For a brief report & photos of the Oct 7th protest rally
Below is Tim Coghlan's paper on the case against the creation of yet another large marina on the hugely overcrowded Braunston Pound.
Do please find the time to read it and join the campaign against its construction.
If you find you agree and would like to object to the application for planning consent then please do write a letter to Daventry District Council or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Further down this page you will find their address and a specimen letter you are free to copy and use if you don't fancy composing your own.
To see campaign press cuttings click here
But first, four facts:-
1. The developer says there is unsatisfied demand for marina berths in the area. TRUTH: - There is a huge oversupply. Some 350 berths in the area are vacant, 250 are now under construction at Cropredy & consent has been given for 123 more at Hillmorton. Another 550 at Onley will mean 1,373 empty berths looking for boats! Every marina now has empty berths. The nearby Barby Moorings are in difficulties having managed only minimal occupation and remain substantially incomplete. A new, mammoth marina (possibly the second largest in the country) is clearly neither needed nor wanted.
2. The developer promises a huge marina with all associated amenities including a restaurant & footpaths open to local inhabitants. TRUTH:- In view of 1) above, the marina as currently proposed is not financially viable and it is difficult to understand why it is being pursued or where the full development finance might come from. Because of the likely poor occupancy there is a danger it could well be left incomplete without the support buildings and other amenities, such as Barby Moorings or like Kings Orchard Marina, Streethay where development has been abandoned leaving a huge hole in the ground with some rainwater sloshing around in the bottom: -
The abandoned Kings Orchard marina
3. The developers & their supporters deny there is existing serious congestion. TRUTH:- BW's published 2011 figures show Calcutt, Braunston & Hillmorton to be the 3 busiest locks in the whole country & Napton is not far behind in 11th place. This means that Braunston Pound is by far the most heavily trafficked with a staggering 68,700 estimated boat movements each year passing either way through the 4 locking locations (a boat passing along the pound every 2.5 minutes in the summer season)!! No wonder we suffer long, frequently severe, delays at the locks. An extra 550 boats active in the pound throughout the year can only exacerbate an already serious congestion problem and lead to earlier and/or increased locking restrictions when water is in short supply. [If you would like to see the full calculations and some more surprising figures on the boat movements in Braunston Pound then CLICK HERE].
4. The developers and their supporters describe the countryside where the marina is proposed as "neglected and derelict". TRUTH:- Just look at this photo:-
This shows the site from Barby Hill with the stunning view beyond of the 'Midland Plain'. It is beautiful, peaceful countryside, a haven for wildlife, host to the extremely rare Holly Blue butterfly and the old Grand Central railway line is of archeological significance. Much of this view would disappear under water & hard landscaping. As the marina is not needed or wanted, the environmental damage it would cause will be 'official' vandalism of the highest order.
THE CASE AGAINST THE PROPOSED 550 BERTH MARINA
AT ONLEY BARBY POOLS MARINA
By Tim Coghlan, Managing Director of Braunston Marina
After what appears to be eight years in the planning thereof, and with the full support of Canals & Rivers Trust Marinas Unit, the developer of the proposed 550 berth marina at Onley has now finally submitted his planning application.
This we and many others, including marina operators, boaters and hire boat operators, consider will be a disaster for the already over-congested Braunston Pound. This year’s May Bank Holiday weekend, despite the bad weather, was more reminiscent of the M25 than a quiet country canal.
The fact is that the Braunston Canal Pound has already been identified by the C&RT as one of the three most congested on the canal network. And per C&RT’s own figures, Calcutt, Braunston & HIllmorton Locks are the busiest lock flights on the system. This is before the new 120 berth Barby Moorings Marina is even completed – it appears little more than half built and a third full. In addition Blue Haven Marina has recently renewed its permission to develop a 125 berth extension of its marina at Hillmorton.
If Onley Marina were built, there would be five marinas in the six miles between Braunston Bottom Lock and Hillmorton Locks, and 1,400 marina berths in the 12 miles of Braunston Pound. This is before taking into account the 500 plus combined berths at Calcutt and Ventnor Farm immediately below the Pound, and the online moorings in the Braunston Pound. It is a nightmare scenario, which astonishingly C&RT has not opposed because it considers that there is no lack of water. And all this on a late 18th century canal network using ancient structures which were never intended to be used by powered boats.
We already have an over supply of marina berths in the area - with some 250 of them empty, including here at Braunston Marina, which in years gone by was always full to the gunnels. And in addition to the 125 berth marina at Hillmorton, planning permission also already exists for new 250 berth marinas at nearby Cropredy and North Kilworth respectively. Nationally we estimate that there are over 2,500 empty canal marina berths – a figure not challenged by the C&RT’s Marinas Unit.
