LANCASHIRE County Council is set to force through a huge new £115m roads project.
Landowners in the north Preston area could be served with compulsory purchase orders if they fail to reach agreement on selling to make way for the proposed Preston Western Distributor, East-West Link and Cottam Link roads.
Plans have been officially submitted for the road – linking Preston and southern Fylde to the M55 motorway.
The application by Lancashire County Council also includes two new roads connecting to new and existing housing areas of North West Preston and Cottam.
The new roads will carve through prime agricultural land of North Preston, in an area in which many acres have, until now, been a quiet rural backwater.
Transport chiefs say the project will promote new housing and business development in the area, while increasing capacity on the existing local road network.
There will also be opportunities for new bus priority measures, improvements to local public areas and improvements to encourage walking and cycling.
But the prospect of the new highway is causing concern for many of those most directly affected.
While there is recognition that small rural roads will not be able to cope with the amount of traffic generated by Cottam’s boomtown status, some farmers are wondering just how viable their businesses will be over the next few years as the landscape is transformed.
Householders whose properties adjoin the proposed roads fear their homes will lose value.
However it’s not all opposition – for some the new routes are good news offering the prospect of a business boom, hopes of safer roads or better transport links.
The council says it will attempt to assemble the land needed by negotiation, using compulsory purchase orders for land as “the last resort” and is not seeking to purchase homes.
County Coun John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “This is another major step for this scheme to deliver a new road to this area, providing additional capacity to the network, helping people to get around and supporting new economic growth in the area.
“A new motorway junction will improve travel times for people coming to and from the city, while also relieving congestion on other parts of the road network.Through City Deal we’re unlocking the potential of the area, bringing new jobs and new homes for people.”
He added: “We’re already seeing major changes across the area through our City Deal, such as the Broughton Bypass and expansion of the A582, as well as improvements to town and city centres. This will bring new people into the area and deliver new economic growth.”
Coun John Swindells, deputy leader of Preston City Council, said: “City Deal is making great progress and this is another important milestone for Preston. We’re talking a major new junction on the motorway which will make a huge difference to the area. The Preston Western Distributor road is a massive improvement in Preston’s transport infrastructure and the catalyst for unlocking new homes and business growth across Preston. We’re looking forward to the plans taking shape.”
When land was purchased for the Central Lancashire New Town landowners argued for “hope” valuations and got much more than the basic agricultural land values. Currently small parcels of farmland sold for agricultural use would bring £10,000 per acre or more.
The proposed Preston Western Distributor is a 4.3km dual carriageway linking the A583 at Lea to the M55 at Bartle with a new motorway junction.
The East West Link Road would be a 3.4km long single carriageway road linking Lightfoot Lane to the Preston Western Distributor, with segregated foot and cycle ways along its full length.
As part of the Preston Western Distributor, a single carriageway link road will be created to Cottam Way. Thee Cottam Link Road will join the Preston Western Distributor just north of the Lancaster Canal.
The council says that subject to planning approval it is hoped work will start as soon as the land has been acquired and the project could take up to three years.