Plan's Proposals Maps and in the accompanying
schedules, waterways and other waterbodies as "sites that
are of a particular quality, function or value for recreation".
2. PPG needs to advise local authorities
in preparing development plans to give consideration to protecting
and promoting disused and infilled (completely or partially) canals
as recreational routes and spaces and not to prejudice future
3. PPG needs to advise local authorities
to give consideration to the use of planning conditions, obligations
or agreements as tools to secure waterway, towing path and access
improvements and ongoing maintenance, secure canal restoration,
provision of new moorings and mooring basins, new footbridges,
etc. Management and ongoing maintenance are key issues relating
to long-term use of the towing path network as safe recreational
and sustainable transport routes. Therefore, there is a need to
encourage the local authorities to:
enter into maintenance agreements
with British Waterways;
ensure all waterside development
sites include access and towing path improvements (including provision
of new footbridges) are an integral part of the proposals within
the planning application, transport assessment and green transport
ensure ongoing maintenance of the
towing path forms an integral part of an overall site management
plan and associated maintenance regimes through planning condition
or planning obligations;
secure commuted sums for ongoing
maintenance of towing paths through planning obligations; and
secure the provision of new moorings
and mooring basins to meet identified shortfall and need of such
facilities in the area.
4. This PPG needs to cross reference to
the new PPG 13 with respect to:
In Annex B of the PPG 13 the Government
advises local authorities that in drawing up development plans
and determining planning applications, they should seek to re-use
disused wharves and basins, to retain boatyards and other services
used in connection with water-based recreation;
The Government advises local authorities
that in drawing up development plans and determining planning
applications, they should ensure new development does not prejudice
current restoration proposals or proposed restoration schemes
for disused lengths of canal;
Mitigating the Impact of New Transport
Infrastructure. The siting and location of motorway bridges, other
major road bridges and railway bridges can have visual and environmental
impacts on potential towing path users for informal recreation
purposes, as well as, economic impacts on the existing water-based
leisure industry and on opportunities for recreational and tourism
PPG IS SUCCESSFUL
1. Waterways and waterbodies is a form of
open space that can successfully accommodate land-based recreation,
as well as, land and water-based sport uses. The PPG would be
more successful in reconciling open space with sport and recreation,
if inland waterways were more strongly promoted within PPG and
that the definition of "open space" included in the
PPG gives proper reference to waterways and waterbodies.
2. It is important that local authorities
when assessing the range of existing and future needs for sport,
open spaces and recreational facilities in their areas take account
of the role and value of waterways and waterbodies for both land-based
and water-based recreational activitities. Eg water sports, angling,
recreational cycling and walking, etc.
1. Inland waterways are an amenity within
urban areas and can create a more attractive residential environment.
2. British Waterways suggests that PPG cites
waterways and other waterbodies as canals, river navigations,
inland marinas and docks act as catalysts for regeneration.
Furthermore, British Waterways believes that waterways can contribute
to achieving more efficient use of urban land and re-use of previously
developed sites. By utilising waterways as being an informal recreational
resource (that is, use of the existing "water" to provide
the recreational/open space requirement rather than the traditional
use of "land" for the recreational/open space provision),
densities of development could be raised. The guidance needs to
encourage Local Authorities to ensure development and regeneration
schemes fully optimise the "added value" of the waterspace
as an informal recreational resource in its own right rather than
waterways just providing an attractive setting to development.
3. Inland waterways and other waterbodies
have an important role to play in developing social inclusion,
sustainable transport as well as improving the quality of life
of both urban and rural communities.
1. With respect to provision of facilities
in rural areas, there are extensive opportunities to maximise
the utilisation of waterways as an important local recreation
and tourism resource in market towns, accessible and remote rural
areas. Furthermore, waterways and waterbodies contribute to the
creation of an enterprising countryside partly through greater
opportunities for the urban dwellers to gain access to and enjoy
the countryside as well as for rural communities themselves. PPG
needs to promote waterway corridors as environment for rural recreation.
2. Waterways and waterbodies have inherent
constraint in that they are not "footloose" assets (face
similar issues as country houses that are also not "footloose"
assets). Therefore, in some cases, leisure and recreation facilities
such as indoor leisure facilities, marina/ mooring basin developments
may be necessary in the green belt and open countryside, in order
to support and develop the use of waterways as recreational resource.
PPG TO ACHIEVING
1. Many sections of waterway act as linear
urban parks, form regional and local country parks (eg Lee Valley
Regional Park), water parks (eg Cotswold Water Park) and many
waterways adjoin formal parks and informal areas of open space.
The waterway performs an essential linking between such public
provision, while acting as a stepping stone (connecting habitats)
and "green lung".
2. Many sections of urban waterway corridors
remain under-used. Recognition of this valuable linking within
a specific package of proposals for improving urban parks would
enable Local Authorities, British Waterways and our partners to
accelerate the regenerative effect of inland waterways within
3. Enhancement of waterways and towing paths
should be cited as an example of scheme that could be funded through
the Green Spaces and Sustainable Communities initiatives.
20 DETR published "A Framework Document for British
Waterways" (February 1999) & "Unlocking the Potential-A
New Future for British Waterways" (February 1999). Back
The DETR publication "Waterways for Tomorrow" (2000)
explicitly refers to increasing the economic and social benefits
offered by the waterways by promoting the waterways as a catalyst
for urban and rural regeneration. Back