City region ‘should make more of natural assets’

A new report by British Waterways calls on councils in Greater Manchester to do more to exploit the benefits of canals and rivers to the local economy.

The report, to be discussed next week by the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities' planning and housing commission, claims 13.7 million tourism, recreation and functional visits were made to the canals in Greater Manchester in 2009. This produced £39m gross direct spend in the local economy, rising to £50m if indirect visitor spend through the supply chain is taken into account. British Waterways, which will become the Canal & River Trust in April 2012, said the canal corridor supports 1,300 leisure and tourism related jobs in Greater Manchester.

However, the reports states: "No overarching strategy for the inland waterways of Greater Manchester currently exists. As a result, the opportunities that this valuable and treasured network presents remain unrecognised and untapped and it will continue to under-perform.

"Over the coming months British Waterways intend to engage all existing and potential partners with a view to integrating the canals and rivers within the strategic planning for Greater Manchester to ensure they maximise their contribution to its future growth."

Among BW's recommendations are the following priorities:

  • Regeneration of waterways to be fully integrated in strategic planning across the Greater Manchester Combined Authority
  • New canal-side developments to maximise the interaction with waterways and an improved canal corridor environment
  • Policy makers to use Policy Advice Note: Inland Waterways for guidance on how
  • waterways contribute to the economic, social and environmental agendas.
  • Identify priority stretches of waterway where investment will support economic growth and Greater Manchester's transition to a low carbon economy.
  • Demonstrate the value of waterways to Local Transport Plan and Local Sustainable Transport Fund priorities, working with Transport for Greater Manchester
  • Market waterways of Greater Manchester to maximise visitor potential, including currently underused and unmanaged waterspace

View the full report online here

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