Multi-million pound buy-up is on for major new road project for Preston

A multi-million pound buy-up has begun to create one of Lancashire's biggest new road projects.

Friday, 23rd February 2018, 7:18 am
Updated Friday, 23rd February 2018, 8:25 am
Plans will see the new 4.3km link road to the west of Preston connecting the A583 Preston to Blackpool Road at Lea with a new Junction 2 on the M55. There will also be a 3.4km long East-West link road connecting to Lightfoot Lane, and Cottam Link Road linking to Cottam Way.

The massive buy-up of 375 parcels of land in Lea and Cottam will pave the way for the £189.45m M55 link project project.

It will see the new 4.3km link road to the west of Preston connecting the A583 Preston to Blackpool Road at Lea with a new Junction 2 on the M55.

There will also be a 3.4km long East-West link road connecting to Lightfoot Lane, and Cottam Link Road linking to Cottam Way.

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The land being bought up is mostly agricultural, but also includes part of the playground and beer garden at the Saddle Inn in Lea.

Although no houses will be demolished for the scheme three gardens are affected and certain public highways will also be needed to make way for plans.

Rick Bailey, chief executive officer of Thwaites which owns the Saddle Inn, said: “While we are supportive of the new road, we are extremely concerned about the detailed plans and the detrimental impact it will have on the Saddle Inn – its outside area is one of the pub’s great features and any loss to it is likely to be to the detriment of its future.”

City bosses say the major road project, by far the largest transport project in the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal, will ease congestion.

They also say that it will deliver great bang for its buck, reaping £2.29 in benefits for every pound invested in its delivery.

County councillor Geoff Driver CBE, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “This scheme will create three new roads on the western side of Preston, from the M55 towards Blackpool Road and Riversway. This will benefit residents and businesses not just in the local area, but across Preston, South Ribble, large parts of the Fylde coast, and further afield.

“We’re already talking with landowners to see if they will agree to sell or grant us the necessary rights by agreement. This is an important stage in the process as we can only begin construction once we have the land we need.

“A new M55 junction will reduce congestion by creating more capacity on the network, in particular at Broughton roundabout at Junction 1 of the M55 and on the local roads around it. It will also improve access on the west side of Preston, so that people don’t need to use narrow country lanes. These roads will also support new housing and business development in the area. There will be opportunities for new bus priority measures, improvements to local public spaces and initiatives to encourage walking and cycling.

“There are many important stages to go through when building any road, which takes time to carry out. Making these orders and getting confirmation from the Secretary of State will help us to keep our plans moving along.”

Business chiefs say it has the potential to boost the local economy by £144m over the 60-year evaluation period, principally through unlocked development.

Graham Cowley, chairman of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Growth Deal Management Board, says the project will unleash huge potential for benefits for the economy in the area.

He said: “Improved connectivity and better transport infrastructure is a key priority for the LEP and the government’s Northern Powerhouse programme, and this scheme will help to unlock massive economic potential throughout central Lancashire.

“Such transformational project, which can spark growth, create jobs and kick-start new investment opportunities, are also exactly what the Local Growth Deal Fund is designed to facilitate. This is why the LEP has granted conditional approval for £58m of funding towards the Preston dual carriageway element of the scheme, allowing this package of proposals to move forward.”

But pub owners whose customers will have to put up with the drone of traffic going by their beer gardens say that the scheme is going to have an adverse affect on businesses.

The licensee of the Sitting Goose pub, who did not give his name, said: “It is actually going to hit us very hard. The roadworks are going to hem the pub in completely – to the front, to the back and to the side and even if there’s a way in to the pub customers won’t come, they’ll go to another place.”

Deputy Mayor for Preston and councillor Trevor Michael Hart, who represents residents in Lea, said: “On the whole residents are supporting the plans for the roads on the basis that it relieves all the congestion with the new developments which is causing chaos. If the congestion of the traffic is not going to be released in some way it’s going to be a nightmare.”

One of the three roads to be created will give better access for Preston Grasshoppers RFC to Tabley Lane, Sandy Lane and the new dual carriageway.

General manager of the club Richard Ellis said: “We broadly welcome the new road, any improvement to the infrastructure locally is of benefit.

“Visitors to the club can currently suffer delays getting here and this can be off putting and frustrating.

“We are ideally positioned within the new housing developments, our facilities are available to everyone and we consider ourselves as a community asset. The new road will open access to us from all the new developments.”

It will be mainly agricultural land which will be dug up to build the link road, with other earmarked parcels of land which include ponds, footpaths and overhead electricity lines.

As part of the plans there will be changes to the existing highway network and two bridge schemes, as the new road will cross the Lancaster Canal and the Millennium Ribble Link.

A new parkway rail station is planned on the Preston-Blackpool line at Cottam, which will take its access from this road scheme.

Together with other major road investment in the area, this scheme will allow for bus priority measures, public realm enhancements and cycling and walking provision on existing routes.

Only once each of the parcels of land, which do not include any homes, are in the county council’s hands will it begin laying the new road.

The total estimated cost of the three roads in this scheme is £189.45m, which will be met from a combination of public and private sector funds. This would include £58m of Lancashire’s Local Growth Fund which would specifically support the new dual carriageway to the west of Preston.

If work for the scheme goes ahead as planned construction could start by the end of 2019.

Highways England will provide £25m towards the cost of a new motorway junction and there will also be contributions secured from new housing developments across the area. Planning permission was granted for the construction of the scheme and the associated ecological mitigation measures on October 4, 2017.