Proposals to protect vital canal wharves in Leeds, potentially getting thousands of tonnes of freight off the roads and on to the canal network, have received overwhelming levels of support.
Leeds is blessed with a remarkably well-connected and still navigable canal network and, while most people now associate them with pleasure cruises and walks, our canals could once again become major transport links.
Leeds City Council has proposed to give canal wharves and railway sidings protection under planning regulation to protect them from inappropriate development, thereby depriving the city of sites that could be used to transport goods into and waste out of the city.
A consultation on the council’s proposed Natural Resources and Waste Local Development Framework received an overwhelming level of support for protecting canal wharves. As a result, the council is doing further work on planning for freight by canal and rail to try and sort out some issues over land use.
A single barge can carry up to 750 tonnes of goods – taking a staggering 35 lorries off our roads and reducing the impact on the environment.
However, traditionally there hasn’t been sufficient protection for sites adjacent to the canal and rail sidings and, as a result, they have been lost to ‘higher value’ uses such as housing.
Following the response to its consultation, the council has now approached Network Rail on developing a plan and hopes to work with the Commercial Boat Operators Association to see what its members’ needs are. The council will work with the owners of these sites and interested parties to ensure that any development is appropriate, and although not all sites may be suitable for longer-term use as freight depots it is hoped that where possible these may be retained. It is hoped protection for these wharves and sidings will continue into the final proposals due later this year.
Councillor Andrew Carter, leader of Leeds City Council and executive board member for development, said:
“These canals once carried the lifeblood of Leeds and we hope that by protecting wharves from development they may once again have a big part to play in our city’s prosperity.
“It is pleasing to see that many others support these proposals as well.
“As alternatives to road and air transport become increasingly important, we believe it is vital that we preserve wharves which could be used by companies to bring goods into and export waste out of our city.”
For media enquiries please contact:
Michael Molcher, Leeds City Council (0113) 224 3937