A major gateway into the centre of Preston is set to be transformed through a £1m project to breathe new life into the area.
New Hall Lane is in line for the funding boost with cash from the City Deal, which will provide better crossings, improved footways and increased parking.
The initial ideas in the plans include making more room for pedestrians, providing better, safer crossing facilities on New Hall Lane and at junctions, improving the quality of footways and increasing parking for shoppers and residents
The project, eventually hoped to join up with other improvement schemes in the city, has been described as “ambitious” by community leaders, who say improvements have been needed in the neglected area for many years.
Plans for the area between Acregate Lane and Skeffington Road are due to be discussed by residents before they go ahead, with work predicted to start early next year.
Coun John Swindells, Preston Council’s cabinet member for planning and regulation, said: “It’s one of the first pieces of work that will come out of the City Deal in Preston.
“It’s improving the gateways in Preston and uplifting that street with high quality road improvements and, hopefully, that will lift the whole area up.
“It is to improve the crossing points and make it more user friendly, and improve the public realm.”
Coun Swindells said the first phase of the project was £1m, and said: “Then we will look to carry it on into the city when we get there, and it will join up with the whole uplifting of Preston.
“We will look to move onto Ribbleton Lane in future years, but funding has to be found.
“It’s good news, it’s an area that needs improving and bringing up and we are looking to deal with some of the empty homes in that area as well.”
A report to Coun Swindells said that, as part of the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal, there was a programme to improve “key transport corridors and local centres”.
It said: “The initial ideas in the plans include making more room for pedestrians, providing better, safer crossing facilities on New Hall Lane and at junctions, improving the quality of footways and increasing parking for shoppers and residents.
“The extent of this scheme is essentially for the area between Acregate Lane and Skeffington Road.
“Trees, planting and lighting will enhance the area and the scheme will complement other community-led projects in the area such as the planter art work scheme and the potential for community based investment through the Big Local fund. City deal funding for the proposed improvements could be in excess of £1m.”
There are also plans to reduce traffic speeds, as well as improved traffic flow.
St Matthew’s councillor, Roy Leeming, said: “There will be a big improvement, it will be good for the commercial properties if there is more parking, and one of the aims is to slow down traffic.
“It’s an ambitions scheme, it’s definitely needed, but it will have to be managed.
“I’m glad after a long time St Matthew’s ward seems to be moving up the focus so its a case of keep taking the good things and keep building on that.”
Consultations are due to start later this month at the Friends of Fishwick and St Matthew’s meeting, and continue until the end of March.
New Hall Lane resident Bob Fletcher, who is also treasurer of the community group, said: “New Hall Lane has been in need of a bit of investment for a long time.
“It’s been run down and neglected of any sort of investment, there are double yellow lines everywhere, the shops are struggling to survive because vehicles can’t stop.
“They are talking about moving them and they are going to widen the pavements.
“It’s going to be pedestrian friendly and they are going to try to slow the traffic down a bit.”
He said the community group was going to be contributing to the project by renovating run-down planters in the area.
Bob said: “I am going to be pushing for small island crossing points.
“I am having to cross people over to get to the doctors, so what’s needed is not a full crossing but a small island at strategic points, so I’m going to push for that.
“Also, where the bus stops, there needs to be a place for it to pull in so it doesn’t block all the traffic.”
The report said detailed design work and investigations would take place throughout this year, with work starting in early 2016.
Construction is hoped to be finished by late 2016 or early 2017.