Residents on a “road to nowhere” are furious their leafy lane will be blocked off for nine months.
Homeowners on a rural section of Lightfoot Lane in Fulwood say they only found out by chance that highways bosses will be stopping up the end of their road to traffic – and also pedestrians.
“It’s disgusting,” said 86-year-old Jean Fisher, who has lived in the lane for more than 60 years. “Surely they could have sent us a letter at the very least.”
Major work associated with a new housing development on fields to the north of Lightfoot Lane was scheduled to begin a week on Sunday.
The County Council issued a “temporary” traffic order this month banning people using a short stretch of the old Lightfoot Lane from its junction with Tom Benson Way for 12 months from October 1.
The authority even set up a diversion, which would take everyone almost a mile to avoid a 20-metre blockage.
I’m told an email saying it would shut on October 1 should not have gone out. It slipped through the net.
But after residents and a local city councillor reacted with fury at the closure plans, highways chiefs announced last night the project has been put back until January.
“Basically they have dropped a clanger – and caused a lot of unnecessary distress,” stormed Coun Christine Abram, who represents Lea Ward on the city council.
“I’m told an email saying it would shut on October 1 should not have gone out. It slipped through the net.
“County Hall have now said they didn’t inform residents because it is being put off until January.
“They really need to improve their communication process. This has been appalling.”
Locals, many of whom use that stretch of road more than once a day either by car or on foot, are angry they have not been given any official notification of the closure, which yesterday was still listed online as beginning on October 1.
“I only found out because I subscribe to the County Council’s traffic management news online,” said Simon Bond, from the Lightfoot Lane Area Residents’ Association (LLARA).
“I was also advised by the Woodplumpton Parish Council. If I hadn’t heard from them, I don’t suppose I would have known, even though I’m part of the residents’ association. I’ve managed to tell some of the people along the lane, but I suspect there are still quite a few who don’t know it will be blocked off for a whole year.”
The LLARA residents group has been campaigning for years to stem an increase in traffic down Lightfoot Lane, created by some of the 20-plus housing developments now under way in the north of Preston. A building boom, sparked by a Government demand for more new homes in Preston, has created a Klondike-scale rush to develop in a huge green arc across the top of the city.
The Lightfoot Lane residents say the road has become a “rat run” for drivers trying to avoid delays on the busy main road which runs parallel and is groaning under the weight of traffic, especially at rush hour.
They say there are plans to one day stop up their section of road permanently and make it access only. There are even stronger rumours it will not reopen at all after the works.
In the meantime the car users, cyclists and dog walkers who all use that junction to access the rest of Lightfoot Lane are facing a long detour until October 2018 – at least.
Elizabeth Fisher, whose house is 30 yards from the intended road block and next door to her mother-in-law Jean, is worried she won’t be able to go on her regular walk with dog Bow.
“A few of us take our dogs out every day and we cross the main road and go down the track to Walker Lane,” she said.
“It’s such a busy road these days with all the extra traffic from new homes in the area – and all the roadworks that keep popping up – that it can take 15 or 20 minutes sometimes to get across.
“Reading the temporary traffic order it says that no motor vehicle, cycle or pedestrian will be allowed through. And if we can’t walk that way then it is a heck of a trek to go all the way round.
“I’m annoyed because, while there are so many rumours flying around, we haven’t been told anything official.
“If Simon Bond hadn’t alerted us to it we would have been totally unaware of what is going to happen.
“I think people are going to be very shocked when they realise the road is going to shut.”
Rosie Bond, who lives further down Lightfoot Lane, said: “This road has become lethal with all the extra traffic on it. It can now take 15 or 20 minutes to get from here to the motorway – and that’s before they start building more houses on the (Ingol) golf course.
“No-one is telling us anything. That’s what they do. We have asked the question about how people walking their dogs are meant to get across the road. But, typically, we haven’t had a response.
“It is supposed to take nine months to do whatever they are doing at the end of the road. But, who knows, it could take longer than that – and even be permanent.”
CITY COUNCILLOR’S VIEW
County Hall has been slammed for a “lack of communication” over the Lightfoot Lane scheme by an angry city councillor.
“The first I heard about this was on September 12 when notification was sent to local councillors,” said Tory Christine Abram.
“I’ve been trying since then to get clarification of what they are doing, because I couldn’t believe the road was being shut for a whole year.
“But I hadn’t been able to find out exactly what’s happening until last night.
“I contacted the county council and I was told the email saying it was going to close on October 1 should never have been sent out. It is now going to be January because the thing is delayed.
“But, whenever it is happening, why haven’t the residents and local councillors been kept in the loop about this?
“Are the locals not the most important people here?
“It seems there is a complete lack of communication between County Hall and local councillors and residents.
“It would have been polite to tell local councillors because we are the ones who get flak from the public.
“We should be able to tell them what’s happening, even if LCC can’t be bothered.”
COUNTY COUNCIL VIEW
Phill Wilson, project manager for the City Deal infrastructure team said: “Changes are being made to the road layout on Lightfoot Lane, as part of the planning approval for the David Wilson Homes development.
“This work will be carried out by the county council and includes the construction of a new toucan crossing, to help people to cross Lightfoot Lane near Walker Lane.
“The work will now start in January and is estimated to take up to nine months. It will only involve a short section of Lightfoot Lane, where it turns off from the junction with Tom Benson Way. Diversions will be in place during the work.
“We will maintain access for pedestrians where possible, provided it is safe to do this.”