The shape of Preston and South Ribble is set to change forever following a deal to invest almost half a billion pounds into the area. SARAH FIELDEN looks at the impact it will have on the area.
It’s being hailed as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Over the next decade, the historic City Deal aims to generate more than 20,000 new jobs – including 5,000 in the Lancashire Enterprise Zone – 17,420 new homes and nearly £1bn in economic growth.
The Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire deal is worth £450m in funds for new projects across the area, and now detailed draft plans have been released showing how and where the money will be spent.
A draft breakdown of major roads to be constructed and houses to be built has been published, as proposals were rubber stamped by the cabinets of Lancashire County Council, Preston Council and South Ribble Council.
Lancashire County Council leader Coun Jennifer Mein described the deal as a “once-in-a-generation opportunity”.
She said: “It is great news for the whole county that we are now moving into the delivery stage of the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal.
“Since the deal was agreed with central government last year, we have been working very hard with our partners to draw up detailed plans, and robust governance arrangements, for these major infrastructure projects.
“We are determined to make the most of this once-in-a-generation opportunity that will enable Lancashire as a whole to reach its full economic potential.
“Through the City Deal we have the certainty to plan for the future on a grand scale, and we will work tirelessly to ensure that we create the ideal conditions for companies to invest and create employment.”
Peter Rankin, leader of Preston Council, described the City Deal as the “real deal”.
He said: “We’ve now set out exactly when and how over £400m of the City Deal will be delivered.
“Over the next eight to 10 years, the City Deal will deliver over 20,000 new jobs and add over £1bn to the local economy.
“We’re talking over 17,000 new homes, four new roads, a new motorway junction, improved public transport links, new schools, health centres and parks and open spaces.
“I’ve said before that City Deal is the real deal.
“It will transform Preston from a provincial city to one of northern England’s most important investment and development centres.
“It’s time to unlock Preston’s true potential, and the City Deal will do exactly that.”
The City Deal partners are the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Lancashire County Council, Preston Council, South Ribble Council, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and Central Government.
Edwin Booth, chairman of Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: “The successful City Deal is proof both of our ambition for Lancashire, and central government’s confidence in our ability to deliver.
“We can now get on with building the infrastructure that Preston needs, which will allow economic growth in the city and the surrounding area to take off, and continue to create the prosperity and jobs we need.
“Taken with the new Enterprise Zone, the roll-out of high-speed fibre broadband and our recently submitted Growth Plan for Lancashire, these are exciting times for the county’s economy.”
Coun Margaret Smith, leader of South Ribble Council, said: “South Ribble is a thriving borough at the heart of a prosperous central Lancashire, and this backing from the Government shows it’s independently recognised as one of the strongest local economies in the country.
“The deal represents a huge commitment for us, and it has real potential to bring to fruition some major community facilities for our residents, alongside the larger infrastructure projects.
“Many of the proposals have been in the pipeline for decades, and the City Deal will act as a real catalyst to push them forward to benefit the residents of South Ribble.”
For a full breakdown of planned housing development sites and major road improvements see today’s Lancashire Evening Post.