25 October 2022
IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch submitted an objection to a Canal & River Trust planning application for Listed Building Consent for alterations at Hazelhurst Top Lock (Lock 10). IWA objected strongly on heritage and health and safety grounds to one aspect of the application, which was the proposal for a fabricated “restrictor” on the end of the balance beams. Despite what the Heritage Design and Access Statement says, we were concerned that this would have had a detrimental impact on the heritage setting of the Listed lock (which is also part of a conservation area), and would have introduced a new unexpected hazard to boaters operating the lock, who would no longer be able to pass around the end of the balance beam in an emergency, for example if the gate is swinging closed of its own accord. The problem at this lock is that the balance beams are too long for the original stonework of the lock. We suggested that this could be rectified by reducing the length of the balance beams and adding additional weight underneath (if the balance of the gate is affected), as has been done in many other locations around Canal & River Trust’s network of waterways. This view has been endorsed by IWA’s national Navigation Committee. Objections were also submitted by the Caldon and Uttoxeter Canals Trust and the Historic Narrow Boat Club for the same reasons.
We recently heard that our objections have been taken on board, as Canal & River Trust have removed the part of the application referring to the balance beam “restrictors”. They are now planning simply to move the handles on the end of the balance beams to align with the quadrant below, as well as investigate the possibility of shortening the beam.