Building work on Castle Quay 2 means no 2017 canal day for Banbury

Banbury Canal Day. NNL-160410-105435001

Banbury Canal Day. NNL-160410-105435001

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Banbury’s popular Canal Day will not be held this year due to work being carried out on Castle Quay 2.

Town councillors at Tuesday’s general services committee heard work on the extension to Castle Quay shopping centre was due to start in summer this year and much of the area used by the canal day would become a building site. The canal day was due to be held on October 1.

During the building work, both sides of the canal, between the BHS bridge and Tom Rolt bridge would be fenced off.

Major car parks used for parking for the event would also be out of action and fencing along the canal’s towpath would have a negative impact on the appearance of the canal day event.

Holding the canal day while work is taking place on CQ2 would also have an impact on health and safety.

Changing the date of the canal day has been considered, including holding it earlier in the year or merging it with the Banbury and District Show.

But both options have been ruled out after talking to boaters, many of whom travel during the summer months and would be unable to come.

Chairman of the general services committee, Cllr Colin Clarke, said the decision was taken reluctantly.

He said: “The canal day is the biggest event the town council organises. We get something in the region of 10,000 to 12,000 people. It is very popular.

“Because of the Castle Quay development, it would give the town council considerable problems trying to bring the canal day together in a safe environment.

“The decision has been made reluctantly but, at the end of the day health and safety has to take priority. Fifty per cent of the canal towpath we would be using would not be available.”

Work on CQ2 is expected to be completed by winter 2018.

Councillor Clarke said: “There may be implications for canal day next year, but we will wait and see how the development goes ahead.”

Once the shopping centre extension is built, the canal day will have to be restructured as it will no longer have access to the outdoor car parking area near BHS, which usually accommodates 48 stalls.

This year would have been the 14th year for the canal day, which is based around The Mill, Tooley’s Boatyard, Banbury Museum and Sovereign Wharf.

It also includes an art and craft market on Chamberlain Court car park, entertainment on parts of Spiceball Park and food and drink on Compton Road.