Plans to restore the Wilts & Berks Canal through Melksham have been met with support from those hoping it will give the local economy a boost.

The partnership bidding to restore the former canal through Wiltshire wants to prioritise the 3.5km Melksham link at a cost of up to £10million, and is hoping to apply for planning permission to do so this year.

The Melksham link will start at the Kennet & Avon Canal in Semington, run past the Berryfield estate and join the River Avon in Melksham before heading north towards Lacock.

However, if plans are agreed then Berryfield will be transformed the most, with the community hall and play facilities moved to make way for the canal.

Gillian Arbery, secretary of the Berryfield and Semington Road Action Group, said in her opinion the canal could boost the Berryfield area, but that residents would want to know about the future of their community hall.

She said: “I think it could be a great opportunity for Berryfield after looking at places like Devizes and seeing how the canal there has regenerated the area and brought in a lot of tourism.

“I think it could be a very good thing for Melksham as a whole too.” Mrs Arbery said concerns would arise, however, over the future of the Berryfield community hall, which sits on land the proposed canal would pass over.

She said a committee within the action group had put in outline planning permission for a new hall recently, but they would need to consult with the canal partnership, that includes Wiltshire Council, to see what the future held.

She said: “The hall is used by the homework club twice a week, by a toddler group and art group among other things.

“Where the hall is at the moment, on land adjacent to the play park, is ideal and we would need a lot of persuasion to move it.

“However, I can also see advantages in moving it if we were to be moved to a better site with its own parking for instance.”

Sue Oldknow, from the Waney Edge Café in Semington Road, said the proposed canal route goes right behind the café, which she has owned for around five years.

She said: “We are all for the canal. I have met the people in charge of the project and I really like what I have heard.

“It will look nice and very picturesque as well as bringing business into the area.”

Dave Bentley, landlord of the New Inn pub in Semington Road, also embraced the plans, which he said would increase the character of the area and look nice, but would also hopefully increase his trade.

Funding for project through Wiltshire will come from opportunities for canalside development and grants which the partnership will also apply for.