BOAT owners have been warned that parts of Diglis Basin will be emptied for up to a year during building work.

A total of 421 homes are being created around the historic moorings with contractors likely to start in the spring or early summer.

But British Waterways said about 50 boats moored in the inner basin will have to be moved while it is "dewatered" as part of the scheme's first phase.

A boaters' group at Diglis said it was unlikely the move would provoke opposition and they were confident alternative positions will be found.

"The basin may need to remain dewatered and/or vacant for up to 12 months, although we hope it will be possible to make this considerably shorter," said Central Shires Waterways service manager Jon Oakes.

"The walls around the basin have been identified as needing remedial work and we're taking this opportunity to carry it out at the same time."

Letters have been sent to boat owners for their views on possible alternative moorings.

Mr Oakes said some might choose to leave and find new locations but hoped all could be kept in the city.

Paul Hooper, secretary of boaters' representative group Diglis Forum, said the basin was dewatered between 12 and 15 years ago without complaint.

"It's pretty safe to say it won't be as controversial as it sounds," said Mr Hooper.

"It only applies to the inner basin and I say, without a shadow of a doubt, British Waterways will find moorings for all the boaters.

"There might be one or two people who perhaps aren't happy but it won't be a case of having to leave or being turned off the pitch."

As well as the dewatering, the scheme's first phase will see apartments built on the southern and eastern sides of the basin, the refurbishment of the Danks buildings and Stablemasters House and improvements to the inner basin.

It should be completed by the end of 2006 with the second and final phase, concentrating on brownfield areas, finished by 2010.