The Trust was successful in achieving outline planning permission for the whole of the canal line in August last year after a grueling and intensive four year process requiring substantial investment of time and professional fees and surveys. But the cost was worth it to secure the line that the canal would take. With this in the bag the Trust has been able to make more detailed plans on a section by section basis. These plans have been submitted to Derbyshire County Council for consideration within the Derbyshire wide infrastructure plan currently being updated. David Hayes, Secretary to the Trust’s Executive Group, explained “to get our project included in the county’s infrastructure plan massively improves our prospects. It will mean that all future developments will be undertaken in an integrated fashion around our project. We become part of the joined up approach that the County will adopt to major infrastructure developments. We expect this to aid us in raising future funding.

Studying the plans submitted it is clear to see that the project is enormous in scale – especially for volunteers, however passionate they may be. But recent history shows it can be done. The Derby and Sandiacre is only the second project nationally to achieve outline planning for the whole canal in one application. The other was an application for the Droitwich canal – and that canal was fully restored and opened for business last year. The Derby Trust is following the successful approach at Droitwich and elsewhere by breaking the project into bite sized chunks that can be tackled individually, one by one, until the line is complete.

So which of these bite sized chunks will be a priority? Chris explained “ By breaking the project into sections we can react to changes in circumstances such as offers of assistance from building contractors and developers and of course availability of funding. Whether it is developer led privately funded projects or grant funding becoming available we need to be in a position to seize the opportunity. But until that happens we are actively progressing the four sections most likely to move forward first: Pride Park, Chellaston, Spondon and Sandiacre.”

The Derby Arm Readers may remember earlier reports by the Telegraph of the boat lift engine proposed by the Trust to get boats from the canal line down to the river level. The Trust cites the example of a new boat lift created with £10m of Millenium Lottery funding at Falkirk. The “Falkirk Wheel” lifts boats filled with day trippers up 30 feet and attracts 500,000 visitors each year. Remarkably it is the second most popular tourist attraction after Edinburgh Castle and has been since 2001. The project was one of the last to be completed by the Butterley Engineering Company at Ripley and was so efficient that it could complete the lift using just 5 kW of power – that’s enough to boil 5 kettles!

Mike Wood, Principal of architects ADDC of Derby, and consultant to the Trust explained that considerable interest had been shown by the developers considering uses for land opposite Pride Park Stadium. Mike is confident that Derby could at least match the success of the Falkirk Wheel and the revenue from so many visitors would finance the build of the “Derby Arm” boat lift and creating a navigation channel up the Derwent to the city centre. “We can see tremendous economic benefits to Derby in attracting tourists to our Silk Mill – the world’s first factory – and the Derwent Valley Heritage Site not to mention the impact that boat traffic on the Derwent would have on invigorating the RiverLights project. No other city of our size turns its back on the waterway running through it.”

Chellaston The Telegraph has already reported the developments of the Sinfin Moor Technology Park. In order to gain access to the new park traffic is expected to be directed from the A50 junction at Chellaston and it will need to cross the canal line to do so. The crossing coincides with the canal crossing Cuttle Brook and so the prospective bridge would dominate the park and residential area. The Trust are discussing how their route might be modified so that the bridge height can be lowered and become much more acceptable to local residents. As part of these discussions the Trust will incur additional cost which it hopes would be met by developers allowing a stretch of canal to be put into water.

Spondon The Trust has tremendous levels of support from the Spondon community and has always looked on the Spondon stretch as an early win. The most likely route for operation is joining with developers to jointly fund the canal restoration. Developers can gain by using an adjacent canal as the required leisure component meaning more of their land can be used for house building and the sales value of houses close to water can be 20% more than others. But of course house building will not happen until the local economy improves.

So the Trust is looking to find grant funding to kick start this area, which runs for about 1.5 miles from Megalaughton Lane in Spondon to Station Road, Borrowash and is expected to cost up to £2m. The obvious source now that the Olympics have been funded is the National Lottery, which has funded this type of project in the past. To succeed the Trust will need to put forward a compelling case to spend the money on this project, but it believes that the excavation of the lock chamber at the Borrowash end of the section will restore a structure that was uniquely upgraded early in the last century. It will also meet the aspirations of the residents of Spondon to provide a focus south of the A52 to bring the community back together. In the meantime Trust members continue to make an impact on the ground by laying and restoring hedges and continuing with plans to restore the winding hole (boat turning area) at Station Road Spondon. All this will help demonstrate the support when funding is applied for.

Sandiacre The final stretch runs from the Erewash Canal to Springfield Avenue in Sandiace, a distance of over half a mile. The section is complex and needs to deal with sewer pipes and a bridge in need of repair as well as the restoration of two locks. The plan is to take the canal under Longmoor Lane where there would be a turning and mooring area. Chris explained “There are a lot of engineering issues to be dealt with, but the Trust would be delighted to restore a length that can be accessed by boat traffic from the Erewash canal. This would then make subsequent stretches so much easier to progress – the first section is always the most difficult – and could provide a base for trip boats to generate some modest income. Most grant funding requires matched funding (say 30%) to be found elsewhere, so a source of own income becomes very valuable.”

Funding The Trust’s record in attracting funds has been good to date with success in all but one application submitted – and the failure was an application for £25m, which was judged to be in the top 20% of applications. However the Trust recognises that applications may now be required on a more regular basis and a longer term strategy needs to be developed. That’s why they are commissioning Funding People, a Community Interest Company based in Mansfield, to develop the strategy and hone the Trust’s applications to maximum effect. Funding People come highly recommended from success with the Chesterfield Canal restoration and understand the various sources of funding and the restrictions and requirements of each.

So it seems there’s a lot happening on the Derby and Sandiacre Canal. As Chris pointed out “We are seeing a surge in interest from the community. Memberships have increased and attendances at our monthly meetings at the Wilmot Arms in Borrowash now regularly attract over 50 people. The success in achieving planning permission has envigourated our supporters and the skills that they offer will undoubtedly be used in the restoration work.” But the big question is when will it all happen. Chris adds “ There’s no certainty in a project of this size, but with the pace of activity now seeming to pick up daily we expect to have funding and the necessary permissions in place to start digging out one of the sections above during 2013. Everyone is keen to know when it will be complete, and judging for other similar schemes we are looking at 10 to 20 years, so there’s plenty of hard work ahead of us yet.”

Chris Madge Chairman DSCSociety, Trust Director 07827 946444
Steve Jeffery Chairman of DSCTrust 01332 200388
Mike Wood Architect 01332 842120 07932 021559
Paul Turner Director and Founder 01159 496838, 07710 324800
David Hayes Secretary 01332 662963

As a result of the Trust releasing its plans for the future following the granting of Outline Planning Permission a series of articles has appeared in the Derby Evening Telegraph to great effect, please click here to see them