PRESS RELEASE: Waterway Charities Line up against Supermarket Developers to save Midlands Waterway Restoration

Issue date: 16th April 2013

The Inland Waterways Association has joined local residents in a battle to prevent private developers' wrecking the restoration of an historic West Midlands waterway for the community. 

When plans were first agreed by Birmingham City Council for the proposed new Sainsbury store at Selly Oak, a corridor of land along the route of the old Dudley No2 Canal was incorporated along with restoration of the canal, which would be funded by the developers.  The canal, known locally at the Lapal Canal, would eventually connect with Dudley and Stourbridge, and bring tourists to the lesser visited waterways in South East Birmingham. 

The development partnership has, however, now submitted revised plans to try to wriggle out of its commitment to restore the waterway so that it can intensify the development and make more money.

The Inland Waterways Association, which is the national co-ordinating charity for inland waterways interests across the country, and with thousands of members in the West Midlands, has vowed to oppose the latest moves by developers 'Harvest' and supermarket giant Sainsbury.  Community, heritage and amenity groups throughout the area are putting in objections to the planning application, and local residents are encouraged to make their views known to councillors. 

Les Etheridge, national chairman of The Inland Waterways Association said 'Enthusiasts have been working to restore this waterway, often with their own money, for public benefit, for over twenty years and have been building momentum and support from local authorities, funding bodies and organisations that make the restoration a realistic prospect in the near future.  It is simply scandalous that greedy developers can even think of trashing this community effort just to further increase their profits.  It would be simply appalling if the Council's planners could countenance such a situation.'


Notes for Editors
1. Notes about IWA
2. Full briefing details and photos

3. Submitting Objections:

Full details of the proposal can be found on the Birmingham Planning Website, click on Planning Application Number Search and key in reference  2013/02178/PA.

The closing date for objections is the 2nd May 2013 and they should be addressed to Birmingham City Council, Planning and Regeneration, PO Box 28, Birmingham , B1 1TU.
4. History of the Canal:

An Act of Parliament to construct the Dudley No2 Canal, from Blowers Green near Dudley to the newly promoted Worcester and Birmingham Canal at Selly Oak, was obtained in 1793.  The line of the canal included two tunnels (557 yards at Gosty Hill and 3,795 yards at Lapal), a distance of just under 11 miles.  The line was complete by 1798, but it was 1802 before useful traffic commenced, with connection then open to the Grand Union Canal via the Northern Stratford-upon-Avon Canal.  During its trading years, the narrow Lapal Tunnel was a constraint on traffic and the tunnel suffered from subsidence, closing in 1917.  The tunnel is now crossed by the M5, and parts of the tunnel were in-filled during the motorway construction.  Most of the rest of the canal east of Windmill End was closed by the late 1960s, but the section to Hawne End Basin was soon restored with local authority support, and the canal now benefits from a lively waterway society operating moorings at the basin.  Lapal Canal Trust was formed in 1990 and its long-term aim is to restore the Dudley No. 2 Canal from its current terminus at Hawne Basin, Halesowen, through to its former connection with the Worcester & Birmingham Canal in Birmingham.  Further information available from the Lapal Canal Project website
5. For further information please contact Vaughan Welch

Photo: A stretch of the Lapal Canal
in Selly Oak Park