THE historic Forth and Clyde Canal in the north of Glasgow could be transformed into a permanent base for houseboats.

Scottish Canals has applied to the city council for permission to create 26 residential moorings, 12 floating pontoons, 75 hook-up points for temporary moorings, three pedestrian bridges, activity and meeting spaces and artwork at Firhill Basin behind the football stadium.

It is part of a wider vision for the area which could result in a new permanent watersports pavilion, new housing on the north side of the canal and a mixed used development on Firhill Road.

A report to city planners says the Glasgow branch of the Forth and Clyde Canal has great potential to connect communities on either side.

Woodside, Firhill and Hamiltonhill, which are describes as disconnected and disadvantaged, persistently lie in the top 15% most deprived areas in Scotland and have some of the worst health statistics in the country. They include large areas that are either vacant or derelict including significant areas of greenspace.

As a result, the Applecross-Firhill area is one of four areas for targeted action in the recently launched Canal Action Plan.

In May 2016, the Hamiltonhill Claypits, which run alongside the canal from Applecross Basin to Firhill Basin, were designated as a local nature reserve.

But it is suffering from misuse, resulting in litter, overgrown paths and a number of areas being impossible to reach. The vision includes transforming a large area of underused canal side greenspace into a significant nature park.

This will be achieved through a new network of paths, a new pedestrian bridge and a ‘living on water’ facility at Firhill.

The report says: “The development will create a valuable semi-wild greenspace near the city centre.

“It will serve existing and future local communities as well as act as significant greenspace for the wider city region. It will create a well connected, attractive and educational resource which forms part of a wider initiative to create a vibrant neighbourhood in North Glasgow for people to live work and play.

“The principal purpose of the canal is a transportation corridor but changes in industrial practices over the years have led to a declining requirement for the canal to support transport of industrial cargo and goods.

“However, the canal now plays an increasingly important role in the recreational and social use of the canal as a destination for tourism and a residential location for those who reside in house boats.

“The Firhill basin provides opportune space in which to develop a permanent living on water community while maintaining regular day to day use.”

The Forth and Clyde Canal is designated a scheduled monument, reflecting its national importance as a key monument of Scotland’s industrial past.