Exciting new plans to re-connect Chichester Ship Canal with the sea – which would see boats from all over the world come into the city – have been revealed.
The Chichester Ship Canal Trust exclusively told of its plans to the Observer, which also include transforming the canal basin area by building an educational hub with offices and opening a brand-new shop.
The trust wants to build a moving bridge at Donnington and create a lock near the Witterings, which will allow boats to enter the canal.
No-one is more excited about the plans to open up the canal than chairwoman Linda Wilkinson. She said: “It’s something different and seems quite sensible. The bridge would only take up the space that is already there. I have been with the trust for 30-odd years and it’s getting quite exciting now.
“It’s all happening at the same time. We’ll have the new shop and the other building and bridge. It would be nice to make a start with the bridge this year – even if it’s on December 31. I think it will be a brilliant.”
She added: “It would bring new life into Chichester.”
Speaking of the transformation of the basin, he added: “I think it will look extremely nice and what it’s doing hopefully is lifting the whole of that part of Chichester. It has been an orphan for a long time. It should make that attractive.
“We should have boats coming in from all around the UK and abroad.”
Mrs Wilkinson admitted the plans for opening up the canal were ‘up in the air’ and there would be some obstacles in the way to make the trust’s dream vision become a reality.
She also said the trust would need to consult with residents on the Manhood Peninsula about its plans for the moving bridge in Donnington and the creation of a lock underneath the road in the Witterings.
The Chichester Ship Canal Trust recently bought the old stable block next to its current temporary mobile home shop at the basin. It hopes to change the building into offices, a waiting room for those waiting for canal trips, facilities for boat-users, a kitchen, toilets and facilities to create a space to educate people about the canal and its history.
Cllr Cherry said: “We took over the building about three months ago. It’s in pretty bad condition, we are getting architects in to get a clear idea to put into working order.
“It’s a great thing if people are waiting outside on a lovely day, but it’s not so great on a rainy day. We need additional facilities.”
The canal trust will be getting a new shop at the basin, to replace the temporary shop that has been there for more than a decade.
As part of Linden Homes’ development for around 80 properties at Stockbridge Road, money was dedicated to building the trust’s new shop, and it is hoped it will open within the next few months.