Ownership of reservoir that feeds Birmingham Canal Network changes

The ownership of the reservoir that provides British Waterways with essential water to maintain levels in the Birmingham Canal Network, and beyond has been transferred.

The ownership of Chasewater Country Park and reservoir has transferred to Staffordshire County Council in a strategic move set to secure and strengthen the long-term future of this key regional resource. Recently the reservoir had to be emptied as part of essential multi-million pound improvement works to the dam.

Chasewater Reservoir was created in 1797 to feed the local canal network which was the main transport hub for the industrial revolution in the Midlands.

Previously, Chasewater Country Park and reservoir were owned and managed by Lichfield District Council, which inherited the park in 1994 following a local authority boundary change. Since then, millions of pounds have been pumped into the park’s transformation, thanks to the work of the district and county council, together with external grant funding.

The Chasewater Reservoir is one of the largest reservoirs in the West Midlands and the Chasewater Country Park attracts around 150,000 visitors a year.

County Councillor Mark Winnington, Cabinet Member for Environment and Assets, said: “Chasewater Country Park consists of 360 hectares of open space, and is a fantastic fit for the county’s property portfolio.

“It will join our network of 12 country parks and open spaces which are run as leisure attractions and havens for wildlife.

“We are already looking at potential ways of developing Chasewater further as a cultural and economic facility. The county council operates the Chasewater Innovation Centre which has tremendous development potential. The site also lies very close to where the Staffordshire Hoard was discovered, and we are keen to work with our Mercian Trail partners to see what opportunities could exist for telling the story of this breathtaking piece of our local history at Chasewater.

“We are also keen to develop relations with all the many community groups that currently use Chasewater and seek their views on the site’s potential. This will include Chasewater Railway, the sailing club, wildlife group and other stakeholder groups. There is also the county council run Outdoor Education Centre that could benefit. We will look at all options to draw more people to the area and benefit the local economy.

“We will build on the good work Lichfield District Council has carried up to this point.”

Councillor Val Richards, Deputy Leader of Lichfield District Council, explains: “It is most unusual for a small district council like ours to be responsible for managing such an integral part of the nation’s infrastructure. Managing an asset of this size places a huge burden on the district council and our small number of council tax payers. We are incredibly grateful to the team at Staffordshire County Council for working alongside us, and for agreeing to take over the future ownership and management of the park and dam.”

Under the move Chasewater Country Park will continue to be managed by a team at Lichfield District Council for the next three years and the county council will lead the completion of the essential improvement works to the dam.

Councillor Mark Winnington continued: “We have a broad range of skills within the county council that include complex engineering project management such as the dam improvements.

“Staffordshire County Council and Lichfield District Council are committed to ensuring that the public will continue to be able to enjoy the attractions of Chasewater in coming years, and that through the works to the dam, the safety of all those living nearby will be secured. There will be no additional costs to the tax payer as a result of the transfer, and once the works are complete local people and visitors will be able to enjoy ChasewaterCountryParkat its very best once again.”

About Chasewater Country Park

There are excellent bird watching, rambling and cycling opportunities and a children’s play area.

It is also home to the Chasewater Railway, a heritage steam railway run by volunteers.

The county council already operates the Chasewater Innovation Centre and an outdoor education centre which are either on or adjacent to the site, and already owns large parts of the park, including a large section of the eastern dam.

via Chasewater joins Staffordshire County Council’s family of country parks | Lichfield District Council.

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