Start date announced for building of Fylde to M55 link road
Work is due to start in May on construction of the long-awaited road set to bring jobs, housing and investment to Fylde.
The land and funding needed to deliver the M55 Heyhouses Link Road is now in place, and work is under way to let a contract to build the road, Lancashire County Council Fylde Council and the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership have confirmed.
The £27m road scheme will improve access between Lytham St Annes and the M55, relieve congestion on smaller local roads, and support the commercial viability of local housing and business development sites.
The scheme is one of 10 'shovel ready' projects across the county to receive support as part of the Getting Building Fund to speed up construction in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
The road, replacing the old moss road between Cypress Point at Ansdell and the Whitehills Business Park at Peel, close to the M55 junction 4, will provide vastly-improved access between the M55 motorway and existing employment areas in Lytham and St Annes, with the improved link to the coast also supporting the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone and the area's vital leisure and tourism industry.
In addition, Wild Lane on the northern section will connect into existing bridleways and become a route for pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians. On the southern section, the road will have a parallel footway/cycleway. Together they will provide a continuous sustainable transport corridor along the whole length of the new road.
Work to 'preload' the ground for the new road will begin in May and construction will follow when the ground has stabilised.
The link road project is expected to take around 30 months to complete, meaning drivers should be able to use it by the autumn of 2023.
United Utilities and Electricity Northwest have been working at the site since March to protect and divert existing utilities, with this preparation phase expected to be completed in May.
County Coun Keith Iddon, deputy leader of Lancashire County Council, said: "Journey times and reliability are crucial for securing additional investment into this area, and the new link road is key to facilitate future growth of the Fylde coast economy.
"Access from Lytham St Annes to the M55 is currently indirect for most people, with congestion in a number of places where existing roads are already nearing full capacity. I know residents and businesses have been looking forward to this project getting underway for some years.
"We have been working closely with a number of public partners and landowners to bring together the land and funding needed to deliver the scheme. Officers are now finalising contracts to allow work to start on site in May and agree a programme for construction."
Coun Karen Buckley, leader of Fylde Council, said: "Fylde Council has worked tirelessly with Lancashire County Council to finally make this happen and I am grateful for their commitment, and also for our MP, Mark Menzies, who has fully supported the scheme over a number of years.
"At the outset of negotiations, recognising the importance of the link road, Fylde Council pledged significant financial support and officer time. To see it finally underway will be a huge relief to our residents and the tangible benefits to the local community will assist our post-Covid recovery."
Fylde MP Mark Menzies said: "This is the culmination of 10 years of campaigning. At the start of the process I was told it was all too difficult and unlikely ever to be achieved, but I lobbied Highways England, Homes England, the Prime Minister and Chancellor to secure a great deal of that funding, alongside the real drive and funding from Lancashire County and Fylde Councils.
"I cannot wait for the day we can drive across this road and see the benefits it will bring to the economic development of the area."
David Taylor, chairman of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: "This funding provided via the LEP will unlock homes, create new jobs and deliver investment in commercial and green spaces, and give a much-needed boost to the local economy.
"This project will also improve connectivity to the nearby Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone, making it more attractive to businesses and helping to secure further inward investment to the Fylde Coast."
All legal contracts and funding are now in place to deliver the link road. A County Council spokesman added: "This is a complicated scheme which has been progressing for many years, and Lancashire County Council, as the highways authority and sponsor of the scheme, is grateful for the full support of all neighbouring landowners, in particular Kensington Developments Limited and Home Farm (Lytham) Limited, where land has been secured through their agreement.
"Thanks also to landowners adjacent to the route of the new road for their agreement to provide working space to make construction easier."
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