Frustration mounting over Leyland Loop delay

Concerns have been expressed over the future of the delayed 12-mile Leyland Loop cycling route.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 8th November 2016, 5:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 5:15 pm
County councillors Matthew Tomlinson and John Fillis have announced that half a million pounds is pledged to start work on the Leyland Loop cycling and exercise trail
County councillors Matthew Tomlinson and John Fillis have announced that half a million pounds is pledged to start work on the Leyland Loop cycling and exercise trail

Reassurances were sought that the scheme is still on track.

Borough and county councillor Matthew Tomlinson said he had seen an email “from a senior officer” at South Ribble Council to Lancashire County Council claiming the authority was “too busy” to progress the scheme and that it was “no longer a priority”.

Councillor Tomlinson said: “I’ve been increasingly frustrated over the last few months about the lack of progress with this project and hopefully I’ve now made my views clear at both county council and South Ribble level.

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“I’m more reassured now that the cabinet member for regeneration and leisure has confirmed the Demonstrator Section will be completed by South Ribble Borough Council in Spring next year.

“In the meantime, I will be working hard with the county council to make sure improvements to road crossings go ahead as and when we said they would.”

The trail, also known as the Community Health Loop, is a concept proposed by councillor Tomlinson, through the Leyland Cycling Forum, to link up areas of green space around the town.

Schools, parks, shops and other amenities will also be linked up to the loop over time, which hopes to attract walkers, joggers and families too.

Natural play areas, exercise equipment, trim trails, public art and community maps and notice boards are also part of the ambitious plans.

Lancashire County Council agreed to invest £565,000 to complete the first three significant sections of the route, totalling eight miles.

The demonstrator, or pilot, section of the route runs from Worden Park to Earnshaw Bridge.

It will include enhanced shared surface pathways, interpretation panels, exercise equipment, a natural play area, seating, bins, community maps and amenity signs, and public art.

As part of the scheme, road crossings are being improved.

Councillor Phil Smith, South Ribble Borough Council cabinet member with responsibility for regeneration and Leisure, said: “Work is scheduled to start on the demonstrator section of the Community Health Loop this coming spring. We’re really excited about the project, which will open up green space not just for cyclists, but for walkers, joggers and families too.

“Unfortunately there have been some unavoidable delays to starting the project – through no fault of the council – including flooding issues, uncertainty over funding at county level and personnel changes, but residents can rest assured we are working on bringing this plan forward.”

Andrew Mullaney, Lancashire County Council head of planning and environment, said: “This project is a partnership between Lancashire County Council, South Ribble Borough Council, Chorley Borough Council and the Cuerden Valley Park Trust, as the four organisations which own most of the land needed for the route.

“We’re currently working with the South Ribble Borough Council to deliver improvements on land owned by them which, even as standalone projects, will create better traffic free links between residential areas, shops and services.

“We are also improving the points where the route crosses our highway, so that people can safely cross some busy roads.

“We have already provided crossings on Langdale Road and Longmeanygate, and improved a section of path near Dawson Lane.

“Another busy crossing on Slater Lane is due to be started this Spring and we’re currently working to schedule further elements of the scheme which could be progressed during the current financial year.”