Lancashire’s business community has embraced the newly-launched City Deal, worth more than £430m to the area.
Former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine joined leading figures to officially launch the project, which will generate thousands of homes and jobs over the next decade.
Leaders gathered at County Hall to hear the far-reaching City Deal plans, and how “proud Preston will become the pride of Lancashire”.
Edwin Booth, chairman of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, explained how the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal will work, and what it will achieve. Over 10 years, it is expected to generate more than 20,000 new jobs and more than 17,000 new homes.
It will also boost the local economy by almost £1bn, and attract £2.3bn in leveraged commercial investment.
Mr Booth said: “It is important to emphasise that our City Deal is not just about new roads.
“In fact it is not even just about new houses and jobs.
“It’s about ensuring that all infrastructure, that is the facilities and services which turn places into communities, the schools, the open space, the health facilities, the energy systems, are provided alongside the economic and housing growth.
“The City Deal provides a unique opportunity to plan carefully for this growth, and that work starts now.”
He added: “Preston and South Ribble have the potential to grow a challenger city to their peers in the north.
“Proud Preston will become the pride of Lancashire.”
Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, described the deal as a “once in a generation opportunity”.
She said: “This is going to achieve a far-reaching impact for the area’s fortunes for many years to come.
“The City Deal provides a once in a generation opportunity for the local authorities and local businesses to work together to ensure that decisions affecting local economic growth can be dealt with locally by the people who know the area best.”