The Liverpool Canal Link is a regeneration project to connect the end of Liverpool to Leeds Canal with the south docks in Liverpool. ; The Liverpool Canal Link is a regeneration project to connect the end of Liverpool to Leeds Canal with the south docks in Liverpool. ;

Liverpool Canal Link, Liverpool

New 1.4mi stretch, allowing barges direct access to Liverpool city centre

The Liverpool Canal Link is an multi-award-winning scheme, extending the Leeds and Liverpool Canal to Liverpool city centre. It has enhanced a World Heritage Site and created new facilities for visitors and locals alike.

The project has achieved British Waterways’ aim to reinvigorate Liverpool’s South Docks as a tourism and leisure destination. Previously, the canal terminated two miles short of the city centre, was degraded and viewed as unappealing by local people.

Environmental works over the last 20 years yielded visual improvement but failed to attract people to use the corridor. The new canal link creates an amazing experience for boaters as they navigate Liverpool’s historic waterfront.

Bookings have exceeded British Waterways’ expectations, attracting an estimated 4,500 boat trips, 200,000 extra visitors and boosting the Liverpool economy by £1.9m annually.

A public space at Pier Head is used for free events - since opening over 82,000 people have attended events hosted by the city.

The Liverpool Canal Link success stems from the collaboration between the public bodies and private companies involved. Arup worked as principal designer with two clients, four land owners and three contractors to deliver this exceptional project.


The new canal consists of open channels, culverts, basins and locks. At the north there is a new channel built through an infilled dock with a new highway bridge over the canal. Further south, a culvert provides access to Princes Dock and maintains highway access to the surrounding area.

Within Princes Dock, a landmark footbridge had to be raised to allow navigational clearance. This required a delicate lifting operation. Once raised, major works were undertaken to the adjacent public spaces. The new Princes Dock Lock provides access to the 140m culverted section leading to Pier Head.

At Pier Head there are two culverts and two basins that create a great relationship with the new public space. South of Pier Head, the Mann Island Basin provides manoeuvring room to enter the Mann Island Lock and access to Canning Dock.

3D modelling

The complex geometry of the new concrete structures and the requirement for high quality granite finishes within the World Heritage Site required the use of 3D modelling software to understand and coordinate designs, check for buildability and achieve accurate construction.

Arup provided the granite supplier with a 3D model that allowed an accurate cutting schedule to be produced, minimising waste.

The 3D models also assisted the construction teams, allowing fabricators and installers to determine construction sequences with ease.