Canterbury Riverside Parks and Footpaths, 1987

Booklet cover

In 1987, Canterbury City Council published, as a draft policy statement, this report on its plans for developing parks and paths (including cycle paths) along the riverside in Canterbury:

Significant aspects of the policy

Although much of this policy statement deals with parks and footpaths, the provision of cycle routes is certainly not overlooked. Here we pick out aspects of the report that are still relevant today.


Where possible, provision for cycleways will be incorporated into the riverside scheme. (page vi)

The riverside in Canterbury is a much neglected hidden asset. A policy of opening up the riverside has existed since 1953 and in 1973 the former Canterbury City Council published a booklet entitled "Riverside Area -- Footpaths and Recreation" setting out that Council's aims for the riverside in the old City of Canterbury area. (page 1)

KCC in conjunction with the Dept of Transport has made funds available for the establishment of cycleways in certain selected areas as a means of increasing safety for cyclists and Canterbury is one such area. These funds are for 70% of the cost of essential schemes and 100% of the cost of innovatory schemes. There is a particular need to provide a safe cross town route for cyclists and to protect them from busy traffic on the A28. (page 8)

Examination of the potential for accommodating cycleway routes was undertaken according to the following criteria:- (page 9)

  1. Where cycle traffic was expected to be heavy, cyclists and pedestrians would not normally share the same route
  2. Where cycle traffic was expected to be light, the possibility of cyclists and pedestrians sharing the same route was investigated
  3. Ways of preventing motor cyclists from using possible cycle routes were investigated.

The Canterbury to Chartham route

In the long term all these lakes [the old gravel workings near Tonford Manor] should form the destination for a riverside walk from the Toddler' Cove area of Westgate Gardens. (page 19)

[This map shows the "Proposed footpath or track" that will runs along the north bank of the river, from Toddler's Cove as far as Milton Bridge. This is the exact route taken by the new Chartham-Canterbury cycle track.] (page 26, page 27)

The dykes [just beyond the Elham Valley Railway embankment] need bridging to enable a riverside route to be created. (page 27)

The final priority is to provide riverside footpaths from the Westgate Gardens to Milton Manor, ... (page 71)

Canterbury centre to Vauxhall Road

Kingsmead Road to Barton Mill

All the existing footpaths and tracks require considerable upgrading if they are to be promoted as part of the riverside walk system. ... FP39 between Barton Mill and Kingsmead Road poses a particular problem in that a river incursion through the bank has destroyed approximately one and a half metres of public footpath. (page 51)

It is possible that a cycleway might need to be incorporated into the footpath system on the island as part of the route to avoid the A28. If so, it is recommended that cycles be restricted to the northern side of the island. [This path has recently [Nov 2010] been upgraded to a cycle track running along the southern border of the new Kingsmead Park estate.] (page 51)

Barton Mill to Vauxhall Road (south Bank)

This section presents the greatest environmental problems and access to the riverside is not easy. Providing a link through this area is dependent on ultimate proposals for the route of a Sturry Radial road but it should be stated that, in princple, the long term aria is to provide a riverside path and possibly a cycle track on the south bank. (page 64)

Priorities for land acquisition

... Acquisition of the above plots [Bus Company Island, Kingsmead, and Barton Island] ... will allow a continuous riverside footpath between the Westgate Gardens and Vauxhall Road to be created along the main Stour river. (page 71)

Willow close to Vauxhall Road

FP39 runs through the older part of the mill [Barton Mill] linking Kingsmead Island to Sturry Road but he mills complex and land ownership means that a riverside link between Kingsmead Island and Willow Close is not possible at present...

There are several important issues to be resolved ... The issues are: (page 62)

  1. providing a riverside link along Barton Mill island between Kingsmead Island and Willow Close; and Willow Close and Glenside Avenue.

Willow Close to Vauxhall Road (North Bank)

The longest complete stretch of riverside walk begins at a garage court in Willow Close and continues along the riverside to Vauxhall Road past the nature reserve at Vauxhall Lakes, the CEGB station and industrial units. ... It is gated at Willow Close to deter motorbikes and is only accessible to determined walkers throughout musch of its length. Until recently, this was one of the most attractive parts of the riverside -- a deeply wooded, secluded place screened off from the outside world by dense foliage. (page 63)

Summary Map

[This maps shows the proposed paths along both the north and south banks of the Stour between Willow Close and Vauxhall Road.] (page 68, page 69)

Vauxhall Road to Sturry

Interestingly, the report identified as one of its top priorites, the need for a footpath (and cycleway) running along the Stour from Canterbury to Sturry:

After bank repairs, the highest priority is to provide a footpath along the Great Stour from the Westgate Gardens to Sturry. (page ix)

Downstream from Barton Mill island there is little opportunity or need for providing general riverside recreational activities. The major emphasis is on providing an attractive riverside walk to Sturry through some of the most unattractive industrial areas in the City. The precise route of the walk between Vauxhall Road and Sturry depends on the final routes chosed for the Sturry Radial and Sturry by-pass roads. In principle, the north bank of the river should be reserved for walkers only. The south bank may at some time in the future be used for more intensive access, such as a cycle track. ... This stretch has many problems to overcome and cannot be implemented quickly. (page 61)

Vauxhall Road to Sturry The river splits into two branches as it approaches Sturry. Providing the exact route of the link between Vauxhall Road and Sturry depends on the final alignment of the Sturry bypass and it is only possible to provide brief guidelines for the walk at this stage. ... In principle, the walk should attempt to follow both branches of the river to Sturry. (page 65)

Summary Map

[This maps shows the proposed paths along both branches of the Stour between Vauxhall Road and Sturry.] (page 68, page 69)

The final priority is to provide riverside footpaths ... on the south bank from Barton Mill to Sturry. (page 71)

It is disappointing to note that, nearly a quarter of a century later, the major part of this path/cycleway (that is, the section from from Vauxhill Bridge to Sturry) has yet to be incorporated in current plans, let alone realised.