Welcome to the Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Park

The Waterway Park is an ambitious project to link the Grand Union Canal in Milton Keynes with the River Great Ouse in Bedford. Just 16 miles (26Km) in length it will have a huge regional impact creating a waterway park and establishing a green corridor right at the heart of future developments on the Oxford to Cambridge Arc, a legacy for future generations.

The Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust is a charity and company limited by guarantee. It was established in 1995 to “promote and assist in the provision and maintenance of a new waterway and associated facilities and structures connecting the Grand Union Canal at Milton Keynes to the River Great Ouse at Bedford, for the benefit of local inhabitants and visitors”.

 

Can the Waterway Park help combat future drought?

The Bedford and Milton Keynes Waterway Trust has been an advocate for a new waterway park linking Bedford and Milton Keynes since 1996. In recent years we have increasing argued that it should be given serious consideration as a piece of green/blue infrastructure that can achieve many positive outcomes:

      ●   an economic boost for the region through the establishment of a new navigation and recreation location

     ●    increased biodiversity through the creation of new wetlands and parkland

     ●    excellent cycle and walking routes through Marston Vale

     ●    improved water management opportunities

It is this last benefit which needs to come to the forefront right now. The country is facing serious drought and all the predictions are that we are facing more extended hot and arid periods. Our countryside, our businesses and we all need water. A new link between the River Great Ouse in Bedford and the Grand Union Canal and rivers in Milton Keynes could be a crucial resource. The capacity of the link to help remove water during flood and redistribute during drought is at last being looked at more seriously.

Help secure benefits for the Waterway Park by responding to Bedford Local Plan 2040 consultation

Bedford Borough Council is currently consulting on its Local Plan 2040 which sets out policies and proposals for the future of the Bedford area. The Waterway Park has been included in the Local Plan for some time but in this latest version there is much stronger emphasis on the Waterway as one of Bedford’s key green/blue infrastructure projects. We want to support and welcome this move. See page 53 where a strategic plan for a large area south of Bedford is proposed and also page 58 where reference is made to a new housing site at Gibraltar Corner which can help deliver the Waterway. Policies HO12 and HOU13 are important in supporting the Waterway. See Policy HOU13 on pages 53 to 58 of the Plan

The Local Plan can be viewed HERE

We want to ensure these policies remain in the plan. The more local support the policies receive during consultation the stronger the case for ensuring the policies are included in the final version of the Local Plan 2040. This is what the Trust has said in response:

The B&MK Waterway Trust welcomes the emphasis that the draft Plan places on the Waterway Park as a strategic green/blue infrastructure project. In particular the Trust supports The South of Bedford Strategic policy area and the ambition to support the delivery of the Bedford and Milton Keynes Waterway Park as part of the green/blue infrastructure for the area. The Trust supports policy HOU12 especially the focus on enhancing natural capital by continuing to deliver the Forest of Marston Vale and enhancing the multifunctional green infrastructure network to provide the basis for distinctive place making.

The Trust strongly supports the proposal for a strategic place making framework to guide development across the South of Bedford policy area which will be adopted as a Supplementary Planning Document. The Trust would wish to be involved as a stakeholder in the preparation of the SPD.  With regard to Figure 5, the concept plan for the South of Bedford area, the Trust considers that it flags up the opportunity to more closely realign NCN 51 along the route of the Waterway.

With regard to specific locations the Trust supports Policy HOU13 Land at Gibraltar Corner, and its reference to provision of land to facilitate the Bedford to Milton Keynes Waterway Park to the east of the housing allocation.

The Trust also strongly supports the inclusion of the route of the Waterway Park in the Key Diagram.

We are looking for your comment on the Local Plan and your support of the inclusion of the route of the Waterway Park in the Local Plan.

Your comments can be emailed to planningforthefuture@bedford.gov.uk

The consultation ends 29th July.

What’s happening in the BMK Waterway Park

We are always busy promoting the Waterway Park, raising funds and awareness through our community boats and working on projects along the route. View all news here

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Your donations are making the waterway park a reality

Extending the navigation on the Gt Ouse, marking & securing the route as well as technical and economic studies, these are just some of the projects we are working on.

Make a Donation

Would you like to volunteer with Trust?

All of our work from running the community boats to planning and promoting the route is carried out by volunteers. We are always looking for enthusiastic people to get involved.

Find out more