A multi-million pound scheme to create a marina for canal boats near Rowde has been granted permission by Wiltshire Council.

The council’s eastern area planning committee unanimously approved the plan by MHJ Ltd, a holding company for Land and Water Estates, of Guildford.

The marina, at Lower Foxhangers Farm, will have 248 berths and will be situated next to the existing small marina, campsite and self catering homes run by Colin and Cynthia Fletcher that will continue to operate.

Neil Warren of Land and Water Estates said: “The new marina will benefit the Kennet and Avon Canal from Caen Hill to Bath including the villages on the way including Rowde.”

Mr Warren spotted the site at Foxhangers when he rowed the length of the Kennet and Avon Canal in 2003 to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital in London following open heart surgery on his eight month old daughter Alicia.

He said: “The row really gave me a good feel for the canal and I thought the site would be ideal for a marina. Other people had been interested in developing a marina at the site so it took some time before we became involved.”

Mr Warren hopes building work will start in spring next year with the marina opening later in 2011. A new entrance to Lower Foxhangers will be created east of the existing one on the A361 to improve visibility.

Mike Rodd, general manager of the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust, said: “There’s a demand for marina based boats on the canal. The Kennet and Avon is one of Wiltshire’s prime attractions and it’s of great economic benefit to this area.”