Restoration Plan: Lapal East; Phase-3

EP3 The Weoley Castle (Heritage) Section [LEWC] :

This approximately 894 yds (818m) long section includes the three sub-sections of Burnel Road (west), Weoley Castle and the Roadstone approach to the California Portal, and has been identified as the Phase-3 restoration project.
It has already been noted that this Phase-3 restoration project need not be undertaken until the restoration of the Lapal Tunnel itself is deemed to be viable or has already been achieved.

EP 3.1 Burnel Road [LE6] :

Up to and including Bottetort Road, the channel in the Burnel Road backland is substantially infilled and the exact line of the cut is obscured. Since the removal of the pedestrian bridge across the former canal, Bottetort Road has never been made continuous and the approximate line of the canal is preserved as a large grass verge, crossed by two pedestrian footpaths. A new bridge [LE6B] will be required here to maintain the pedestrian crossing. However, in view of the space available, an 'N'-shaped (or lazy-S) construction (in plan) would provide gentle inclines ("wheel access") rising from east to west on the north side and descending east to west on the south side; perhaps as a "mirror-image" version of the bridge to be provided at the Lodge Hill crossing [LE4B]. (It is understood that a full road bridge would not generally be favoured here, to prevent additional anti-social vehicle activities.)

EP 3.2 Weoley Castle [LE7 & LE8] :

From Bottetort Road the infilled canal and continuation walkway passes the fenced-off ruins of Weoley Castle to an existing Bridge [LE7B] at the cul-de-sac end of Somery Road. This bridge appears to be in fairly good condition having had little use other than by pedestrians. The canal then enters the California Roadstone premises [LE8], being the remnants of Ward's Brickworks, from where it proceeds to the Eastern Portal of the Lapal Tunnel [LTEP], a further 75 yds on. At present, the Portal is obscured by infill and landscaping. Within the Roadstone premises, the former channel is concreted, for vehicle loading. (In recent times, these premises appear to have had little use.)

The short section of canal which passes the Weoley Castle grounds [LE7], does so through the backland of Paganel Road. If the towpath was established on the south side, these properties would benefit from "moat security " and the towpath could become connected to the grounds of the Weoley Castle ruins as an integrated historical feature. Conversely, if it was considered more appropriate for the Ruins to be protected by "moat security", the towpath could be reinstated on its original north side, where many of the houses already have the security of substantial fences and tree-screens. Then, if required, the Somery Road Bridge [LE8A] would be provided with gradual-incline ramps to become a roving bridge from where a south-side towpath could continue along the Roadstone section. (The modifications could be made in such a way that this bridge closely resembles the modified Selly Oak Park masonry accommodation bridge.)

EP 3.2.1 Weoley Castle Moat Canal

If "moat security" was deemed to be a significant requirement for the Ruins of Weoley Castle (as protection against vandalism), it is feasible, at least in principle, to construct an additional loop of canal around the Ruins within the existing moat profile. This would completely isolate the Ruins but leave them visible from the towpath, which would be installed on the outside of the entire ("D-shaped") loop. The land between the Ruins and the former canal channel might become a Wide. Fencing on the offside (i.e. inside) of this canal loop could provide an additional deterrent to entry into the site. Legitimate entry to the Ruins 'island' would be provided by a lockable (possibly, swing) bridge.
If this canal loop was implemented, it is also likely to offer (from an engineering viewpoint) a more accessible point of entry for the diverted Stonehouse Brook water.

EP 3.2.2 "Final Approach" [LE8, LTEP]

The Roadstone section [LE8] has to be entirely rebuilt between Somery Road and the Portal. From an engineering viewpoint, the choice of towpath side is ambivalent. However, the adjoining Ullswater Close properties would benefit from "moat security" if it was on the south side. As noted earlier, Tunnel Restoration has a significant bearing on all these issues.

The significant volume of landfill, in the vicinity of the California Portal beyond the Roadstone section, is known to include household refuse from the seventies. There is a continuing and serious risk from methane generation, including seepage into the Tunnel. Remedial work may be required of the LCT, well before Tunnel restoration commences. (The Trust is looking for expert advice.)

Meanwhile, an intriguing alternative possibility to circumvent this unfortunate legacy, might be to extend the Lapal Tunnel through this infill site to a new Eastern Portal, approximately at the western boundary of the Roadstone premises.
If so, the Lapal Tunnel would then be about 4000 yds long and so become the second longest in the UK!
(Only the Standedge Tunnel on the Huddersfield Narrow exceeds this, at 5698 yards.)

EP 3.2.3 Additional Water Supply

It has already been noted (in the Outline Plan) that water seepage into the Tunnel will make a contribution to the water requirements of the restored canal and hence the BCN. It is also useful to note again that the Stonehouse Brook flanks the south side of this California Portal landfill site, alongside Stonebrook Way (road). By far the most simple diversion for this water into the canal, would be a culvert which meets the canal near the Portal. If so, the remainder of the existing culvert could be dismantled and infilled to contribute additional land to development initiatives. Although the culvert itself is, on average, only a few yards wide, it occupies a much wider corridor of space which could be released by this expedient.
Provisional surveys of water levels suggest that this option may be physically viable.

EP 3.2.4 Integrated Development

It is useful to consider that if significant funds were to become available, perhaps by way of appropriate commercial interest, there is scope to consider some very imaginative plans for an integrated development of the Triangle with the Bottetort Road and the Weoley Castle sections. Without acquiring any of the private dwellings in the vicinity, it is possible for the canal and its south-side area to be developed with facilities which benefit the local community as well as the canal users. This could include a navigation loop in the former moat of the Ruins to protect them, as on an island, from intrusion except by legitimate visitors who access the site via a lockable (perhaps, swing) bridge.

EP 3.2.5 The California Marina

A solution to the previously identified methane-generating infill at the California portal could be a marina. There is no such facility elsewhere on the BCN. The removal of the waste together with some simple landscaping could transform the current open land into a useful facility of this kind. This could occur in the immediate vicinity of the Tunnel portal, or in the adjoining land which was the premises of the Roadstone company.

 

Strategy Plan Phase-1 Phase-2 Phase-3
    Parkland Backland Meander Heritage Flank
Western Approach Canal :  West West Hawne Basin / Leasowes Park Abbeyfields St Mary's
Eastern Approach Canal :  East East Battery Park / Selly Oak Park Lodge Hill Weoley Castle