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Planning Application submitted for Whittington Wharf Narrowboats in Ellesmere, Shropshire.


Project delivery for Whittington Wharf Narrowboats in Shropshire to assist in the development of as new steel portal framed maintenance and workshop building, at Maestermyn Marina, Welsh Frankton, north Shropshire. 

Following on from a successful planning application for a new steel framed building at Maestermyn Marina Marina, En-Plan were approached by the owners to help with the project delivery as there were outstanding planning and building regulation matters that needed addressing in order to allow the project to progress.

Whittington Wharf Narrowboats itself is a friendly, family run canal boat holiday hire company situated on the Llangollen Canal in the idyllic countryside of Shropshire. They rent boats to cruise the beautiful Llangollen Canal and are located in north Shropshire. Whittington Marina is ideally situated to cruise the Llangollen, Montgomery and Shropshire Union Canals. Whittington Marina is located only 8 cruising hours away from Llangollen town.

To put the site into a geographical and historical context the Llangollen Canal (Welsh: Camlas Llangollen) is a navigable canal crossing the border between England and Wales. The waterway links Llangollen in Denbighshire, north Wales, with Hurleston in south Cheshire, via the town of Ellesmere, Shropshire. The name, which was coined in the 1980s, is a modern designation for parts of the historic Ellesmere Canal and the Llangollen navigable feeder, both of which became part of the Shropshire Union Canals in 1846.

The Ellesmere Canal was proposed by industrialists at Ruabon and Brymbo, and two disconnected sections were built. The northern section ran from Ellesmere Port on the River Mersey to Chester, where it joined the Chester Canal, and opened in 1795. Work on the southern section began at Frankton, with a line southwards to Llanymynech, and subsequently, a second section was built westwards towards Trevor. This involved crossing the Afon Ceiriog and the River Dee, which was achieved by building two vast aqueducts, using iron troughs to contain the water. The Ceiriog was crossed at Chirk, and Chirk Aqueduct opened in 1801, to exploit local supplies of iron and coal. The canal then passed through Chirk Tunnel, and reached the southern end of Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in 1802, which was not completed until 1805. To join the two halves up, a heavily engineered route from Trevor Basin via Ruabon and Brymbo to the River Dee at Chester was planned, but very little of it was built. Instead, the present route from Frankton to Hurleston Junction on the Chester Canal was constructed, and opened in 1805. As the route never reached the water reservoir at Moss Valley, Wrexham (built in 1786), a navigable feeder was built to Llantisilio where the Horseshoe Falls weir was constructed on the River Dee to supply the canal.

As part of the Shropshire Union system, the canal from Hurleston to Llangollen thrived until the end of the First World War, after which it saw very little traffic. Navigation was formally abandoned under the terms of an Act of Abandonment obtained by the owners, the London Midland and Scottish Railway, in 1944, but the channel was retained as it still supplied water to the main line of the Shropshire Union, and subsequently to the Mid & South East Cheshire Water Board. This arrangement was due to end in 1954, but as there was no alternative supply of water, the powers were extended. Early pioneering cruises of the waterway were made by Tom Rolt in 1947 and 1949, and despite it being officially closed, a number of boats started to use it. There was a growing campaign to reopen it, but it was still designated as one of the 'waterways having insufficient commercial prospects to justify their retention for navigation' under government papers published in 1955 and 1958. It was not until the passing of the Transport Act 1968 that the route was finally designated as a cruiseway, and its future was secured. As leisure use of the canals grew, the route was rebranded as "The Llangollen Canal" in the 1980s, and it has become one of the most popular routes for holidaymakers. Its importance in the history of the British canal system was recognised in 2009, when the 11-mile (18 km) stretch from Gledrid Bridge near Rhoswiel to Horseshoe Falls including Pontcysyllte and Chirk aqueducts was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The original application gained planning permission for the erection of a commercial building (canal boat workshop) at Maestermyn Marina, Welsh Frankton. 1.2 The building is proposed to measure approximately 13.92m in width and 30.47m in depth and will reach a height to the ridge of approximately 6.5m and 4.5m to the eaves. The building is proposed to be finished in insulated goose grey kingspan sheet cladding with one roller shutter door.

The application site is located within the opens countryside to the south west of Welsh Frankton. The site is located to the south of the Shropshire Union Canal with the Whittington Wharf Narrowboats LTD to the east and agricultural land to the south and west.

The proposal seeks permission for the erection of a commercial building for the refurbishment of canal boats. The applicant runs a canal boat hire service called Whittington Wharf Narrowboats which comprises of a yard with buildings used for a shop, office and cleaning facilities, mooring rights for 35 narrowboats but a total of 16 narrowboats are used for the business. Due to the nature of the canal hire business, the majority of customers book the boats out in the summer months and therefore repairs / maintenance is carried out in the winter months. Currently, they are having to lift the narrowboats out of the water using a mobile crane and transport them to the back of the site where they have space to conduct repairs and maintenance which is not under cover from the weather meaning works can only be conducted when the weather permits. Therefore, a new building would enable to bring the boats in from the canal under cover from the weather and get any repairs and maintenance done much quicker and more efficiently.

Policy CS6 ‘Sustainable Design and Development Principles’ of the Shropshire Core Strategy requires development to protect and conserve the built environment and be appropriate in scale, density, pattern and design taking into account the local context and character. This is reiterated in policy MD2 of the SAMDev Plan which indicates the development should contribute and respect the locally distinctive or valued character and existing amenity value.


The building will replace a marquee which has been erected as a temporary measure. The marquee is located to the south of Whittington Wharf Narrowboats, however due to the power lines it would not be possible to erect the proposed building in this location. The building has been proposed to the east of the existing buildings in order to allow easy access to the boats on the canal. It is considered that the proposed unit has been appropriately located adjacent to an existing building whilst being within close proximity to the canal. Subject to the canal being appropriate in colour it is considered that the siting, scale an design are acceptable in this instance.

22/03037/DIS | Discharge of Conditions 3 (Details of works adj to canal) and 4 (External materials) relating to Planning Permisison 21/05525/FUL | Maestermyn Marina Ltd Maestermyn Marina Welsh Frankton Oswestry Shropshire SY11 4NU has been submitted and currently sits with Shropshire County Council for consideration.  En-Plan have also submitted a Full Plans Building Regulations Application for the build detail to Approved Inspectors in Shrewsbury, who will be inspecting the build and providing the all important completion certificate.

If you would like to find out more about how our Planning Consultancy and Architectural Design Services can work in perfect sync to achieve a successful outcome in the planning system please contact us and we will be only too happy to talk through any questions or development proposals you may have.


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