Memorandum by the Shropshire Union Canal
Society (PGP 27)
THE PLANNING GREEN PAPER
The objectives of our organisation are the restoration
of the Montgomery Canal and to promote interest in the past, present
and future of the 158 miles of canals that comprise the Shropshire
One of the consequences of our objectives is
that we have an active interest in planning applications affecting
the canal corridor.
Our major difficulty with the present planning
system is that the Shropshire Union Canal network runs through
four county council areas, one unitary authority area and part
of Wales. Within these authorities are many local authorities
each of which takes a different position with regard to both the
canal and to our society. Some are very cooperative and always
inform us of planning applications bordering the canal, others
tell us nothing and, because the canal is a linear structure,
it is difficult for us to be aware of planning applications not
directly notified to us.
The proposal for Regional Planning Guidance
would not entirely solve the problem as canals run across even
The introduction of business planning zones
would be welcome in the context of canalside sites as this would
enable the criteria for the whole zone in relation to the canal
to be determined at the outset and avoid a series of applications
with each one having to be scrutinised for its impact on the canal.
Although British Waterways is an advisory consultee,
in practice, in the Shropshire Union area, it normally only comments
on technical matters with regard to planning applications near
the canal. Whilst this is to be welcomed it does nothing to provide
guidance on aesthetic and similar considerations.
There is also a problem, because the canal passes
through the areas of so many authorities, with regard to the status
of the canal corridor. For example, the southern end, thanks to
the co-operation of the Staffordshire authorities is designated
a Conservation area, except for the short length, which although
of equal merit, happens to pass through Shropshire. Some structures
are listed as Grade II historic structures, some not, again because
the listing is under the control of different local authorities.
To add to the confusion we have had two instances within the last
twelve months of local authorities not even being aware that the
canal was in their area.
It would seem to us, because of the unique character
and linear nature of the canal system throughout the country,
that the canal system should be subject to a more unified national
approach in a similar way to National Parks. Indeed, it would
perhaps be apposite to designate the canal system as a National
Park in view of the way in which its regeneration is being seen
as a national asset in terms of recreation, nature conservancy
and tourism. The proposed reform of the planning system could
perhaps be used as an opportunity to introduce specific measures
to deal with the canals.
R M Hall Esq