New marina opens in Audlem

Michael Hunt

A new marina with moorings for over 200 boats, near Audlem in Cheshire on the Shropshire Union Canal, has opened.

The Overwater Marina provides 206 long term and 21 visitor moorings for narrow boats.

In January last year, Janet and Angus Maugham were granted planning permission to build the marina and facilities on Coole Lane including a boat workshop, tea room and a small shop.

A total of £400,000 from the Rural Development Programme for England, funded by Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the European Union, was put towards the scheme.

Along with Natural England and the Forestry Commission, the North West Development Agency is responsible for delivering the Rural Development Programme for England in the North West. RDPE is investing £374m in the region, £75m of which has been allocated to the NWDA. The remaining £299m is being delivered by Natural England and the Forestry Commission.

Overwater MarinaJanet and Angus Maugham wanted to diversify from their dairy farm business and approached the NWDA for support to create an inland marina.

Janet Maugham said: "The marina needed a serious financial and personal investment from my family over the last few years but it has been a labour of love. There is a significant shortfall in the number of marina moorings available on the canal network compared to the demand and Overwater will help to meet this need.

"We are already getting lots of bookings from boaters and we are thrilled that the marina is finally open. I would like to thank the NWDA for helping us achieve our ambition."

Throughout the planning and pre-construction process the family has sourced materials, goods and services locally wherever possible. This includes advertising signage for the marina, a website which was developed by a web design company from Audlem, and the initial site investigation works which were undertaken by a local excavation business.

David Hunter, head of rural development at the NWDA, said: "The RDPE seeks to create a strong sustainable rural economy and farm diversification is a key part of achieving this."

The NWDA said it is anticipated the £2.7m development will encourage canal tourism within Cheshire and the region as a whole. The regional development agency said there are now a record 32,000 boats on British canals and rivers and demand for boating has increased by an average of 2.6% every year over the last 15 years and is expected to continue to grow over the next 10 years.

Many inland marinas in the UK have a waiting list and new boat owners often have no alternative other than to take moorings on the banks of the waterways themselves. To ensure the local waterways remain open, off line marinas such as Overwater Marina, are being encouraged by British Waterways.

British Waterways, however, made a decision to close a 60-mile stretch of the Leeds-Liverpool canal because drought conditions meant water needed to be saved.

Narrow boat owners were told the section of the canal from Wigan, Greater Manchester, to Gargrave in North Yorkshire, could not be used.

British Waterways said water supplies from the seven reservoirs which feed into the Leeds-Liverpool canal will be cut off during the closure.

The Rural Development Programme for England is jointly funded by the Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. It was launched in 2008 and will run until 2013.

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