Work progresses on Slaithwaite towpath as part of £2.7 million upgrade on two West Yorkshire canals

Works are progressing on a £2.7 million package to boost walking and cycling access on two West Yorkshire canal towpaths, with the first section of improved route in Slaithwaite nearing completion.

The works, which started earlier this spring, include improvements to a 4.3km section of the towpath between Milnsbridge and Slaithwaite on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and a 3.5km section of the towpath between Apperley Bridge and Shipley on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.

Both schemes feature the resurfacing and widening of towpaths and will provide communities along the Aire and Colne Valleys with traffic-free, flat and attractive alternative routes, following consultation with the public in November 2020.

The first section to be delivered in the centre of Slaithwaite is now predominantly complete. The routes are being resurfaced with a tar, spray and chip finish which will provide a durable, all-weather surface to enable more people to walk, wheel, scoot and cycle, more often, as well as complementing the natural environments surrounding the canal towpaths. People may notice loose chipping at first, and as part of the construction process, this new section will be swept in the coming weeks.

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

“I’m delighted to see the progress being made on these schemes which will provide communities along both the Aire and Colne Valleys with traffic-free, flat and attractive walking and cycling routes.

“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.”

Sean McGinley, regional director for the Canal & River Trust, said:

“It’s fantastic to see these two towpath improvement schemes under construction, and it’s great that the section in Slaithwaite is now all but complete. As the charity that looks after 2,000 miles of canals and rivers in England and Wales, the Canal & River Trust wants more people to be able to enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits of spending time by water.

“So, we’re really grateful to our partners West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Kirklees and Bradford Councils in helping us to make these improvements, and we look forward to seeing more people out on the towpath enjoying these remarkable blue green spaces.”

Both schemes 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 the Canal & River Trust, and Bradford and Kirklees councils.

They build on previous upgrades to neighbouring sections of the canal towpaths completed in 2018.

Construction work is expected to continue until late summer with a series of towpath closures in place during the works:

For more information on how the new routes being delivered by the Combined Authority's CityConnect programme, visit https://www.cyclecityconnect.co.uk/our-routes

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

Cllr Manisha Kaushik West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee Lead Member for Active Travel