£429,000 investment for Monkland Canal towpath upgrade

The Monkland Canal towpath will soon be ready to welcome even more boots and bikes this spring thanks to a £429,000 investment from Sustrans to improve the popular walking, wheeling and cycling link along National Cycle Network Route 75.

The grant from Sustrans National Cycle Network Development fund, which is backed by investment from Transport Scotland and will be delivered by Scottish Canals, continues the ongoing renaissance of the Monkland Canal which got underway in 2008 when Scottish Canals, in partnership with North Lanarkshire Council and the local community, led an award winning place making project transforming the entrances to the remaining canal lengths and improved the surrounding green space to encourage use by commuters, walkers, cyclists, joggers and wheelers.

Minister for Active Travel Patrick Harvie said: “I’m pleased that Scottish Government funding is improving the quality of the Monkland Canal towpath and Route 75 of the National Cycle Network.

“To improve health, wellbeing and to respond to the climate emergency, we need to make walking, wheeling and cycling easier for everyday shorter journeys. These improvements are a great local example of how our record funding for active travel is unlocking real change. By increasing our investment in active travel to over £320 million by the end of 2024/25, we will see many more improvements like this in the years to come.”

“Community support for these types of improvements is vital – and I’m pleased that the Friends of Monkland Canal, who have been calling for this work for some time, will continue to promote and protect the historic assets that the Monkland Canal offers.”

Since the completion of the initial works in 2012 the area has seen increased activity, especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and community ownership has grown with the formation of the Friends of Monkland Canal volunteer group.

Speaking on the announcement local MSP Fulton MacGregor said: “I’ve been lucky enough to see the Friends of Monkland Canal group go from strength to strength and I believe this investment can be celebrated as another one of their successes. The canal is looking beautiful and is a real local beauty spot so to see more investment is really heartening and something to get really excited about.

“Both Scottish Canals and Sustrans have been great with helping the group out and as a regular user of the canal towpath I personally can’t wait to see these works complete. It will make the canal so much more accessible for everyone to enjoy. Of course we don’t want to stop here – the continued regeneration of the area could have profound and lasting health and wellbeing benefits for Coatbridge and all surrounding areas”

Today’s announcement celebrates the successes of community collaboration with a £429,000 investment to fund to upgrade the towpath surface, provide a new drainage system and install two new towpath counters, creating a safer and more accessible walking, wheeling and cycling route for everyone from Coatbridge and beyond to enjoy.

Karen McGregor, Portfolio Director at Sustrans Scotland, said: “Sustrans is delighted to be working with Transport Scotland, the community and Scottish Canals to improve this section of National Cycle Network Route 75.

“The National Cycle Network is the backbone of Scotland’s active travel infrastructure, and the enthusiasm for these improvements shows the importance of safe and accessible walking, wheeling and cycling links to our communities.

“We need to make it easier to leave the car behind and make healthier and sustainable choices for more everyday journeys. This project is a great example of how we can come together to improve access to active travel and greenspace for everyone – regardless of age or ability.”

Works to upgrade the two kilometres of towpath linking Blair Road to a popular viewing point at Drumpellier lawns, are now underway and will last approximately eight weeks. During this time a diversion will be in place along with assisted passage for those needing additional support.

"The Monkland Canal and the surrounding area offers important blue and green space for the local community to benefit from and this project goes some way to ensuring as many people as possible can safely enjoy it for years to come.

"The new surface has been installed throughout our network and we’re constantly seeing increased usage as a result which is fantastic. We hope that this consistent all weather surface will encourage even more people to engage in active and healthy lifestyles, whether that’s local people using the path as an alternative to driving short journeys or more cyclists taking on the Route 75 challenge!”

Richard Millar, Chief Operating Officer at Scottish Canals

Friends of Monkland Canal the local community voluntary group who play an active role in caring for the space and were instrumental to securing the funding. Speaking about the news Alan McCormack from Friends of Monkland Canals said: “This is fantastic news and it will make a massive difference to the area. I would like to thank all our members and the local community for their continued support in raising the profile of our historic canal and paths and lobbying for the improvements that are needed.

Friends of Monklands Canal Co-lead, Stephen McCargo also echoed these sentiments: “This is great news; It’s been a long time coming now and it feels like our hard work is finally paying off.

“We now hope to use this success as a springboard to deliver more improvement projects for the area including the restoration of the canal pier and Home Farm bridge.”

 

Notes to Editors

For further information, please contact:

Nicola Sturgeon at Scottish Canals on 07767383557 or email Nicola.Sturgeon@scottishcanals.co.uk

Lisa Ross at Scottish Canals on 07976555241 or email Lisa.Ross@scottishcanals.co.uk

 

Notes to the editor:

About Scottish Canals

  • Scottish Canals is responsible to the Scottish Government for the management and development of five of Scotland’s canals as well as the surrounding estate and The Falkirk Wheel.
  • Built two hundred years ago to fire the Industrial Revolution, today the canals contribute to the Scottish Government agenda of developing a Greener; Healthier; Smarter; Safer and Stronger; and Wealthier and Fairer Scotland by acting as a catalyst for sustainable economic development, regeneration and tourism; contributing to education, biodiversity, heritage and promoting active living and healthier lifestyles
  • Today Scottish Canals is utilising these 18th century assets along with innovative technology to tackle modern problems. Through working with partners to create pioneering systems, Scottish Canals is helping to combat flooding and driving positive transformation in some of Scotland’s most disadvantaged areas
  • The Forth & Clyde, Union, Monkland, Caledonian and Crinan canals are recognised as Scheduled Monuments and attract 20 million visits per year. See www.scottishcanals.co.uk  for more information

 

About Sustrans

  • Sustrans is the charity making it easier for people to walk, wheel and cycle. We connect people and places, create liveable neighbourhoods, transform the school run and deliver a happier, healthier commute. Join us on our journey. www.sustrans.org.uk
  • The National Cycle Network (NCN) in Scotland is a network of walking, wheeling and cycling routes. There are approximately 1,643 miles (2,644 km) of National Cycle Network routes in Scotland, including 702 miles of traffic-free routes which use a mix of railway path, canal towpath, forest road, shared-use path, segregated cycle lanes and re-determined rural footways. Sustrans receives yearly funding from Transport Scotland for the development and improvement of NCN routes in Scotland.

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