Money set aside to make Leyland town square vision a reality

The town centre square plans would involve opening up the grounds of the United Reformed Church in Hough Lane
The town centre square plans would involve opening up the grounds of the United Reformed Church in Hough Lane

The ball will finally start rolling on exciting plans to create a town centre square in the heart of Leyland this year.

Ambitious ideas are in place for the grounds of the United Reformed Church in Hough Lane to be opened up onto the high street, to develop a formal gathering space.

It is also hoped the square could be used for social events, and as a means of attracting more visitors to Leyland.

The scheme has been in the pipeline for years, and now South Ribble Council has committed £2,900 in its budget to make improvements in the town centre between this year and 2017.

Phase three of Leyland’s enhancement works will follow on from the high street being resurfaced and the market entrance being upgraded over the past few years.

The council has earmarked £190,000 to be spent in 2015/16 in its budget proposals, and a further £100,000 the following year.

What’s more, council leader, Coun Margaret Smith, says there could even be scope to invest more money into the project as time goes on, and enhance the improvements even further.

She said: “We’ve been working on other regeneration schemes across the borough these last couple of years, such as in Penwortham and Longton, and now we have plans for Bamber Bridge.

“And what we’ve found is that, as more money is coming in from the City Deal, we’re able to upgrade those plans. I expect the same will happen in Leyland.

“We know the basis of the scheme – in Leyland’s case, it’s the town square – but we expect there will be more meat to add to the bones later on.”

The idea was first established by church-goers some time ago, and plans were drawn up in 2012 as the town centre square became the forefront of Leyland’s bid to apply for funding and expert advice from celebrity retail guru, Mary Portas.

Leyland was unsuccessful in its bid to become a ‘Portas Pilot Town’, and the scheme took a back seat while work was carried out in other part of the South Ribble, using council funds.

Coun Smith said: “These things do take time and the planning and public consultations need to take shape yet, but the money’s there so hopefully we’ll start to see the fruits of our endeavours this year.”

Money is also being allocated for regeneration schemes in other parts of the borough; £97,000 is going to Bamber Bridge after it received £3,000 last year, £20,00 is set for Penwortham on top of the £90,000 it was awarded last year, and £12,800 will be used towards the extension of the multi-use track created last year in the Moss Side Playing Fields area, also known as Malt Kiln Fold.

Last year, the council made a £28,000 contribution towards the overall development of the playing fields, which will include drainage of the rugby and football pitches, a car park extension, and a new clubhouse.

“I’m particularly pleased with the work being done in Moss Side,” Coun Smith said. “It’s a real coming together of people through the Leyland My Neighbourhood Forum, from the rugby club to the bridleways association.”

Projects which received funding in 2014/15 included improvements in Longton village (£128,000), a regeneration scheme in Higher Walton (£2,022), the Much Hoole off-road cycle track (£6,000), and Penwortham Greenback (£1,657).

- For more on South Ribble Council’s budget plans, including proposals for Worden Park and a new apprenticeship scheme in Leyland, see this week’s Leyland Guardian.