Preston’s premier shopping street is facing another year of upheaval as work resumes on a controversial “shared space” scheme next month.
Contractors will begin extending Fishergate’s new look up to the city’s Minster in the next few weeks, with disruption likely to rumble on into 2016.
Construction will be suspended in December so traders and shoppers can enjoy a trouble-free Christmas.
But the work is certain to mean a return to the disturbance which sparked widespread criticism when it affected the lower part of Fishergate in 2014.
“No start date for the work has been finalised,” explained Phil Wilson, Lancashire County Council’s project manager for City Deal.
“But, following confirmation of when the materials will be delivered, we expect contractors to be on-site in February.
“We are currently reviewing the programme and are looking to have a significant section complete by Christmas 2015. Work on the remaining section will be started after the Christmas shopping period.”
The work is part of the £3.4m Fishergate Central Gateway project, converting the city’s busiest shopping street into a shared space where pedestrians and vehicles have equal priority, with less clutter, more space and no traffic lights.
The first phase of the scheme, from the railway station up to Winckley Street, began last summer and was completed in time for the Christmas rush.
Phase 2a will take the improvements from Winckley Street up the full length of Fishergate to the front of the Minster. And Phase 2b, which is expected to follow on soon afterwards, will complete the job, taking the new surface along Lanncaster Road and round to the front of the soon-to-be restored bus station complex.
County Hall chiefs hope the new-look will help Preston to attract new businesses and investment into the city.
The authority accepts the work is likely to mean yet more disruption for shopkeepers, drivers and pedestrians. But a spokesman said: “Please bear with us as a consistent public space throughout will undoubtedly enhance the city centre.”