It is perhaps unusual to write a conservation area character appraisal on behalf of a significant landowner rather than for the local planning authority. However, the Scottish Government's Planning Advice Note (PAN) 71 states that where an appraisal does not exist, it can be carried out independently 'in order to improve the decision making process.' Indeed, as the major landowner in the Crinan Canal Conservation Area, Scottish Canals considered a character appraisal as being a key step in informing both their management and the potential future development of the canal.
The Crinan Canal has been called the most beautiful shortcut in the world, and extends 9 miles connecting Loch Fyne with Loch Crinan. Although short in length, it avoids the long journey around the Kintyre peninsula. The canal opened in July 1801, however it was beset with problems: a section of the canal bank failed in 1805 and a major flood closed the canal again in 1811. Thomas Telford was engaged by the Treasury in 1812 and the improved canal opened in 1817. A major boost to the canal's popularity with the public was when Queen Victoria passed through the canal in 1847. Since then, the canal has continued to prove popular with tourists, with continued use by commercial vessels.
Whilst the existing boundary of the conservation area only covers the northern half of the canal, the appraisal looked at the full length of the canal, with a focus on the four key canal-side communities of Ardrishaig, Cairnbaan, Bellanoch, and Crinan.
Scottish Canals - Crinan Canal