blazing paddles! EXCLUSIVE Glasgow's first purpose-built hub for watersports will be built on the banks of the Forth & Clyde Canal

GLASGOW is on course to make waves among canoeists and water sports enthusiasts.

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These are the first images of Scotland's first purpose-built hub for paddle sports, which will be built in the city on the banks of the Forth And Clyde Canal.

The Pinkston Paddlesports Centre will cost £2.2million and has been given planning permission by city planners, who are keen to generate new projects along the waterway.

The scheme is a collaboration involving the city council, British Water- ways Scotland and water- side regeneration agency ISIS and is billed as an important driver in the overall regeneration of the Speirs Locks-Maryhill canal corridor.

The plan is to create a centre for sporting excellence for canoeing that will also be open to communities near the canal.

It will sit at Pinkston Basin, opposite the Diageo plant at Port Dundas.

It is part of a masterplan for sustainable economic development and includes projects that promote tourism and culture, as well as stimulate healthy active living.

Pinkston Paddlesports will have an artificial ski-style slope for canoeists – known technically as an intermediate standard whitewater course – as well as a playwave and canoe polo pitches.

There will also be a five metre-deep diving tank.

There are real hopes it will become one of the country's top attractions for triathlon training, with the ability to stage multi-activity events such as swimming, canoeing, running or cycling.

The hope is it will become a national training centre for elite athletes and a magnet for new talent, as well as a venue for national and regional competitions.

The Royal Life Saving Society is expected to use the centre to promote water safety and life saving skills.

It could also be used by Scotland's eight fire and rescue services for water rescue training.

Police divers are also expected to use the facility for training exercises.

And a generation of Glasgow canoeists could be on the horizon.

The centre aims to work with 350 new paddlers every year and most will be local youngsters aged under 25.

Fundraising was given a boost when the Pinkston Paddlesports was shortlisted for a cash award from the People's Postcode Lottery Dream Fund. The winners will be announced shortly.

Councillor Liz Cameron, Glasgow City Council spokeswoman for development and regeneration, said: "It is great news that this project has been shortlisted for funding and we hope it will be the first of many successful bids for the canal partnership.

"Our canal corridor, after the River Clyde, is Glasgow's other waterfront and its regeneration is a very important project for our city.

"We have already seen a great amount of investment, private and public, along the canal corridor, but this centre will utilise the canal itself.

"We hope the centre will help to bring great opportunities for sport and recreation for the local community and for paddlesports enthusiasts from far and wide.

"This will be of particular interest to Glasgow's young people and will be a great catalyst for change.

"The canal partnership is already developing a sports theme for the canal to provide further opportunities."

Steve Dunlop, director of British Waterways Scotland, said: "Pinkston Paddlesports is a fantastic project that could bring real vitality and energy back to the Forth And Clyde Canal at Port Dundas.

"Working with housing association partners, we are well under way in bringing much-needed sustainable new housing to Maryhill."

Mr Dunlop added: "The flight of locks there looks stunning and the familiar White House on the canal is being transformed into a thriving community space.

"At Speirs Wharf, close to the location for Pinkston Paddlesports, we now have a vibrant cultural neighbourhood.

"It is bustling with students as important national institutions like Scottish Opera, the Royal Conservatoire Of Scotland and, soon, Glasgow Sculpture Studios will locate here."

Richard Millar, the organisation's development manager, said: "For the first time, Scotland will have a whitewater course of national importance.

"The location, so close to the city centre, is ideal and we believe the facilities will be of the level and flexibility required to attract athletes at the top of their profession through to beginners.

"Pinkston Paddlesports will be nationally important but will also be a much needed resource for communities and encourage an active, healthy lifestyle."

gordon.thomson@ eveningtimes.co.uk

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