So there is no case for need, especially as narrowboat production nationally is now down to a quarter of where it was five years ago, at well below 300 boats a year. By way of local example, in 2005 there were three narrowboat builders at Braunston Marina - now there are none. Boat building has also ceased at Stowe Hill Marine at Weedon, Blue Haven Marine at Hillmorton, and G & J Reeves at Napton. And there is little elsewhere, where once we were the heartland of narrowboat production.
The Braunston Pound has suffered from the two dry summers we recently experienced. Despite the good spring rain, lock restrictions remained in place until mid June, which added to the congestion in the times that the locks are open – especially at weekends. On the Saturday afternoon of the May Bank Holiday, boats were queuing back into Braunston Tunnel, waiting to get through Braunston Top Lock. What is now self-evident is that in dry summers, the Braunston canal water supply is inadequate to cope with the existing boat population. A further 550 boats would have a very detrimental effect on the water supply for the existing boaters.
Then there is the environmental issue of a massive development in gentle open countryside at the foot of Barby Hill, which would destroy some of the finest local views from its summit 150 feet above – where on a clear day you can see the distant Malvern Hills some forty miles away. To complete the destruction, it would only need a wind turbine on that summit, to supply the electricity for this so-called eco-friendly marina!
The Rugby-born poet Rupert Brooke is believed to have written his great poem, inspired by that view, which includes the verse:
White mist about the black hedgerows,
The slumbering Midland plain,
The silence where the clover grows,
And the dead leaves in the lane.
This importantly was included in the very opening pages of Tom Rolt’s "Narrow Boat" – the ‘bible of the canals’.
The rural moorings at the foot of Barby Hill are one of the few areas local boaters can visit as a desirable destination, due to the proliferation of online moorings at Braunston, Hillmorton and Napton. It is also probably the nicest and most unspoilt spot on the whole of the North Oxford and Coventry Canals. We are already losing boaters moving to the quieter waters further north. This haemorrhaging would only be hastened if this monster-marina were built. All would be the loser. It must be stopped.
What to me is astonishing is that BW in its new form of the Canal & River Trust, seems - despite its new charitable role as guardian of our canal heritage - so utterly blind to the damage that the Onley Marina will do to congestion and the canal environment, and with it their reputation as the trusted stewards of the canals. Time and time again I hear from canal-users that they just want the money, regardless.
Please help our campaign by either completing and posting soonest the enclosed ‘form’ to the Daventry Council Planning Department. Or better still, writing to them in your own words on home letter paper using the address and reference on the form, or emailing them at email@example.com
The strongest grounds for objection are the added congestion and pressure on water shortages that the development will make. And secondly the development is land classified as open countryside, where there is no need for further marina development.
Thank you for reading this.
Tim Coghlan, Braunston Marina Ltd
SPECIMEN LETTER OF OBJECTION
The Planning Officer,
Daventry District Council,
PROPOSED 550 BERTH CANAL MARINA AT ONLEY
I write as a canal boater and / or canal enthusiast to record my objection on the following grounds:
1) The Braunston Canal Pound has recently been identified by British Waterways as already being one of the three most congested on the canal network. This is before the impact of the proposed new 125 berth marina at Hillmorton, for which renewed planning permission has recently been given. The impact of another 550 boats at Onley would add massively to the existing congestion, and have a major detrimental effect on the Daventry Canal Conservation Area.
2) The Braunston Pound is already suffering from the two dry summers we have experienced. Despite the recent rain, lock restrictions remained in place until mid June, which added to the congestion in the times that the locks are open – especially at weekends. What is now self-evident is that in dry summers, the Braunston canal water supply is inadequate to cope with the existing boat population. A further 550 boats would have a very detrimental effect on the water supply for the existing boaters.
3) There is already an over-supply of marina berths in the area – which are estimated at some 250 vacancies. And nationally there are some 2,500 empty berths. In addition, permission exists for the aforementioned 125 berth marina at Hillmorton, together with 250 berth marinas at nearby Cropredy and North Kilworth respectively. The production of new narrowboats to fill these new marinas has fallen dramatically. There is no case for a further 550 boats.
4) There is the environmental issue of this massive development in gentle open countryside at the foot of Barby Hill, which would destroy one of the finest local views from its summit 150 feet above – where on a clear day you can see the distant Malvern Hills some forty miles away. The rural moorings at the foot of Barby Hill are one of the few areas local boaters can visit as a desirable destination, due to the proliferation of online moorings at Braunston, Hillmorton and Napton. It is also probably the nicest and most unspoilt rural spot on the whole of the North Oxford and Coventry Canals, which would be lost if this massive development were given approval.
Signed …………………………………………..…(Name) ………………………………………………