New jobs, homes and transport for Lancashire
It's just over a year since the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal was launched, and the first stages of work have already brought benefits to the area.
New sections of road have been built, Preston's main shopping area has been improved, new housing developments are going ahead and plans are well under way to improve local centres, all as part of this £370m programme of investment in new and improved infrastructure – including new roads, schools, and open space – to support the area's growth.
The City Deal was officially launched in June last year by Lord Heseltine, following agreement between Preston City Council, South Ribble Borough Council and Lancashire County Council, along with central government and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).
Its aim is to open up job opportunities, improve travel times and create great places for families to live.
Jim Carter, chair of the City Deal, said: "In the relatively short space of time since it was launched, people are already benefiting from these plans, with much more to come.
"Thanks to the City Deal, central Lancashire will be transformed over the next few years, growing the local economy by over £1bn and making it an even better place to live and work. It will create more than 20,000 new jobs and more than 17,000 new homes.
"As well as planning for future developments, people will see immediate benefits from the work that's been taking place, including shorter journey times, less congestion and improved safety for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.
"This is already a great place to live and work. And thanks to the City Deal, it's about to get even better."
Communities Secretary Greg Clark MP said: “This City Deal is providing huge opportunities for people in Lancashire and is already improving local road links. It demonstrates how the strengths of an area can be harnessed by local councils and businesses working positively with the Government to boost the local economy.
“We are determined to rebalance the economy and create a Northern Powerhouse. By investing in infrastructure and skills this deal is ensuring the area has the tools it needs to thrive, on top of providing the jobs and homes that will benefit many people locally."
The most visible signs of the work that's already taken place are along the A582 in South Ribble, which links the centre of Preston to the motorway network, where junctions are being improved and sections of road widened to create a dual-carriageway, as part of £45m improvement plans for this road.
Improving the A582 is reducing congestion and making it much easier for people to get around, while supporting planned new development in the area and encouraging economic growth.
According to comments from the public, travel times into the city centre at peak times have already reduced by around 10-15 minutes.
Work completed so far has widened and improved junctions and upgraded part of Golden Way to a dual carriageway. This road widening work is continuing and the final stages of work on the Stanifield Lane roundabout are expected to be completed in the early autumn, improving pedestrian and cycling facilities and creating more space for traffic.
Just off the A582, a masterplan was approved for the Cuerden employment site by South Ribble Borough Council in April. Planning applications for the first phase of the site are expected to be submitted later in the year, to bring new jobs.
To the north of Preston, work has started to build the first houses at the former Whittingham Hospital site and on land south of Whittingham Road. This will help to meet housing needs in the area in coming years.
The recently approved plans for the Broughton Bypass will be a key way for people to get to this site.
The £24m Broughton Bypass, a key City Deal project, has also just received Government approval to purchase the land it will be built on.
The route for a major road linking Preston and the southern Fylde to the M55, known as the Preston Western Distributor (PWD), has been confirmed by the county council. This will protect the route of the proposed 4km-long dual carriageway and associated link roads from further development. A planning application is expected in March 2016, with work scheduled to start on the first part, an east-west link road, by the end of 2016.
The PWD will support planned housing in north-west Preston, improve access to the new Enterprise Zone in Warton, and provide an option to avoid rush hour congestion in the city centre.
In 2014/15, 980 houses were completed across all of the City Deal housing sites. This includes 98 empty homes brought back into use, and 215 office units converted for residential use.
As well as building new roads, City Deal aims to improve local centres with new paving, lighting, landscaping, parking, and provide better cycle routes. Bamber Bridge, Broughton, Penwortham and New Hall Lane will all see welcome improvements to existing local centres.
The £1m project for New Hall Lane in Preston will breathe new life into this major gateway into the city. A public consultation was held in March and work is anticipated to start next year.
And work is continuing to regenerate Preston city centre, with the first phase of improvements to Fishergate completed, and the second £6m phase of improvements underway, as well as the recently announced plans for Preston Bus Station.
A new market and cinema development have been proposed for the centre of Preston, replacing the current markets and overhauling a key city centre site with new commercial space.
Alongside the projects already underway, work is continuing on further plans as part of the City Deal that will make it easier for people to get around, provide new job opportunities and new homes.
Background facts about City Deal
City Deal's ten year vision:
* Investing £430m in the area
* Four major new roads and a new motorway junction
* Building 17,000 new homes
* Creating more than 20,000 new jobs
* Creating almost four miles of new roads
* Making almost five miles of new dual carriageways
* Improvements to sustainable transport routes and public areas
* A new railway station at Cottam
* Supporting the development of one million square metres of commercial floor space