The pump house, a listed building, opened in 1817 and was originally operated by steam engine. It is presently home to four powerful electric pumps which between them provide the water to operate the Grand Union canal between London and Birmingham.
Mr Whyatt, Regional Operations Manager for BW, came to the April Parish Council meeting to explain the proposals in advance of a formal planning application being submitted. He explained the strategic importance of the building to the canal network – which could not operate without it. Locally BW have more buildings than they need for today’s operations, and this has led to the closure of the depots at Marsworth and Bulbourne. At both of these sites there are development opportunities so BW plans to sell them.
The large building of the Tringford pumping station is under used and somewhat dilapidated. As it is essential to the canal network, it makes sense to make better use of it, he said, and its listed building status could attract money for much needed refurbishments which BW otherwise could not find.
The proposal is to make internal changes to provide space for eight desks, a messroom and toilets. The operations team of twelve people who are responsible for the canal from Rickmansworth to Stoke Bruene would have this as their base, though most of their work is out and about on the canal, and they would not be there every day. Materials would not be stored there and no new buildings were needed, but the yard would be improved for parking.
Access along the private lane by Manor Farm was not ideal, Mr Whyatt explained, so a separate proposal to build a new access track is also being drawn up. This would run north from the pumping station to join the Little Tring Road, and a traffic survey was currently underway to provide the necessary information. (I had wondered what the traffic counters on the road were for. Ed.)
Plans are being drawn up now with applications likely to be submitted in June or July. If all goes well, the team could move in during 2011. Residents, and the Parish Council, will have their chance to give their views once the plans are published. Worth looking out for.