'Where the past meets the future'
The project seeks to raise the awareness of the canal through the town of Coatbridge. At the heart of the concept for the linear park is to provide a high quality physical environment which is currently degraded, unsafe and undesirable.
Our objective is to set down a vision for the creation of a linear park connecting over twenty communities within North Lanarkshire and providing a significant national commuting and leisure link between Glasgow and Edinburgh. It will be a key part of central Scotland’s green/blue infrastructure.
The Monkland canal corridor exists as open water, built urban form or as unused overgrown open space through a forgotten and redundant landscape, stretching from Euro Central in the east to Easterhouse in the West. The Monkland Canal is the fifth canal in Scotland and runs through a number of North Lanarkshire communities including the town of Coatbridge.
The canal corridor has recently been granted Schedule Ancient Monument status. We are proposing this exciting project because we believe that the Canal Line has the potential to improve the lives of communities within the region, raise the profile of the canal, its potential for investment, enterprise and water based activities and to highlight the heritage context. There is a real desire to provide Coatbridge and its environs a strategic vision which starts to set out development principles for the next few decades to help stitch together disparate parts of the townscape and connect to the wonderful asset of the adjacent rural environment.
The canal line concept has been inspired by linear parks throughout Europe and North America, the High Line in New York for example. The linear route will promote and encourage sustainable economic growth, increasing levels of personal and business mobility through commuting use on the towpath and cycle routes but also investing in the land within the corridor. The improved access and attractiveness of the Canal Line will increase leisure activities from adjacent communities encouraging active travel. The Canal Line will complete the link between east and west with a major infrastructure investment of a link over the railway at Bargeddie to connect the route of the canal to Easterhouse. Greater connectivity therefore encourages walking and cycling to school (new paths off the canal route have already been installed to new local schools), shops and places of employment as an alternative to the car or public transport. We intend to raise the profile of this link, creating a desirable place upon which developments no longer turn their back and provide a backdrop for safe and sustainable communities to improve people’s lives, promote economic success, and allow nature to flourish.
The three themes of Ecology, Heritage and Leisure are defined geographically relating directly to the context and existing activities. Locally the presence of the route, its historical significance and its future potential opportunities will be highlighted through a series of structures and interventions leading along the canal.
The concept proposals review the significance of the canal line from a regional and local scale. Regionally the linear nature of the route encounters several communities where improved access to walking and cycle routes to the countryside would be of huge health benefit.
The route can be used as a commuting network from the adjoining settlements to Coatbridge, west to Glasgow or east to Euro Central and Bathgate beyond. At a local level, each area of the route will be analysed to assess the access and infrastructure potential.
A fire festival has been muted as a potential method of ensuring the Canal Line starts to build on the essential links between the communities and forms the base level of an implementation strategy.
The concept is promoted on behalf of The Monkland Canal Steering Group, established in 2008, which includes Scottish Canals, Scottish Waterways Trust, North Lanarkshire Council (development, planning and design departments), Summerlee Heritage Museum, Calderbank Community Group, Sustrans, Coatbridge Community Forum, HarrisonStevens, New Calderbank Regeneration Group and LX Arts (a community arts based group).
The strategy aims to provide a baseline analysis of the linear route including infrastructure, land ownership, the LDP and land uses, define a cohesive strategy for the creation of the linear park and identify opportunities throughout the linear park for interventions. It establishes a series of design principles for the areas of the park set out as development briefs and ensure that the proposals set out in the report are secured in the planning system, identifying opportunities for delivery.
The Steering Group has been responsible for the successful implementation of physical works through two previous phases. These include the Blair Bridge Gateway with the Andy Scott sculpture and the restoration of the Vulcan Ship as a class room and cinema, positioned at Summerlee Heritage Museum.
The second phase of works completed in 2013 sets out an interpretive trail through Coatbridge highlighting the presence of the hidden canal. HarrisonStevens were project managers for these earlier phases of the project.
Key features include the use of materials which reference the steel/iron industry in Coatbridge, a clear way finding strategy, renovation of significant canal features, and the interpretation of canal themes, water, industry, commerce, education and ecology.
There are three elements of environmental improvements which together help to define the route through the town:
- A 3km of trail through the town, introduces lighting, signing, street furniture and meadow grass planting.
- The renovation and relocation of the Vulcan ship into the canal at Summerlee Heritage Museum.
- The creation of a new pedestrian route into Summerlee Heritage Museum, along the old route of the Canal.