£31 million boost for Shropshire's great outdoors
Shropshire's tourism "jewels" - including the River Severn, Dudmaston and Mere - could benefit from a £31 million investment in our great outdoors.
A 10-year vision aims to raise the profile of the county’s ‘exceptional outdoor assets’ while also improving the health of those who live in Shropshire.
Swan Hill Depot at Ellesmere’s Mere would be developed into a watersports centre and cafe as part of the plans.
Businesses would be encouraged to bring leisure pursuits along the River Severn and the county’s canals. And a cycling centre would be built on the National Trust’s Dudmaston Estate near Bridgnorth.
Shropshire Council said the proposals are dependant on bringing in outside funding and grants and also working to encourage commercial ventures.
Outdoor activities already support 2,200 jobs in Shropshire and the 10-year plan aims to increase the county’s economic return by 25 per cent to £125m by developing green spaces, rights of way and other access across the county.
It wants to increase the number of people who use Shropshire’s green spaces from an estimated 135,000 to 200,000 a year and improve the amount of open access countryside and promoting exiting rights of way.
A package of measures includes working with other bodies at sites including Furbers at Whixall Fenn, the development of the canal in Market Drayton, Ellesmere and Whitchurch as economic assets for the towns and the development and upgrading of towpaths in Shropshire, particularly between Chirk Bank and St Martins and around Ellesmere.
Shropshire Council chief executive Clive Wright said: “Participation in outdoor activity is increasing, with more people walking and cycling, and visitors increasingly looking to be active on holiday and to connect with nature.
“There has been limited investment in some of the outdoor assets in recent years and there is an opportunity for them to make a greater impact.
“The River Severn is the longest river in the country and is used by canoe activity companies and individuals, anglers and rowing enthusiasts – along with the Sabrina river boat in Shrewsbury – but there is much more opportunity to develop.”
The canal could also bring more visitors to Shropshire.
It has been estimated that canal access improvement schemes in Shropshire will bring a 10 per growth in visitor numbers to the towpath.
“An improved canal corridor, along with the high quality rural setting, will help to enhance the attractiveness of the area to visitors, enable access throughout the year, and increase visitor dwell and expenditure in the local economy,” said Mr Wright,