The Grand Union Canal and a chain of nearby green spaces in Southall are set to host a new Wellbeing Way, supported by Green and Resilient Spaces funding of £700,000 announced this week by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Kahn.

Catalyst is working together with waterways and wellbeing charity Canal & River Trust, Ealing Council, and Ealing Council’s Sport England National Lottery funded Let’s Go Southall project, to transform the canal towpaths and surrounding green spaces in Southall. The improvements will provide opportunities for Southall’s community and visitors to lead more active lives and boost their wellbeing, while enhancing the biodiversity and climate resilience of the area.

The Southall Grand Union Canal Wellbeing Way is a green corridor that wraps around Southall, allowing local people to step away from the urban streets and connect with nature. The funding will be used to integrate the canal with nearby green spaces and to carry out a series of enrichments, including waterside place-making, creating new habitats for wildlife, works to the towpath to improve the surface and allow better access to the canal, play and interpretation, flood resilience, and gardening and stewardship to allow nature and people to thrive.

This exciting project will be co-designed by members of the Southall community, some of whom have already been involved in shaping the plans for the Wellbeing Way. Active volunteering participation will be encouraged in the creation and onwards nurturing of these special spaces.

Ros Daniels, regional director for Canal & River Trust, said: “Spending time by the water makes people healthier and happier, and the Southall Grand Union Canal Wellbeing Way is a fantastic opportunity to make a real difference to the wellbeing of the local community. Each green and blue place will provide a unique point of interest and opportunity for people to get to know, love and care for their canal and its surrounding spaces, through exploring, exercising, enjoying quality time with friends and family, getting involved in cultural activities, and creating and caring for gardens and wildlife habitat.

“Since the start of the pandemic, people have gravitated towards their local canal towpaths and green spaces and discovered the wellbeing benefits of being by water and connecting with nature. We know how important the canal and green spaces are for people in Southall to take a breath, take time out and spend time with others, as well as being active and outside. The new towpath will provide more space for everybody and have a better surface so the canal can be enjoyed in all weathers.”

Councillor Deirdre Costigan, Ealing Council cabinet member for climate action, said: “This is a wonderful opportunity to transform and improve areas around the canal, providing spaces for local residents to enjoy. Open spaces are so important for health and wellbeing, and combining those open spaces with waterways can only be more beneficial.

“I’m really pleased that local residents have already been involved in the ideas stage of the Wellbeing Way and know there will be no shortage in volunteers going forward to come and take part in the development and ongoing nurturing of these spaces.”

Nicola Wheeler, Catalyst’s head of community investment, added: “The health and wellbeing benefits of being in touch with nature are immeasurable, particularly for children. So, after being part of a series of smaller improvement schemes in the area over the past few years, we are delighted to join forces with our partners on this large-scale effort to make the canal and nearby green spaces more accessible and enjoyable to visit. We all share a desire to help local communities thrive, while protecting the environment for future generations.”

Warren Leigh, strategic lead for Sport England, added “The Southall Grand Union Canal Wellbeing Way will provide a great opportunity for the Southall community to enjoy a range of outdoor activity as part of their daily life. Working with Ealing Council and partners, our National Lottery funded Let’s Go Southall programme will continue to support the engagement and development of this exciting opportunity to help maximise the health, wellbeing, and environmental benefits for everyone in Southall.”

The project will draw a green and blue thread connecting Spikes Bridge Park on the Grand Union Canal Paddington Arm in the northwest of Southall via the Bull’s Bridge canal junction through to Glade Lane Canalside Park and the Hanwell Lock Flight, linking Bankside, Southall Recreation Ground, Bixley Field and Havelock Canalside space on the way. The project will take place between 2022 and 2024 and develop a legacy of wellbeing activities for the Southall community.

Get updates via the project webpage