A new road to open up South Ribble and relieve congestion is to open “imminently”.
Work has now finished on the Cross Borough Link Road (CBLR) which has been built between Carwood Road in Walton-le-Dale and The Cawsey/Leyland Road in Penwortham, with Lancashire County Council going through final checks and safety audits.
The CBLR – first discussed almost 50 years ago – has long been heralded as a way to open up access to the A6, motorway networks and drive more people to invest in the local economy.
The scheme, which involves a road bridge over the Preston Junction nature reserve, is being paid for by Morris Homes, which is building 281 homes on the former gas works site off Leyland Road.
A Morris Homes spokesman said: “We can confirm that the works have been completed. Final checks and safety audits are being carried out by Lancashire County Council and we hope to be opening the road imminently upon approval.
“We are currently going through the adoption process. We are very happy to be providing such key improvements to the travel infrastructure for the local area. Together with our popular new development, St Mary’s Park, Morris Homes are proud to be such an integral partner in the community.”
A spokesman for Lancashire County Council said: “We have been working with the developer throughout construction to allow the road to be opened and available for public use as soon as possible, and are currently working with them on some final details.
“We’re also progressing proposals for a number of improvements to better manage the influence of extra traffic on Carwood Road with the highway link open between Leyland Road and the A6 London Way.
“These include a new Toucan crossing and a number of other minor improvements to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians to be delivered over the coming months once the new road is open.”
Councillor Paul Foster, leader of South Ribble Council said: "This link road has taken a significant effort to bring to fruition and as a Council we really do hope it eases the congestion in the local area around Lostock Hall, Penwortham and Walton Park.
"The climate, air quality in particular, and traffic congestion are a real issue within South Ribble, and so any infrastructure that can support improvements will be championed.
"That said, I am personally aware that many local residents in and around The Cawsey and Bee Lane remain unconvinced that the opening of this link road will ease the problems, in fact there is a concern it may make matters worse.
"I can assure the local community that we will monitor the situation closely, our local communities needs must come first. As an administration we are concerned at the historic piecemeal approach to development within South Ribble, and the negative impact it has created; we are very much in the process of doing something proactive about it."
Councillor Matt Campbell who represents the Walton-le-Dale West ward said: "The majority of residents are looking forward to the cross borough link road opening, as it has been in the pipeline since the 1970s.
"I welcome the opening of the cross borough link road, the new road will reduce journey times and ease congestion especially on Leyland Road in Lostock Hall.
"I have received emails from residents concerned about possible speeding which will this will need to be closely monitored when the road opens.
"Concerns have also been raised about increased congestion at the Carrwood Road and London Way junction especially at peak times.
"The new road will improve connections between communities of Walton-Le-Dale and Penwortham, the access to local amenities, parks and clubs will be welcomed by residents."
What's the background?
The new road – first mooted in 1971 – has been beset by problems and delays.
In 2013, South Ribble Borough Council passed plans to build the CBLR and landowner National Grid announced it was confident of signing up a house builder by January 2014, with work predicted to begin in early 2015. But time slipped and it was only in 2015 that Morris Homes and National Grid were given joint approval for 281 dwellings on the site.
Two years ago, National Grid admitted there had been “some issues” between parties stopping progress, with some councillors calling the scheme ‘Never Never Land’ and accusing South Ribble Council of being “impotent”, allowing problems between landowners and developers to hold the project up.
Following the sale of the land by National Grid, work finally began in May last year, with no publicity.
There have been mixed views from residents either side of the new road.
Those living near to The Cawsey are said to be happier about the development than those living on or near to Carwood Road, who suffered from problems of dust during hot weather, and are unhappy about the loss of a cul-de-sac location.
The Cross Borough Link Road will be the main access to the new homes, delivered by means of a signalised junction.