Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by the Heritage Lottery Fund (IW 68)

THE POTENTIAL OF INLAND WATERWAYS

SUMMARY

  Since its creation the Heritage Lottery Fund has given more than £38 million to inland waterways and inland waterway related projects across the United Kingdom. HLF grant has helped foster productive partnerships and lever in funding from a variety of other organisations. In doing so, we have helped to achieve not only benefits for the rich industrial heritage of our waterways system, but also for regeneration, leisure and recreation, environment and transport, and community involvement.

THE STRATEGIC CONTEXT

  The Heritage Lottery Fund was set up under the National Lottery Act 1993 to distribute money provided by the National Lottery to heritage projects and activities. The Fund is distributed by the Trustees of the National Heritage Memorial Fund. The Heritage Lottery Fund currently amounts to approximately £300 million per annum.

  The aim of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) is to:

    "improve the quality of life by safeguarding and enhancing the heritage of buildings, objects and the environment, whether man-made or natural, which have been important in the formation of the character and identity of the United Kingdom, in a way which will encourage more sections of society to appreciate and enjoy their heritage and enable them to hand it on in good heart to future generations."

  Our Strategic Plan 1999-2002 sets out how we will use lottery money to meet the needs of the national heritage whilst taking account of policy directions given to us by Government. These require us to take account of:

    —  the scope for reducing economic and social deprivation at the same time as creating heritage benefits;

    —  the need to ensure that all parts of the United Kingdom have access to funding;

    —  the need to promote access for people from all sections of society;

    —  the need to promote knowledge of and interest in the heritage by children and young people; and

    —  the need to further the objectives of sustainable development.

  HLF supports the industrial and transport heritage within this context.

INDUSTRIAL, MARITIME AND TRANSPORT HERITAGE

  Since we began our operation, HLF has given more than £38 million to inland waterways and inland waterway-related projects, contributing to total project costs of almost £50 million. This has been spread across 24 projects, which have ranged in size from a grant of £2,500 for the production of a pamphlet to guide visitors around the Waterside Heritage Trail in Londonderry, to £25 million to the Kennet and Avon Canal (described in the case studies later in this submission).

  We have funded: conservation plans and restoration plans; the acquisition, repair and refurbishment of canalside buildings; the restoration and conservation of the canals themselves; the conservation and enhancement of the natural heritage of the waterways; works to interpret the canal and bring its heritage and history alive to visitors; works to improve the quality of the access to the canal.

  In order to comply with our statutory responsibilities and with our policy directions from Government, heritage benefits must be central to an application for it to succeed. To make best use of the available resources our highest priorities lie in repair and conservation rather than in substantial new development. We recognise that projects involving the acquisition, repair, conservation and restoration of buildings, sites, items and collections relating to industrial history and water transport can require significant sums in a heritage sector less well supported by other public funding sources.

  We have allocated £25 million for industrial, maritime and transport heritage in the year 2000-01. Given the demands on this budget, it is clear that a sustained level of lottery funding for the industrial heritage is essential if we are to address the heritage needs in this sector. But education and access have equal priority with conservation in our strategic objectives, and with smaller grants in this area we seek to ensure that, not only is lottery money used to increase enjoyment and understanding of the heritage, but also to build up a constituency for the sector which will ensure its long term survival.

PRIORITIES FOR SUPPORTING CANALS AND WATERWAYS

  Our criteria for supporting canal and waterways projects were determined in 1998 in the light of the review of canal restoration priorities by the Inland Waterways Amenity Advisory Council (IWAAC). HLF welcomed this report as it enabled us to view individual applications within the context of the whole sector and with some sense of future expectations and needs.

  In considering applications for funding for canals and inland waterways we have therefore identified the following priorities:

    —  the historical significance of the canal structure should be central to any application. To assess this significance we take into account logistical importance, date of construction and the extent to which engineering features were innovative;

    —  priority is given to funding individual features of outstanding or environmental importance. Where these provide heritage benefits within comprehensive restoration schemes, it is these features rather than the restoration as a whole which merits support;

    —  we expect restoration projects to take a broad, holistic view of the waterway landscape, and the wider conservation benefits to the linear network of canals;

    —  strong access, regeneration, ecological and education benefits should be demonstrated;

    —  we may be able to assist structures that no longer bring any operational benefit but which are of outstanding historical importance; and

    —  we will only consider support to historic elements of the canals system when financial need can be demonstrated. Applicants will have to demonstrate that other bodies with responsibilities for canals have contributed where applicable.

