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Harnessing the Potential of London’s Canalside Spaces 

10 January 2024

3 mins

By Sharon Prendeville and Anna Grosman

Sasha Galitzine from community project ‘Gerry’s Pompeii’1 speaking about their initiative during the boat tour 

On a frosty day in late November 2023, Loughborough University London’s Dr Anna Grosman2 and Dr Sharon Prendeville3, in collaboration with Your Canal Boat CIC4, hosted a stakeholder event to engage key actors on pathways for harnessing the potential of under-utilised canalside spaces across the boroughs of Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea.

Dr Grosman introducing the event

Notably, the event was hosted on a boat, which cruised along the West London canal network, showcasing an array of sites that have received varying degrees of attention and investment over the years. Starting at Ladbroke Grove, the boat tour showcased positive examples of community-led regeneration and improvement, such as through the community efforts of Hermione Byrt and Chandrika Dalpat at Meanwhile Gardens5, to offer inspiration. Other sites, such as the Westway flyover, are identified as spaces that pose long-standing, complex design and governance challenges, as explained to the group on the day by Matt Hopkins of Group 19 Architects. A prior community engagement initiative ‘Building Dialogues’, hosted by Your Canal Boat CIC earlier in 2023, focused on canal side interventions beneath the Westway Flyover. Throughout the event, each site was presented by the Lead stakeholder, followed by a discussion with the rest of the group on the opportunities and challenges faced by stakeholders of each site. Common themes identified at the event included a complex array of shared ownership arrangements, security challenges, access to nature, ecology and sustainability of these sites.

Neglected sites include ‘The Stumpery’ at Ladbroke Grove (second image) and The Westway Flyover

The event was attended by members of Westminster Council’s place-shaping team, the Greater London Authority’s Nature Recovery Programme, Paddington Development Trust, Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation, Your Canal Boat CIC, Imperial College and Loughborough University, amongst others and many community groups with stakes in the sites. A short documentary showcasing the issues and possibilities in relation to harnessing these sites will be produced by the documentary maker Tom Walker (previously working on BBC projects) and launched at a follow-up event on 7th February 2024 at Loughborough University London on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. This event will be co-hosted with Loughborough’s Policy Unit and will launch an insights report and policy recommendations for key actors to take forward.

Stakeholders discussing opportunities and challenges aboard the ‘Elsdale II’ 
Katherine Spence from the place-shaping team at Westminster Council discussing their ongoing work relevant to the sites

The event is part of a larger programme of activities led by Dr Grosman focused on innovation and entrepreneurship in-and-around London canal ways, with a particular focus on governance for improved social and ecological outcomes. The work is sponsored by the Impact and Knowledge Exchange Accelerator funding of Loughborough University drawn from the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) of Research England.

For further information or to register for the 7th February 2024 Canalside Strategy event at Loughborough University, please contact Dr Anna Grosman or Dr Sharon Prendeville







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