Decision due on huge South Ribble business park plan – now also with houses

The Cuerden Strategic Site near Farington and Lostock Hall
The Cuerden Strategic Site near Farington and Lostock Hall
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  • Cuerden site between Farington and Lostock Hall is one of the single largest economic development sites in the Lancashire, Preston and South Ribble City Deal area
  • Housing has been added to the masterplan after a public consultation
  • Main access road has also been changed from Stanifield Lane to the M65 roundabout
  • Road improvements such as pedestrian crossings and speed reductions around the site also proposed
  • Decision on the masterplan will be made at a planning meeting tonight

A masterplan for one of the largest new business parks across the whole of Preston and South Ribble will go before the borough’s planning committee this week.

Lancashire County Council (LCC) has drawn up a vision to build on the Cuerden Strategic Site near Farington and Lostock Hall, which is expected to create around 2,500 jobs.

“Voting through this flawed masterplan on Wednesday will vote through a lifetime of traffic congestion for South Ribble”

Action group spokesman John Jones

Following a public consultation towards the end of last year, in which 94 people put their views forward, a new masterplan has been created aiming to address the concerns raised by the public, which included worries over increased traffic.

The revised plan, which will be voted upon by South Ribble Council’s planning committee tomorrow, Wednesday, includes building houses on the land, as well as the proposed employment uses.

The main access route has also been changed, and road improvements have been outlined as part of the proposals.

The 65-hectare greenfield site between the A582 Lostock Lane near St Catherine’s Hospice, the A5083 Stanifield Lane, and the A49 Wigan Road is earmarked for development under South Ribble Council’s Local Plan policy.

It is also one of the single largest economic development sites in the City Deal area, with the potential to create more than 10 per cent of the jobs expected to be created through the scheme over the next decade.

The site is also capable of delivering more than 30 per cent of the predicted commercial floorspace generated through the City Deal.

LCC has expressed a desire for the site to be “more than a conventional business or employment park”.

The new masterplan, which, if adopted this week will be used to guide future planning applications for the site, says: “The north west corner of the site, previously indicated for employment uses, is now proposed for residential development, providing a land use more in keeping with the existing residential uses.

“It is proposed to be accessed separately from Stanifield Lane so that traffic generated will not impact on the existing residential lanes.”

Stanifield Lane in Farington is no longer proposed to be used as the main access road to the site, with the main entrance now proposed to be from the M65 roundabout.

But the masterplan adds: “Long-term access to and from the site via Stanifield Lane should not be discounted as this could be important to the viability and connectivity of future development.

“There is potential for the site to accommodate a link road from the M65 terminus to Stanifield Lane.

“This could in the future give rise to a link from Stanifield Lane to Farington Road, through existing Green Belt countryside (the Farington Estate). This needs to be considered further, especially in the context of current plans to widen Farington Road and the adjacent roundabout, and in light of green belt policy.”

A ‘Limit Cuerden’ action group was formed last year, and the group feels that the changes over access are not enough to manage traffic problems in the area.

Spokesman John Jones said: “While Limit Cuerden accepts that development on this site can not be prevented, we had hoped that the council would have listened to concerns about traffic impact.

“The county council admits the A582 Lostock Lane is already congested – they wouldn’t be installing traffic lights on the Lostock Lane, Watkin Lane and Stanifield Lane roundabout otherwise.

“By limiting access to via the M65 roundabout only, traffic will be funnelled into the already congested Lostock Lane, making a bad situation worse.

“There absolutely needs to be more than one access point, perhaps to the north of the site, while existing residential roads need protecting from being ‘rat run’ short cuts.

“Essentially our concerns about the impact on traffic have not been addressed. Lostock Lane and surrounding roads will not be able to cope with the volume of traffic and there’s no indication that anyone is listening.

“Voting through this flawed masterplan on Wednesday will vote through a lifetime of traffic congestion for South Ribble.”

He added it was ‘concerning’ greenbelt land on the Farington Estate could be next for development, but added: “We would support housing development on parts of the site, especially near existing properties as it would help some way to mitigate against potential impact from oversized buildings.”

A number of measures to manage traffic flow and increase road safety around the site have been outlined in the masterplan. They include:

- Speed reduction measures on the M65;

- Potential pedestrian bridge over the A582 Lostock Lane/A6 London Way;

- Pedestrian crossings over the A6, A582 and A5083;

- More signage, bus stops, and cycling provision.

But Mr Jones doesn’t think the measures go far enough.

“Toucan crossings and reduced speed limits do nothing,” he said. “Changing single carriageway roads into dual carriageways will only increase traffic volume.

“People living nearby already know how bad Lostock Lane can get, especially when there’s an accident on the motorway – roads in Leyland, Lostock Hall and Bamber Bridge are gridlocked.”

Other proposes in the plan include:

- Designing the M65 roundabout junction to provide a sense of arrival;

- Creating extensive buffering to existing residential properties;

- Providing public transport connections through the site;

- Ensuring that the existing residential roads of Stoney Lane and Old School Lane serve existing residential properties only;

- Creating a network of green pedestrian and cycle links within the site.

The masterplan says: “Although Cuerden has been designated for some decades as an employment site, the lack of a coordinated approach to development has resulted in no development taking place.

“The masterplan presents an opportunity to present proposals to minimise the direct impact of the development.

“Cuerden is a very large site but the whole development must be driven by a high quality agenda, including high design standards of the buildings, treatment of environment and landscape matters, and the quality of business occupiers and jobs created.

“While there are significant economic benefits to developing the site, there are also clear social and community benefits both through the direct delivery of training and employment opportunities, and through opportunities for local businesses to grow.

“Cuerden will be more than a conventional business or employment park with a high quality agenda; it aims to be a place in its own right that functions beyond nine to five, Monday to Friday.”

Martin Kelly, Lancashire County Council’s director of economic development, told the Guardian: “The county council submitted a draft masterplan to South Ribble Borough Council last year, which was the subject of a comprehensive consultation, including three open public sessions and specific meetings for local residents living within the site.

“We’ve now submitted a revised masterplan after listening to the representations made during the consultation from local residents, businesses, other consultees and developers with interests on the site.

“This is an important milestone, but it’s important to remember that the masterplan itself is not a planning application. If the masterplan is agreed then any planning applications for Cuerden will have to provide more information on the proposed development, and further consultations will be held.”