  We do not normally expect to fund:

    —  large-scale clearance of silted or disused canals, in the absence of clear heritage and other benefits;

    —  construction of new, alternative canal routes or of new structures to replace historic ones, unless they are the key to unlock other heritage benefits;

    —  routine maintenance of canals or canal structures which are in operational use; and

    —  proposals which involve introducing charges for access, for instance charging for bicycles to use a towpath.

CASE STUDIES

  The following are examples of projects where we have funded works to the inland waterways themselves.

New River Loop, Enfield

  The Enfield Town New River Loop was a redundant section of the New River canal, a waterway completed in 1613 in order to supplement the fresh water supply to London. In June 1997 HLF awarded almost £1.8 million to the London Borough of Enfield to restore and conserve this unique historic feature, to the benefit of the community in Enfield and beyond.

  Alongside grant from HLF the Council also received financial and technical support from the Enfield Preservation Society and Thames Water Utilities. The New River Action Group, London Ecology Unit and the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV) also pledged vital support in the preparation of the bid and the implementation of the project. Public consultation was a key factor throughout the project's development process, and the public, voluntary bodies, local organisations and local commerce expressed a high level of interest in and support for the project.

  Most major aspects of the project are now either completed or approaching completion. The involvement of volunteer and community labour and our support has been particularly encouraging, with BTCV having far exceeded its target for volunteer involvement.

Anderton Boat Lift

  In March 1999 HLF awarded a grant of £3.3 million to British Waterways to restore this boat lift (the first effective attempt to create a lift which raised and lowered boats between waterways at different levels) linking the Trent and Mersey Canal with the Weaver navigation. The project provides for the restoration of the working lift based on a modern interpretation of its nineteenth century hydraulic system and the restoration of the 1908 structure as a static exhibit in situ. The landscaping of the site to incorporate comprehensive public access and brings wider community benefits as does the construction of an operations centre to control the working of the lift, manage visitors and interpret the history of the boat lift. As well as British Waterways, funding has also been secured from the local council, the European Union, English Heritage and the Anderton Boat Lift Trust.

Kennet and Avon Canal

  In September 1996 British Waterways, working in partnership with the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust and the local authorities through whose areas the canal runs, were awarded a grant of up to £25 million.

  The project was framed following an extensive consultation process, which revealed much interest in and support for the works to the canal. The project assists in the restoration of a historically important waterway to a fully functioning navigable channel together with 194 listed buildings and structures. Public access will be improved and enhanced through a programme of minor works, interpretation and events and there has been an ongoing programme of consultation with local individuals and private landowners adjacent to the canal throughout. Groups of volunteers will assist in the implementation of the minor works and in the future management of the canal. The production of a Conservation Plan has ensured that all canal works have been informed and subject to rigorous control to ensure the protection of wildlife habitats and to minimise any adverse impact the works might have. Species like the water vole are being encouraged to return following the regeneration of their native habitats along the canal. A volunteer co-ordinator from BTCV has been appointed to manage 6,000 hours of volunteer time. The project aims to complete by the end of 2002.

  A Public Transport and Visitor Management Strategy, produced prior to the commencement of works, will be kept under review beyond the end of the project, as will the economic impact of these restoration works and an environmental monitoring programme.

SANDWELL COMMUNITY LIFELINE

  Sandwell Borough Council were awarded a grant of approximately £1.2 million in November 1999 to enhance the historic canal infrastructure of the Birmingham to Wolverhampton, Old and New Main Lines. The scheme includes repairs to a series of Grade II listed structures and scheduled ancient monuments, improved access points, signage, landscaping, dredging and community involvement through the deployment of three community conservation officers.

  The project is still in its preparatory stages. The application is well grounded in a number of strategies with a strong regeneration component including the Council's corporate regeneration strategy, Unitary Development Plan, heritage strategy and British Waterways Midlands Canal Regeneration Strategy "Renaissance".

  The Council is seeking to maximise the use of the canal network by local people, tourists and boaters and proposing to carry out towpath improvements to the worst affected section to enable use by walkers, cyclists and wheelchair users.

  All these case studies involve partnerships between a number of bodies. They all illustrate the delivery of heritage benefits in tandem with social, economic and environmental outcomes, contributing to a modern, integrated and sustainable approach to future of our waterways.

Heritage Lottery Fund

October 2000


 
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