Tram plans moving forward

Ambitious plans to extend Blackpool's historic tramway could move a step closer to reality next week.

Saturday, 21st May 2016, 12:00 pm
Tram services could be extended to Blackpool North
Tram services could be extended to Blackpool North

Members of Blackpool Council’s executive have been asked to approve an application for a Transport and Works Act order – essentially asking for Government permission to press on with the ambitious project.

No new tram lines have been laid in Blackpool since the 1920s and services have not run along Talbot Road since 1963.

All that could change with Blackpool Council hoping to connect the current line to Blackpool North station as part of an £18.2m scheme.

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The council is hoping to avoid making seperate cases for planning permission and land right by asking for the specialist order, whichcan only be granted by the Secretary of State.

The proposal is outlined in a report for councillors to consider at Monday’s meeting.

The report says: “In order to extend the tramway powers are needed to construct, maintain and operate the tramway extension and to acquire necessary land rights.

“The most convenient way of obtaining these powers is through a Transport and Works Act Order.

“It is possible to apply seperately for planning permission for the tramway extension and to seek to acquire the necessary land rights voluntarily.

“However this is a more complex course of action and less likely to succeed.”

If approved by the executive, the proposal will still have to pass a meeting of the full council before an approach is made to the Department of Transport.

The proposed scheme includes the laying of track and construction of overhead power lines on Talbot Road.

A new tramway terminus will be built close to Blackpool North station on the site currently occupied by the Wilkinsons store.

Blackpool Council is paying £4.7m towards the extension with central Government putting up the remainder of the funding.

The tramway extension, providing a link to the national rail network, has not been universally welcomed.

Taxi drivers have expressed concerns over increased delays while a number of members of the public have raised concern about cars and trams sharing the busy street.

Those concerns were heightened last week when a tram and a taxi collided outside the Metropole Hotel.

The collision was widely reported on social media with a number of those commenting expressing concerns over the increased risk of collision should tram services run along Talbot Road alongside regular traffic.

Coun Gillian Campbell, deputy leader of Blackpool Council, said: “The quality of our transport network drives our local economy.

“From bringing visitors in to helping businesses grow, it is all underpinned by a working transport system.”