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Lichfield Canal - Feasibility Study Report

by Atkins (W S Atkins PLC)

Executive Summary

WS Atkins PLC was engaged by the Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust Limited (the Trust) to undertake a study and report on the feasibility of restoring the Lichfield Canal. The report was published in July 2009.

The canal linked Huddlesford Junction, east of Lichfield in Staffordshire, with Ogley Junction east of Brownhills also in Staffordshire. The canal was abandoned in 1954 and the alignment was sold off by the then navigation authority, the British Transport Commission. Most of the canal’s 30 locks were infilled and survive, along with much of the former “track” (the alignment) of the canal. A few of the bridges and other structures are also still extant.

The Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust Limited (hereafter referred to as “The Trust”) was incorporated in 1989. The Trust aims “to promote the restoration of the Lichfield Canal and the Hatherton Canal to reopen links between Staffordshire and the West Midlands, for the benefit of the environment, amenity and prosperity of the people of the region and to enhance the nation’s inland waterway system”.

The Trust has already undertaken or funded major works at a number of locations, including the installation of an aqueduct to carry the canal over the new M6 (Toll) Road during the road’s construction, something which would have been virtually impossible once the road opened.

Restoration of the canal would provide an important link between the East Midlands canals and canals in the Black Country and towards South West England. It is estimated that there would be around 5,000 boat movements per year along the restored canal.

Atkins has completed a detailed study of the feasibility of the engineering works required and the key findings are:

Design parameters have been established and agreed with British Waterways, and recommendations are made regarding construction methods and potential engineering solutions for the structures required.

Where possible, the proposed alignment re-uses existing canal infrastructure to reduce costs and maintain and enhance the heritage value of the “legacy” structures. Detailed proposals are given for each road, railway and watercourse crossing which will be required to complete the restoration.

A proposal for phasing the restoration has been developed and is detailed in Table 2.1.

Consideration has been given to water supply, both on completion of the whole scheme, and in the interim period whilst the various proposed restoration phases are constructed. The water supply (“feed”) requirements of the scheme have been assessed. Whilst potential sources of sufficient feed water have been identified for the scheme, further work will be required to prove the viability of these sources. There are, fortunately, many potential alternative sources of water on the existing canal system at or above the level of Ogely Junction. Further study is recommended which should be taken forward by the Trust and British Waterways to assess the suitability of all the potential water sources (with input from other stakeholders such as the Environment Agency) and to develop a plan which will ensure that provision can be made to feed sufficient water to both the Lichfield Canal and to the proposed Hatherton Canal restoration scheme, which takes some of its water from the same canal pound as the Lichfield Canal.

A detailed account of the proposed route and engineering requirements is give for each phase of the scheme. This can be found in sections 2.4 to 2.8 of this Feasibility Report.

The methodology for developing estimates of construction costs is described, and detailed breakdowns of the cost estimates are included as Appendix A to this Feasibility Report.

Heritage and ecological impacts of the proposed restoration are set out, with details of consultation undertaken and proposals for mitigating adverse impacts. There are few significant adverse impacts, and providing mitigation measures should be relatively straightforward, often using narrow strips of land which will be islanded by the proposed canal and will have to be acquired to facilitate the restoration. The scheme will be beneficial in heritage terms, bringing back into use many historic structures which currently stand without a use, or are buried, and, unlike many canal restoration schemes, very few historic structures will have to be demolished in order to construct the canal to modern standards.

Flood risk has been considered and is limited to a short section at the east end of the scheme where the proposed canal is situated just above and adjacent to the floodplain of Darnford Brook. There will be four main watercourse crossings – two are already in place (one may require repair and possibly capacity enhancement), and the other two will be designed to accommodate the necessary flood flows. A detailed Stage 2 Flood Risk Assessment is recommended.

The planning context, in terms of national, regional and local planning policy, is explored and a way forward proposed which includes a recommendation that the scheme should be put forward for inclusion in the emerging Local Development Framework. The Trust is understood to be making progress in this respect and the availability of the Proposal Maps prepared as part of the study should assist in this regard. A discussion of the development potential of the canal and the surrounding area is provided to inform this process.

An assessment of the socio-economic benefits arising from the restoration of the canal has been made. This includes detailed projections of the likely number of boats/boaters and other recreational users who will make use of the restored canal, and estimates that the annual economic benefit to the area around the canal (and the other canals connecting to the west end of the Lichfield Canal which will see large increases in visitors resulting from then Lichfield Canal Restorations) is around £1.8 million per year. This excludes job creation and secondary supply benefits during the construction phase, and maintenance and operation costs and benefits are assumed to cancel each other out.

Adopting an unadjusted Net Present Value analysis, costs break even against benefits in year 40, so the scheme will have generated benefits equal to the costs of construction forty years after commencement, or thirty years after projected opening of the canal as a through route.

Potential sources of funding are reviewed and it is recommended that these are monitored as the existing funding regimes are in a state of flux at present, so future opportunities should be recognised and seized.

A number of recommendations for further study are made:

Recommendations are also made as to the process for implementing each phase of the scheme. It is recommended that, whilst ensuring that there is sufficient funding available to take advantage of synergies with the construction of the Lichfield Southern Bypass, the Trust should undertake the advanced studies and then commence the restoration in earnest by commissioning outline design of phase 1, and putting together a funding package based on the outline design report and cost plan.

It is concluded that the scheme is feasible and desirable and should be taken forward into the Local Development Framework.

Lichfield Canal  Feasibility Study Report

Published Reports Index





From itemised budget estimates, including fees and construction costs

Phase 1: Huddlesford Junction to Darnford

1.62 km



Phase 2: Darnford to Cricket Lane

1.52 km



Phase 3: Cricket Lane to Lock 18

2.45 km



Phase 4: Lock 18 to Coppice Lane

2.09 km (*)



Phase 5: Coppice Lane to Ogley Junction

4.00 km



* Phase 4 includes much of the bulk earthwork for Phase 5




Risk Allowances




Construction Total



Optimism bias




Grand Total for Phase



Lichfield Canal  Feasibility Study Report Maps

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