Ambitious plans for a new canal between Shipley and Bradford have been given a cautious welcome by members of the construction industry.

More than 250 developers and architects listened to a presentation on the project during Bradford Chamber's construction lunch at the Cedar Court Hotel.

Mike Osbourne, project director for Arup consultants, who drew up a feasibility study into the canal scheme, told the audience the project needed strong leadership.

He said Bradford had a unique opportunity to create a "brand new landscape feature" which could provide massive opportunities for new homes, businesses and education schemes.

Mr Osbourne also suggested that engineering work to "slide in" a bridge so the railway can pass over the canal in Dockfield Road, Shipley, should be carried out in December 2007.

"The Airedale line will be closed for 54 hours for work to be carried out on bridges in Keighley and Crossflatts, so that would be the ideal time to carry out the work at Dockfield Road," he said.

After the presentation, many of the audience said the plans were exciting and could stimulate regeneration.

But others were more cautious and questioned where funding would come from.

Alec Newsham, chairman and co-founder of Newmason Properties, said he was confident the proposals could become a reality.

He said: "The canal will be good for both Bradford and Leeds and we see Shipley as a crucial part of that. We will continue developing in the Shipley Bradford Airedale corridor."

Mr Osbourne said the various regeneration plans could lead to £5 billion being invested in the district in the next ten years £2 billion in the city centre, £2 billion in Airedale and £1 billion in the canal project.

He said the five kilometre stretch of canal would transform Bradford and Shipley.