Plans to build 200 berth marinas at 2 already busy spots on probably our busiest canal, when there are empty berths on adjacent marinas, have boaters and local residents worried. Isn’t it time CRT took some responsibility for planning, since its brief is ‘to protect (waterways) for future generations’?
UPDATE 3rd July 2014; the IWS Shrewsbury and North Wales Branch which does not support the Wrenbury application is calling for volunteers to help build its case against the proposed development. Peter Brown, Planning & Heritage Office for IWA Shrewsbury & North Wales Branch, is leading the initiative and intends to put together a volunteer rota comprising of half-day shifts to undertake the boat count over the period 19th July to 10th August. If you would like to contribute to the boat count please contact Peter Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Original report below was first published November 2013.)
A new application has been made for planning permission to create a 200 berth marina on the Llangollen Canal in Wrenbury behind the popular Cotton Arms pub. It follows the withdrawal of plans last year for another marina to be built a little further west near Wrenbury Heath Bridge after many local objections. A development is expected to be considered in the New Year to develop another 200 berth marina just 20 miles away at Ellesmere Wharf.
The Wrenbury marina would occupy a 2.37 Hectare site and have a 200 berth basin with pump out facilities, lighting and landscaping, fuel pump and storage and waste pump out, a new canal connection to the Llangollen canal with new two path bridge over connection, a main sewer connection, a facilities building to include incidental or ancillary uses such as boat hire/timeshare and brokerage, marina management offices, toilet, shower and laundry block, chemical effluent and household waste disposal/recycling facilities and cafe with retail space and public toilets. A footpath would need to be resited and possibly some of the existing camping and caravan site behind the Cotton Arms lost.
At a recent public meeting in Wrenbury over 100 residents expressed concerns that development would ruin the rural nature of the village and the area will be spoiled by what is essentially an industrial unit, with all the traffic and noise that goes with it.
Wrenbury is well known to boaters as a bottleneck because of the slow and difficult to operate electric lift bridge with a awkwardly sited hirebase and boatyard immediately adjacent on a sharp corner. Local hire boats are frequently moored on visitor moorings by the bridge, making stopping at the attractive Cheshire village and its two pubs often difficult. The exit from the new marina would be very close to the congested area. It is not known if the current hire base would move onto the new marina. Road congestion caused by the bridge opening is already a problem, and the increased road traffic to the marina would mean longer delays. There is a suggestion, apparently from the developers, that the bridge could be closed to boat traffic for 3 hours each day.
As we reported recently – ‘More Marinas Despite Fifth of Berths Vacant’- new canal marinas are still being built and planning applications approved across the network despite a 20% oversupply of berths with few marinas being able to make a profit and many having been up for sale for long periods. Moorings are available on all three marinas adjacent to Wrenbury and detailed plans are expected for another 200 berth marina at Ellesmere Wharf, which would also include a 120-bedroom hotel, featuring a restaurant, lounge and bar areas, leisure spa with a swimming pool, fitness suite, indoor sports courts and bowling green, and a garden centre.
The very beautiful Llangollen Canal is unfortunately increasingly considered a ‘no-go’ area by many experienced boaters in the Summer months because of the lengthy delays at locks caused by the large number of hire and private boats seeking its charms. Hire boaters are sometimes advised to cruise early morning and later in the day to avoid the jams.
Despite the problems of traffic congestion caused by marina location and berth oversupply, British Waterways attitude to new marinas was that they were unable to restrict developments and that ‘market forces’ would regulate demand. The Banking Crisis showed us all how effective ‘market forces’ are at regulation! Surely it is time that the Canal and River Trust, with its tagline – ‘Our canals and rivers are national treasures, rich in history and wildlife. We’re here to protect them for future generations’, must take a more proactive stance in guiding developments on our waterways.