The biggest road-building project in Lancashire for generations has been given the green light.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has handed a ‘City Deal’ to hand over millions of pounds of cash and power to the Preston area to get the work underway.
City leaders have promised the cash will be used to unlock jammed roads, creating 23,000 new jobs, 15,000 new homes and pumping £1bn into Lancashire’s economy over the next decade.
Now the final details of the agreement will be thrashed out with Whitehall tsars, before work begins on projects including a new link road off the M55 to the Enterprise Zone at Warton and completing the Penwortham bypass.
Mr Clegg said: “These deals help cities and their wider areas make once in a generation changes that will be felt by everyone across their region.”
Lancashire County Council leader Geoff Driver confirmed the cash and power handed down as part of the bid would allow it to press ahead with plans unveiled in its Highways Masterplan.
The plan, which is currently being consulted on across the county, also includes proposals to create a new train station at Cottam in Preston, and will create the infrastructure to get work underway on thousands of new homes in north west Preston.
County Coun Driver said: “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.”
Preston Council leader Peter Rankin urged the “shackles to be unleashed” on the city’s growth ambitions to grow the local economy.
He said: “Preston has a proven track record to thrive and deliver major economic growth.”