Q & A

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: How long will the Waterway be?

A1: 26 km from the junction with the Grand Union canal in MK to the junction with the Great Ouse at Kempston. The 6 km of the Great Ouse from Kempston into Bedford will be brought up to full boating standard.

Q2: How wide and deep and what size of boats?

A2: It will be a broad canal with a navigation channel 9 metres wide and 1.5 metres deep, but the total width will be 15 metres where possible. The locks will accommodate boats up to 22 metres (72 feet) long, 4.5 metres (14 feet) wide and 1.3 metres (4 feet) deep (draft). Boats up to 9 feet high above water level at their highest point will be able to pass through the bridges which will have a 3 metre clearance above the water level.

The canal will be the focus of a string of waterway parks which will be as wide as planning space allows with paths; planting; leisure space; attractions and facilities on either or both sides of the water. It is a current plan to have a “multi-use” path about 3 metres wide on one side of the waterway which can be set back from the water’s edge in some places to allow anglers to fish without obstructing the pathway for other users.

Q3: When will it be built?

A3: This will be done in stages as funds are raised, over the coming 10-20 years. The Consortium are securing the route in local plans and seeking such funds.

Q4: How will the canal cross the M1?

A4: The canal will pass under the M1 through a tunnel, using the disused Cattle Creep (20 ft wide and 20 ft high) under the M1 just south of Junction 13 and just north of the Bletchley to Bedford railway tunnel. Negotiations with the Highways Agency have led to the Agency giving a memorandum of understanding that the planned modifications of Junction 13 will not preclude this solution.

Q5: How long is Milton Keynes Waterway Park?

A5: 7.5km.

Q6: What will it cost?

A6: We expected it to cost about £30M - £40M to build the project, including contingencies. This excludes the land which is being made available at no cost. There are a number of schemes to raise money from other sources and we are still working with the engineering consultants to find ways of reducing the total cost.

Q7: How will the canal work through Willen Lake?

A7: We hope the canal channel will run along the southern edge and be buoyed off from the rest of the lake. There will be visitor moorings for boaters on the shore side.

Q8: Will there be boats permanently moored along the Waterway Park?

A8: No, only short stay visitor moorings at appropriate places. There will be long term and visitor moorings in the marina at the far end of the Waterway Park, and at other marina sites that may be developed.

Q9: Where will the water come from?

A9: The Grand Union Canal will feed the locks down to Willen Lake. The rest of the water will come from Broughton Brook and the rain run offs from the building development along the route. The canal will act as a balancing pond for these developments.

Q10: How long will it take to build the Waterway Park?

A10: The approach being taken is to break the entire project into a number of smaller sub-projects, some of which can be undertaken independently, as funding is obtained. In some cases, work on the Waterway Park will hopefully be linked to the development of the surrounding land.

The B&MK A-Z Project Delivery Plan 2014 focuses on those sections where progress is currently being made and/or where there is real potential on the near horizon.

Q11: What will happen to the earth dug out to build the canal?

A11: We hope it can be used to build a protective bund (or bank) to provide landscaping along the route and to reduce traffic noise from the M1 and A421.

Q12: Who will look after the Waterway Park when it is built?

A12: The Parks Trust and The Canal & River Trust. The Parks Trust will look after the “parks” elements of the Waterway Park, and The Canal & River Trust will look after the structures and operational aspects of the “waterway”.

Design guides

The Waterway is designed to be a broad canal that can accommodate a wide range of boats on the water and different users on paths beside it.

Because we can design a canal for a variety of uses at the outset, rather than trying to squeeze a variety of uses into a space designed 200 years ago for freight, we have a unique opportunity to apply ‘blue skies’ thinking to the development of Waterways for the future.

The B&MK Waterway Park will be a prime example of the best in 21st century engineering, landscaping and design – a truly sustainable development.

The first sections to be built will act as a testbed to demonstrate new ways to create value in communities by adding water. Once completed they will provide models not only for completing this Waterway but also for inspiring other urban development projects.