Major schemes to improve the road and transport networks in Leyland and South Ribble have been brought forward after urgent calls were made to tackle traffic congestion in the area.
Lancashire County Council’s Highways and Transport Masterplan, which sets out options for changes to highways, public transport and walking and cycling facilities, has now been signed off.
It aims to encourage economic growth and make sure predicted increases in traffic don’t cause gridlock on the roads over the next 15 years by proposing drastic changes such as widening roads, creating bus-only lanes, and opening old railway stations.
But changes to the plan, subject to a public consultation throughout January and February, have been made after people urged the county council to move quickly to address traffic problems along busy routes in places such as Farington and Lostock Hall.
The council has also now pledged to bring forward a number of road improvements to accommodate a deluge of housing developments proposed to be built in the borough over the next 15 years.
The final version of the plan outlines that upgrades to the A582, known as Penwortham Way, and the B5253 Flensburg Way will be delivered in stages starting as soon as 2014/15, with work to design and cost the project to begin immediately.
The improvements include adding capacity to the road and reducing waiting times at junctions.
Earlier delivery of public transport priority measures and improvements for pedestrians and cyclists on main routes across the whole county are also proposed, and work to explore what can be done to improve the attractiveness and viability of Lostock Hall Railway Station, along with others outside of South Ribble, are also in the pipeline.
Support from residents and South Ribble Council to reopen the Midge Hall Railway Station in Moss Side, and improve access at Leyland Railway Station, have also been taken on board, and were outlined in the original masterplan published in January.
Other ideas put forward in the initial document include Hough Lane in Leyland town centre being opened up to allow more access for pedestrians and cyclists, and even getting some bus-only lanes in the town.
Areas of Towngate and Seven Stars could also get more space allocated for footpaths, while ‘public transport priority corridors’ are set to be developed to connect Leyland to Preston and Chorley, including from Moss Side, and through Euxton and Buckshaw Village.
Public realm improvements, which comprises streets, squares, parks and green spaces, are envisaged to take place in Seven Stars and Tardy Gate in 2017/18, Leyland town centre in 2018/19, and Penwortham in 2023/24.
Despite the alterations, South Ribble Council is still unhappy about some of the timescales for development, and asked for the consultation deadline to be extended to allow the cabinet members time to submit their views to Lancashire County Council (LCC).
The borough’s planning department sent a letter to LCC during the dedicated period, but the council’s cabinet, which only met last week, didn’t have time to add members’ concerns to the feedback.
They have worries that certain parts of the £275m transport scheme will not be completed in time to create an infrastructure suitable enough to support the vast amount of proposed housing estates in the area, which are expected to be delivered under the borough council’s Local Development Framework (LDF).
Suggestions were also put forward by South Ribble’s planning committee that plans to build a new ‘Guild Bridge’ (scheduled for after the year 2026), and complete the Penwortham Bypass (set for 2022/23) and the South Ribble Western Distributor road (2023/24) should be carried out much earlier than proposed, although these timescales haven’t been altered as part of the final transport masterplan document.
An LCC spokesman said additional comments will be taken on board as the scheme develops, although the final masterplan has been agreed.