Lancashire town set for £1m makeover

NEW LOOK: The centre of Bamber Bridge
NEW LOOK: The centre of Bamber Bridge
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Tree-lined shopping street will be ‘exciting step forward’.

Plans for a multi-million pound rejuvenation to breathe life into Bamber Bridge town centre have been unveiled.

A tree-lined main shopping street, improved lighting and better public transport links are among the ideas being floated, and Station Road from the entrance of Fourfields to Mounsey Road would be made more pedestrian-friendly with wider footpaths, more bus stops and better street furniture.

All ideas have been based on suggestions from from residents and businesses, but if South Ribble Council’s cabinet approves the report next week, it could then go out to a four-week public consultation.

Exact costings would be worked out during the production of more detailed plans, but the cashpot, boosted by City Deal cash, has been confirmed in excess of £1m – and the Evening Post has learnt this figure could rise to £2.75m.

Coun Phil Smith, South Ribble Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for Regeneration, Leisure and Healthy Communities, said: “This is an exciting step forward for our ambitions for Bamber Bridge. These initial ideas should provide an excellent starting point to build on the successful regeneration schemes we’ve already carried out in South Ribble, and complement the others in the pipeline, such as those in Penwortham and Longton.

“These proposals fit with the way we want to manage the co-ordinated growth of our borough. We want to support businesses and maintain thriving town and village centres, and working with partners like Lancashire County Council on the City Deal will make us much greater than the sum of our parts; enabling us to bring about improvements sooner, while delivering far better value for money for our communities.

“I’m now looking forward to hearing the public’s views.”

Ward Coun Paul Foster said: “This is a genuinely brilliant opportunity for Bamber Bridge.

“We as borough councillors have wanted to make improvements for a while, but we’ve always been constrained by the money available to us.

“But now the City Deal money has come along and what would have been a smaller scheme taking two to three years can now be one of the biggest things to happen to Bamber Bridge in the past 10 years.

“The City Deal has promised an awful lot, but unlike some other big ideas it looks like this is potentially delivering fantastic improvements for the people affected most.”

The work would be funded by South Ribble Borough Council’s capital programme and a share of the £434m Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal, which is a government-backed programme aimed at improving local transport routes, helping deliver new jobs and housing over a 10-year period.

The Bamber Bridge improvement work is not being modelled on the Fishergate scheme in Preston city centre in terms of shared spaces and dropped kerbs, but there would be similarities with wider footpaths, street furniture and trees.

Coun Foster said residents would like to see aspects of Bamber Bridge’s industrial heritage incorporated, and done to a high standard.

He added: “It’s overwhelmingly great news for the area, and I hope that if it all goes ahead that we can have a district centre that people in Bamber Bridge use themselves.

“At the moment people go to the Capitol Centre or into Preston, so I would like more footfall from people living in Bamber Bridge but also maybe from places like Lostock Hall.

“I would like to see more coffee shops and businesses coming in on the back of this investment.”

Allan Antonio, owner of Allan’s Barbers in Station Road, said: “Anything to improve Station Road, I’d welcome 100 per cent.

“At the moment feels run down and nothing’s happening, so this would be a very welcome boost for all the businesses along here.”

A spokesman for Flowers By Louise, a florist in Station Road, said: “It’s the first I’ve heard of it and I suppose that any investment that will increase footfall is welcome, but I do have my concerns about disruptions while they do it, and whether new railings or bollards might go up in front of my shop.”

County Coun John Fillis, Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “The investment we are putting into South Ribble offers a tremendous opportunity to create more space along some of our busiest urban roads for buses, cyclists and pedestrians.

“Where these roads run through district and local centres we can transform these public spaces to make them far more attractive to visitors to our local high streets and encourage more sustainable travel.

“These initial ideas for Bamber Bridge represent the first of a number of transport corridors and local centres across South Ribble and Preston that will benefit under improvement plans to be drawn up over the next year.”

The cabinet meeting will take place next Wednesday at 5pm at the Civic Centre in Leyland.