Part of a derelict stretch of canal in Cannock is to be sold for just £1 to a restoration group hoping to bring it back to its former glory.
The Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust (LHCT) is spending £50 million on opening up miles of the former Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal.
Now, the group wants to purchase the former canal at Wedges Mills in Cannock from the district council. Permission to sell the land for just £1 is likely to be granted by Cannock Chase Council’s cabinet at a meeting on Thursday.
LHCT vice-chairman David Dixon said today: “This piece of canal is part of a jigsaw. The overall project involves Hatherton Canal. It goes from the north of Bloxwich via the south side of Cannock through to Calf Heath.
“This piece of land in Cannock is something we need to go towards completing the project. It’s a long-term project.”
The LHCT is planning to restore seven miles of the Hatherton Canal. It has already built new locks along part of the route.
The canal is currently under water for only the first two miles from Calf Heath. Only a very short section is currently navigable. Much of the remainder of the canal alignment has now been in-filled and lost to redevelopment.
The entire restoration project is earmarked to finish some time after 2020, depending on how quick the LHCT can get the funding. The group is looking to get money from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The stretch at Wedges Mills is only about 1,312ft long.
Mr Dixon continued: “We’d like some sections open before that but it depends on funding. It’s a gradual process. We want to open the Hatherton Canal up to walkers, cyclists and boats, of course.”
Cannock Chase Council acquired the Hatherton Branch canal from the British Waterways Board in 1963.
In a report to cabinet it states: “The proposal by the Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust to restore the canal will contribute to the council’s service aim to deliver community regeneration and development through creative, tourism and leisure industries and use of natural resources.
“The land in question has no market value as it can only be used for the purpose of a restored canal and therefore has no alternative use value.”
The Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust was formed in 1988 as a registered charity.