Funding boost for plan to consider long-term future for the Neath and Tennant Canals

Neath Port Talbot Council has secured £113,850 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Heritage Places initiative to support the development of the Canal Connections/ Cysylltiadau Camlesi project.

The council will use the funding to develop a comprehensive options appraisal study examining future uses for the Neath and Tennant Canals, recognising their significance and unique heritage and what they can offer to the people and communities lining their routes. The landowners of these two important waterways play an integral role moving forward in determining a long term sustainable future use for our canals.

The study will be part of the phased long term Canal Connections/ Cysylltiadau Camlesi project working to secure additional funding to regenerate the canal system in a sustainable way into an accessible community asset for active travel and recreation, establishing it as a heritage destination which connects local communities.

The two canals are heritage rich, containing three scheduled monuments, a large number of Grade II Listed Buildings, 27 Buildings/structures of local Interest and a Conservation Area (Neath Canal Depot).

The canals enable residents to reconnect with nature and the communities along its length, linking the town centre to valley areas. There is a recognition of the importance of these spaces on people’s health and wellbeing as these waterways can be improved to provide clean, green spaces for local leisure activity where rich biodiversity thrives.

The Neath Canal was opened in 1795 and is 13 miles long, running from Briton Ferry through Neath Town Centre up the Vale of Neath to Glynneath. The Tennant Canal was opened in 1824 and is eight miles long, running from Jersey Marine through Skewen and joining the Neath Canal at Aberdulais.

Andrew White, The National Lottery Heritage Fund Director for Wales, said; “Historically the canal network was at the heart of how communities and industry in Neath Port Talbot grew and prospered Canal Connections will keep them at the heart of community life with a new role and creating new opportunities.

“The canals will be at the centre of delivering heritage-led regeneration, they can support greenspaces for leisure and exercise, support nature recovery and biodiversity and link people and communities creating new connections based on this historic transport network.

“Canal Connections is part of our ten-year Heritage Places commitment to Neath Port Talbot announced last year. Investing in people and their history, ensuring they are an active part in guiding regeneration and celebrating the heritage of the place they live builds a stronger and more resilient community. We see the benefits of long-term commitment to making sustainable change happen.”

Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Nature, Tourism and Wellbeing, Cllr Cen Phillips, said: “Our canals are a fantastic resource both in terms of heritage and wellbeing and we are grateful for the financial backing coming from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for this important project.”

The council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Economic Growth, Cllr Jeremy Hurley, added : “Greater use of these canals can bring really positive impacts for the health and lives of all those who live in and around them and they can also attract people into the county borough improving the health of our economy.”

Neath Port Talbot Council has developed some key strategies, including a new Culture Strategy, Destination Management Plan and a Heritage Strategy, all of which provide context and drive forward key heritage projects.