Work due to start on £2.7 million walking and cycling boost for two West Yorkshire canal towpaths

Improvement works will take place on a 3.5km section of the towpath between Apperley Bridge and Shipley on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, and a 4.3km section of the towpath between Milnsbridge and Slaithwaite on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal.

Work is due to start next month (March) on a £2.7 million package to boost walking and cycling access on two West Yorkshire canal towpaths.

The towpath upgrades on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and the Huddersfield Narrow Canal are being delivered through the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s CityConnect programme, which is aimed at enabling more people to walk and cycle, in partnership with Bradford and Kirklees councils, and the Canal & River Trust.

Improvement works will take place on a 3.5km section of the towpath between Apperley Bridge and Shipley on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, and a 4.3km section of the towpath between Milnsbridge and Slaithwaite on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal.

Both schemes build upon previous upgrades to neighbouring sections of the canal towpaths in recent years. 

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said:

“Traffic-free routes, such as canal towpaths, not only connect us with the places we need to go, they are often a focal point for the community, providing welcoming places for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy walking and cycling.”

“These upgrades will plug important missing links in our region’s network, helping people get around more easily and contributing to our efforts to tackle the climate emergency on our way to becoming a net zero carbon economy by 2038.” 

Cllr Manisha Kaushik, the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee Lead Member for Active Travel, said:

“We are pleased to be working in partnership on these schemes, which will provide communities along both the Aire and Colne valleys with traffic-free, flat and attractive walking and cycling routes.

“From connecting us to the places we need to go, to tackling congestion and boosting our physical and mental health, we know getting more people cycling and walking has a significant role to play in making West Yorkshire an even better place to live, work and play.”

Cllr Alex Ross-Shaw, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Planning and Transport at Bradford Council, said:

“This is great news and will enhance the rest of the work we are doing to make local transport cleaner, greener and healthier.

“Sections of the Leeds Liverpool Canal which run through our district offer very pleasant, quiet and safe environments for walking, jogging and cycling. They are also great places to enjoy wildlife.

“Improving the surface quality will make the Leeds Liverpool towpath more accessible and encourage even more people to make use of this great community asset.”

Cllr Peter McBride, Cabinet Member for Regeneration at Kirklees Council, said:

“The works on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal Towpath will make it significantly easier for people to walk or cycle in Kirklees. The upgrade of the canal towpath will turn the routes into safe spaces with good quality surfaces fit for walking and cycling, encouraging active travel. There are substantial benefits for people, and neighbourhoods overall when travel is done by active transportation rather than by car.

“These improvements are part of the larger CityConnect programme, helping to bring us one step closer to a walking and cycling network that is safer and more enjoyable for everyone. Repairing the path will make it usable all year round and will enable people to pass and interact with each other better. It will let people wheel pushchairs and wheelchairs on it comfortably, making it accessible for all”.

Seán McGinley, Regional Director for Canal & River Trust, said:

“Research shows that spending time by the waterways can help us feel happier and healthier so these improvements will make a very real difference to the lives of local people. These upgrades will allow more people to use the towpaths, whatever the weather.

“Whether it’s a green, traffic-free route to work, a place to keep fit or just a quiet place to de-stress, the canal is on the doorstep and free for everyone to enjoy.”

These schemes are being funded through the Leeds City Region Growth Deal - a £1 billion package of Government investment to accelerate growth and create jobs.

The Bradford scheme will also receive money from the Getting Building Fund, through which the Combined Authority secured £52.6 million to accelerate 15 “shovel-ready” projects in response to the pandemic, helping create nearly 2,300 new jobs and safeguard a further 500.

Kirklees Council has made an additional budget contribution to the Huddersfield Narrow Canal scheme, allowing design improvements to be incorporated at two locations. These improvements will ensure the towpath is accessible and takes into account consultation feedback. This is the result of substantial work with Experience Community CIC and the Canal & River Trust.

Construction work is expected to continue until late summer and there will be a series of rolling closures during this time.

Find out more information about the Leeds and Liverpool Canal towpath closures.

Find out more information about the Huddersfield Narrow Canal closures.