Ambitious plans to create a new linear park inspired by New York City’s High Line at the western gateway to the Forth & Clyde Canal have taken another step forward with the granting of planning consent for the project.
Scottish Canals and its partners are currently fundraising for the development of the route, which will transform a 120-year-old disused railway bridge at Bowling Harbour in West Dunbartonshire into a fully accessible linear park and pathway. This new route, the latest stage of a £3.2 million project to breathe new life into the area, will form a direct link between the Forth & Clyde Canal towpath and the National Cycle Network route towards Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park.
Helena Huws, design and development manager at Scottish Canals, said: “Over the past few years, we’ve been working with our partners and the local community to breathe new life into Bowling Harbour, investing more than £3.2m in the area. The transformation of the area’s iconic railway bridge into an innovative new parkway overlooking the canal and the River Clyde is the next step in that story and we’re delighted that the project has received planning consent.
“Our recent win at the Scottish Government’s Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning was a fantastic accolade for the masterplan we’ve helped shape with the local community. We look forward to building on that success to bring further investment, employment opportunities and vibrancy to Bowling.”
The community-led transformation of the area is being undertaken by Scottish Canals in partnership with West Dunbartonshire Council with support from the Coastal Communities Fund, Sustrans Scotland, and Historic Environment Scotland. Over the past three years, the project has refurbished the arches of the area’s decommissioned railway bridge, transforming them into commercial units and bringing new businesses, activity, vibrancy and economic benefits to the canalside community. The project was recently recognised at the Scottish Government’s Awards for Quality in Planning, taking home the prize for place-based regeneration.
Dave Keane, community links manager at Sustrans Scotland, said: “We are really pleased to be working in partnership with Scottish Canals for further regeneration in Bowling.
“The project has great potential to further attract people to the area, whilst connecting the corridor as a more direct and enjoyable traffic free route. We hope this will encourage people to walk and cycle for more of the journeys they make every day.”
Bowling Harbour’s viaduct swing bridge was constructed in 1896 to carry the Caledonian and Dunbartonshire Railway over the Forth & Clyde Canal. After the railway was abandoned in 1960, the bridge fell into disrepair. Thanks to funding support from Sustrans and Historic Environment Scotland, Scottish Canals has undertaken vital repairs to the structure’s badly corroded metalwork and repainted the entire span.
A short summary video of the transformation of Bowling Harbour so far and a look at its future
The masterplan for the area was shaped by the award-winning Bowling Basin Charrette – a collaborative design programme which saw the local community work with other stakeholders, agencies and industry experts to develop a shared plan for its future. The village is identified by West Dunbartonshire Council as a key regeneration and development priority.
Bowling, which sits on the northern bank of the Firth of Clyde and near the western terminus of the ancient Antonine Wall, was a major transport hub during the Industrial Revolution and was vital to the success of the River Clyde, the Forth & Clyde Canal and the Caledonian and Dunbartonshire Railway.