Drive to acquire 375 parcels of land gets under way to allow Lancashire’s new £189.45m highways project to be built. Business chiefs say the development will ease congestion and boost the local economy.
A multi-million pound buy-up has begun to create one of Lancashire’s biggest new road projects.
The massive buy-up of 375 parcels of land in Lea and Cottam will pave the way for the £189.45m M55 link project.
It will see a new junction two created on the M55, with a new road linking it to the A583, Blackpool Road, at Lea.
There will also be a 3.4km long East-West link road connecting it to Lightfoot Lane, in Fulwood, Preston, and one linking to Cottam Way, further south.
The land being bought up is mostly agricultural, but also includes part of the playground and beer garden at the Saddle Inn in Lea.
Although no houses will be demolished for the scheme three gardens are affected and certain public highways will also be needed to make way for plans.
Rick Bailey, chief executive officer of Thwaites which owns the Saddle Inn, said: “While we are supportive of the new road, we are extremely concerned about the detailed plans and the detrimental impact it will have on the Saddle Inn – its outside area is one of the pub’s great features and any loss to it is likely to be to the detriment of its future.”
It is claimed the project will ease congestion and bring in £2.29 in benefits for every pound invested in its delivery.
Business chiefs say it has the potential to boost the local economy by £144m over the 60-year evaluation period, principally through unlocked development.
But pub owners whose customers will have to put up with the drone of traffic going by their beer gardens say that the scheme is going to have an adverse affect on businesses.
The licensee of the Sitting Goose pub, who did not give his name, said: “It is actually going to hit us very hard. The roadworks are going to hem the pub in completely – to the front, to the back and to the side and even if there’s a way in to the pub customers won’t come, they’ll go to another place.”
The majority of the land affected – which also includes footpaths and ponds – falls within the Preston City Council boundary, but affects 127,168 sq m of land in Fylde, mainly around Lea Lane.
As part of the plans there will be changes to the existing highway network and two bridge schemes, as the new road will cross the Lancaster Canal and the Millennium Ribble Link.
A new parkway rail station is planned on the Blackpool to Preston line at Cottam, which will take its access from this road scheme.
Together with other major road investment in the area, this scheme will allow for bus priority measures, public realm enhancements and cycling and walking provision on existing routes.
Work will only begin to lay the new road once all the land, which does not include any homes, has been purchased.
The total estimated cost of the three roads in this scheme is £189.45m, which will be met from a combination of public and private sector funds.
This would include £58m of Lancashire’s Local Growth Fund which would specifically support the new dual carriageway to the west of Preston.
If work for the scheme goes ahead as planned construction could start by the end of 2019.
Highways England will provide £25m towards the cost of a new motorway junction and there will also be contributions secured from new housing developments across the area.
Planning permission was granted for the construction of the scheme and the associated ecological mitigation measures on October 4, 2017.