On Wednesday and Thursday this week a representative from Big Lottery Fund will be visiting the the area of Phase 1b (Stonehouse to Saul) to assess the benefits the project will make to the local community. Whilst visiting locations along the route of the canal the BIG representative will also be meeting a wide range of the many people involved with the project. The Cotswold Canals Partnership has been shortlisted by the Big Lottery Fundís Living Landmarks programme to the final 30, of over 700 applicants, to receive a grant of £16 million towards the restoration of the Cotswold Canals.
If successful, the Big Lottery Fund grant will be used to restore the section of the Stroudwater Canal that links Stonehouse to Saul. Restoration of this section will mean that boats can travel from both Bristol and Gloucester right into the heart of Stroud. The project will provide a community-designed, contemporary canal that will be used as a gateway to the countryside. It will provide a link between rural and urban communities by encouraging joint working and will also provide vast training opportunities both locally and nationally.
With an answer expected from the BIG Lottery Fund in October this year, a successful application would mean that the Phase 1b could be restored, reconnecting Stroud to the main network. The Cotswold Canals Partnership already has funding for Phase 1a from the Heritage Lottery Fund (£11.9 million) and SWRDA (£6 million) and expect to open the section of canal between Stonehouse and Brimscombe by 2009.