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 need to 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.

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.

Q5: Where will the water come from?

A5: 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. In Marston Valley the water will come mainly from local water courses including the Elstow Brook and will work as a balancing facility linked in to Brogborough and Stewartby Lakes

Q6: How long will it take to build the Waterway Park?

A6: 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.

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.