Loughborough Town Deal support makes a splash with £885,000 grant for River Soar towpath improvements

Published: Fri 13th May, 2022

  • From left, Cllr Jonathan Morgan, Loughorough Town Deal co-chair and Leader of Charnwood Borough Council, Phil Mulligan, Regional Director for the Canal & River Trust,  Jane Hunt, MP for Loughborough and Town Deal Board Member, and Alan Leather, from the Canal & River Trust
    From left, Cllr Jonathan Morgan, Loughorough Town Deal co-chair and Leader of Charnwood Borough Council, Phil Mulligan, Regional Director for the Canal & River Trust, Jane Hunt, MP for Loughborough and Town Deal Board Member, and Alan Leather, from the Canal & River Trust

Plans to make the River Soar towpath more attractive for walkers and cyclists is being backed by Loughborough Town Deal.

The Town Deal Board has confirmed an £885,000 grant to support the project by the Canal & River Trust which wants to upgrade two kilometres of towpath alongside the River Soar in Loughborough.

It is one of 11 projects Loughborough Town Deal is supporting after securing £16.9 million of Government funding. In total, the projects are worth over £40 million of investment for the town.

The Town Deal Board is co-chaired by Cllr Jonathan Morgan, Leader of Charnwood Borough Council, and Dr Nik Kotecha OBE, Chairman of Loughborough-based Morningside Pharmaceuticals.

Cllr Morgan said: "I am delighted the Loughborough Town Deal Board can confirm this funding for the Canal & River Trust.

“The plans to improve the towpath running alongside the River Soar will make a huge difference for walkers and cyclists in this area. It will also create a much more sustainable travel corridor in the town.”

Dr Kotecha said: “The river in Loughborough provides us with a very real link to our industrial heritage but also to our ambitions to make the town a more pleasant and greener place to travel around.

“Making the river more attractive will give another strong reason for people to come to Loughborough, spend some time here and therefore support the visitor economy.”

Jane Hunt, MP for Loughborough and a member of the Town Deal Board, said: "These plans are hugely welcome and I am really pleased to see Town Deal money being used to fund improvements to the towpath next to the River Soar. It will provide an attractive place to walk or cycle right next to our historic waterways. I am looking forward to seeing it once the works have been completed."

The Canal & River Trust is a charity which looks after 2,000 miles of waterways across the country.

Phil Mulligan, Regional Director for the Canal & River Trust, said: “Research shows that spending time by water can help us to feel happier and healthier, and these improvements will make it easier for people in Loughborough to enjoy some time by the river as part of their daily lives.

“We’re very grateful that the Town Deal Board recognise the importance of the river to the town and look forward to making it even better for local communities and visitors alike.”

The Trust’s plans for the River Soar will focus on the towpath between Moor Lane Bridge and Belton Road. Works are due to take place towards the end of the year.

The trust plans to upgrade the surfacing to provide a consistent high standard finish, remove barriers, improve signage, wayfinding and access points as well as increasing the number of moorings to attract a greater number of visiting boats that will be able to access town centre facilities and attractions.

Loughborough Town Deal is backing projects to boost skills, improve the town centre, reduce flooding, regenerate the riverside, develop a creative hub and support two key attractions – Great Central Railway and the bell foundry.

So far, Loughborough Town Deal has invested £750,000 to create a Careers and Enterprise Hub in Loughborough town centre; £1.7 million to support the Bedford Square Gateway Project which is regenerating part of the town centre; £835,000 to help save Taylor’s Bell Foundry, the last major bell foundry in the UK; and £2.6 million to create a Digital Skills Hub at Loughborough College

Combined with the River Soar towpath project, that brings Town Deal investment in Loughborough so far to over £6.7 million.

For more information about the Town Deal, visit www.loughboroughtowndeal.co.uk