Developing initiatives to improve financial stability
A British Waterways case study

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Page 4: Funding

British Waterways 4 Image 5There is a widespread recognition of the vital role of waterways and their role as an important catalyst for urban and rural change. As a result, a variety of sources of funding have helped to co-fund water-related regeneration and development projects. These funds cannot be used to meet or substitute Government statutory obligations and can only be used on canals called ‘Remainder’ canals which receive no direct grant funding. The funding sources have included:

  • Heritage Lottery Fund - one of the five UK Lottery funds which can be used to support capital projects which improve the heritage of canals and their setting.
  • Sports Lottery Funding – another Lottery fund administered by National Sports Councils for capital projects which create and improve facilities for sport.
  • Single Regeneration Budget (SRB) - a competitive programme administered by regional Government offices which supports initiatives which ‘protect and improve the environment and infrastructure and promote good design’.
  • Rural Challenge - an annual competitive challenge programme administered by the Rural Development Commission.
  • English Partnerships awards to fund projects that reclaim derelict land or act as a catalyst for regeneration.
  • Millennium Commission – to assist communities in marketing the close of the second millennium and in celebrating the start of the third.

There are also European sources such as:

  • European Structural Funds - European Union aid to lesser developed regions and to sectors of the community in difficulty is channelled largely through these funds.
  • Regional Challenge – a competitive challenge fund designed to stimulate large and imaginative projects.
  • Other European funds, known as community initiatives, focus on deprivation caused by more specific reasons.

These include initiatives such as:

  • Rechar - funding aimed at improving the physical and social environment in coal mining areas to aid economic regeneration.
  • Konver - an EU programme directed at areas experiencing the run-down of military or other defence establishments.

British Waterways has been involved in many different partnership projects. In the Lowlands of Scotland, £32 million of funding from the Millennium Commission is partnering £46 million of private, voluntary and other investment to restore coast-to-coast navigation. In the south of England, £25 million, the Heritage Lottery Fund’s largest-ever award, is helping to restore the Kennet & Avon Canal. This type of third-party funding is helping British Waterways to make massive increases in investment.


Britain’s 200-year old waterway system is a vital part of the nation’s cultural and architectural heritage. British Waterways is responsible for more than 2,800 listed buildings and structures, and more than 130 scheduled monuments that create the environment of the waterways.

British Waterways owns nonoperational investment property worth around £210 million. Whilst the majority of land is needed to operate the waterway network, the remainder provides a sizeable income which can be spent both on canal maintenance and developing buildings as part of the waterway heritage.

British Waterways 4 Diagram 2Income comes mainly in the form of rents, licences and wayleaves. One of the roles of British Waterways’ commercial department is to ensure that property income and the value of the portfolio rises. The surveyors negotiate improved leases on existing property and create new income from development. Direct property income has increased over a twelve year period from £4.4 million per annum in 1985/86 to £19.6 million in 1997/8.

British Waterways seeks to improve the quality and certainty of its income through a process of disposal and re-investment or acquisition, thereby achieving a better property portfolio. For example, British Waterways invested £2.5 million in a partnership with the Sheffield Development Corporation which facilitated the redevelopment of some 20 acres, including residential, commercial and leisure areas which is now producing a significant income.

British Waterways | Developing initiatives to improve financial stability