CANAL RESTORATION took another major step forward yesterday after permission was granted for a key stretch to be reinstated.

The go-ahead from Stroud District Council's development control committee means reinstatement of the missing section of canal that was filled in during the construction of the M5 motorway in the 1960s, can go ahead.

This will include the construction of a new canal channel from John Robinson (Westfield) Lock at Eastington near Westfield Bridge to connect with the new channel already constructed at the A38 roundabout.

Stroud News and Journal: East of M5 Credit: YouTube Court Above the CutThe scheme in Eastington covers both sides of the M5 and includes a towpath with new pedestrian bridge, a new mooring basin with space for 44 non-residential moorings, and a two-storey building including café and canal basin manager’s accommodation.

Chloe Turner, committee chair, said after the meeting: “This is an important step forward for the restoration of the Stroudwater Navigation (canal) and aligns with our council plan objective to submit a planning application for the Missing Mile"

Since Stroud District Council and Cotswold Canals Trust took on leadership of the project in 2008, 7.5 km of canal between Stroud and Stonehouse has been restored, transforming the route into a peaceful walking and cycling alternative to the busy adjacent A419, and creating a vibrant new water habitat for nature.

The route diverts away from the historic route of the canal, as this original route has been built on at the motorway junction, highway depot and A38 roundabout and link road.

The new canal channel diverts south from Westfield bridge before going under the motorway, sharing the existing River Frome underpass with a dividing wall which will act as a flood barrier.

Robin Layfield, committee vice-chair, said: “The canal restoration brings huge benefits to the district in terms of inward investment, biodiversity, health and wellbeing, and tourism.

“This major milestone means more people can enjoy this unique corridor of outdoor space.”

Key partners in the project include Gloucestershire County Council, Canal & River Trust and Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, plus charities including Cotswold Boatmobility.

Work on the Missing Mile has been scheduled into the engineering programme and will commence later this year in line with the planning conditions.

A significant proportion of the works on both the Missing Mile and other sections of the canal will be volunteer-led projects.

Cotswold Canals Trust is currently scaling up its restoration volunteer teams with the skills, equipment and resources required to deliver this project.

Anyone interested in volunteering on this historic project to restore the Stroudwater Navigation can find out more at d