/ News / New transport plans to boost growth

TRANSPORT for Lancashire has announced a package of road and rail improvements to boost economic growth over the next decade.

The newly-formed local transport body will bring together public and private sector investment to build the infrastructure needed to help businesses create jobs, and allow people to access them.

Three transport authorities, Lancashire County Council, Blackpool Council and Blackburn with Darwen Council, have joined forces with the private sector led Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to create Transport for Lancashire (TfL) to develop, approve and fund major transport schemes with a multi-million budget to be devolved by the Department for Transport (DfT) from 2015/16.

Transport for Lancashire is a committee of the LEP at which the leaders of each council meet with the LEP chairman and vice-chairman to ensure future transport schemes support economic development.

TfL today outlined six schemes to be delivered by 2024/25 based on forecast funding allocations from the DfT, developer contributions, and the recently signed Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal which will see millions unlocked to develop housing, create new jobs and improve transport infrastructure.

In Lancashire:

£58m towards the estimated £90m total construction cost of a new road linking the M55 near Bartle with the A583 near Clifton to support development of new housing in North West Preston and improve links to the Enterprise Zone site at Warton. This scheme forms part of the City Deal.

£15.1m towards the estimated £23.7m total construction cost of delivering the A6 Broughton Bypass, a new road to ease congestion on one of the main routes into north Preston, supporting housing and business development in one of the key areas for growth identified by the LEP. This is also part of the City Deal.

£2.8m towards the estimated £3.2m total cost of vital maintenance to the Centenary Way viaduct which carries the principal A682 road through the centre of Burnley.

In Blackpool:

£16.4m towards the estimated £18.2m total cost of improving access to the national rail network from Blackpool, Fleetwood and Cleveleys, by extending the new tramway from the Promenade at North Pier to Blackpool North railway station.

In Blackburn with Darwen:

£12.4m towards the estimated £13.8m total cost of a scheme to improve the standard and frequency of trains operating between Blackburn and Manchester by doubling parts of the track between Bolton and Blackburn.

£1.8m towards the estimated £2m total cost of a scheme to cut congestion and support the Haslingden Road, Walker Park, Roman Road and Shadsworth industrial estates. Includes widening Haslingden Road, adding traffic lights at junctions and upgrading mini roundabouts.

In agreeing the top six priorities, Transport for Lancashire considered a total of 24 candidate schemes. Independent consultants were employed to assess them, dividing them into four blocks based on their contribution to the economy, environmental and social impacts, likely value for money, and deliverability.

Further schemes will form a development pool. One of these schemes, to complete the A59 Penwortham Bypass between Broad Oak roundabout and Howick Cross, is a critical part of the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal and will now come forward as a priority under the wider City Deal funding arrangements.

The further five schemes in the development pool, which will be brought forward should circumstances change or further funding opportunities emerge, are:

In Lancashire:

Construction of a new single carriageway road from the A6068 Vivary Way in Colne to the A56 north of Foulridge.

Major programme of maintenance works for the Greyhound Bridge in Lancaster, to include replacement of joints, resurfacing, waterproofing and concrete repair.

In Blackpool:

Major maintenance to bring back into good condition a number of bridges which are in poor condition and unable to carry heavy loads.

A major maintenance scheme to Yeadon Way, which connects the M55 motorway with the extensive car parking areas in Blackpool town centre and is of critical importance to the resort’s economy. Significant repairs are needed to bridges, embankments and the road structure.

In Blackburn:

Upgrade to M65 Junction 4 at Earcroft to introduce traffic signals and ensure traffic can exit the M65 without excessive queuing. Associated improvements would be made to access into the Chapels area to support Blackburn with Darwen Council’s housing and economic development plans for Darwen.

Further investigative work will be carried out on all of the schemes initially considered for the investment programme and where appropriate these will be taken into account as part of the county council’s highways and transport master planning exercise.

The priority schemes have now been submitted to the Department for Transport while the councils do further work to prepare the business cases to fund them.

Each scheme will have to undergo full appraisal and demonstrate that it will achieve value for money in order to eventually receive funding.

Edwin Booth, chairman of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: “The improvements to transport infrastructure we’ve agreed today are critical to ensure our plans to create jobs and foster economic growth become a reality.

“Preston has enormous potential as a focal point for economic growth, but this bid is on a vast scale and it is not just the city itself but the whole of Lancashire that stands to benefit. It also complements our existing programmes for job creation and apprenticeships.

“The City Deal will form the basis for large scale investment in transport and housing, and provide the ideal conditions for companies to invest and create employment.

“As a committee of the LEP, Transport for Lancashire will allow the private and public sectors to speak with one voice to ensure we get the best possible deal.”

County Councillor Jennifer Mein, leader of Lancashire County Council and chair of Transport for Lancashire, said: “There is huge potential for economic growth in Lancashire, particularly in the areas of the county which the priority schemes we’ve announced today will help to unlock.

“Better transport will allow the jobs which are created to be accessed by people across the whole county, and the wider economic benefits will be felt by everyone. We’ll now be working hard to ensure the business case to support the funding and delivery of these schemes is as strong as it can be.

“As a county council, we are also working hard on producing transport master plans for the whole of Lancashire, which will make sure we have the right infrastructure to support growth.”

Councillor Maureen Bateson, executive member for regeneration at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, and member of the Transport for Lancashire committee, said: “Today’s announcements mean welcome capital investment in Blackburn with Darwen’s transport infrastructure in support of jobs and communities.

“The two schemes, Clitheroe, Blackburn, Manchester rail corridor improvements and Haslingden Road corridor improvements will improve capacity on our rail and road systems and will bring real benefit to local people and businesses.

“Additionally, these announcements signal new ways of working with partners to bring greater financial benefits and real decision-making powers back to local people in Lancashire which is to be welcomed.”

Cllr John Jones, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “This announcement is tremendous news for Blackpool.

“Extending the tramway to Blackpool North Train Station to create a fully integrated transport system, extending right into the heart of Blackpool town centre, would be a very welcome step forward for residents and tourists alike.

“This is also tremendous news, more widely, for the whole of the Fylde coast and Lancashire and means jobs and an improved infrastructure to support economic growth.”

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