Ambitious transport strategy for Lancashire is launched

Feb 5, 2016

Article from Highways Magazine

A new transport strategy published by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) outlines how major investments in rail and road initiatives could create 15,000 new jobs and generate £685 million in new economic growth.

The LEP says that the strategy is designed to put the county at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse – a proposal to boost economic growth in the North of England.

The Strategic Transport Prospectus highlights how through better transport links Lancashire can take full advantage of the government’s aspirations for a thriving Northern Powerhouse, and maximise the benefits offered by the county’s proximity to the North’s key city-regions.

The 48-page report, entitled Lancashire – as part of interconnected and productive northern powerhouse, outlines the LEP’s national, regional and local transport priorities in the short, medium and long-term and conveys the LEP’s vision of a physically connected and economically integrated Lancashire.

It also shows through detailed analysis that if the ambitious programme being put forward by the LEP was fully realised it could create 15,000 net new jobs and would contribute an additional £685m GVA a year to the UK economy.

Road priorities include all the major motorways which traverse Lancashire including specific stretches and junctions of the M6, M61, M65, M66 and M55.

In addition, many major artery roads in Lancashire, including those that are crucial to access areas such as Blackpool, South Fylde, Fleetwood and Lancaster, are highlighted as requiring improvement together with proposals on how to improve traffic flow, reduce congestion and alleviate ‘pinch points’ throughout Lancashire. Another major road scheme outlined includes a potential new River Ribble crossing, to link together the Preston Western Distributor and the South Ribble Western Distributor roads.

The Transport Prospectus will now be presented to central government and used to help leverage additional funding to support the LEP’s overarching strategic economic plan.

The LEP also intends to use the report as way to clearly make the case for Lancashire as a major player in the Northern Powerhouse initiative, with the Prospectus highlighting Lancashire’s substantial untapped economic potential which can be unlocked through better strategic transport links.

Jennifer Mein (pictured left with chief executive of Transport for the North David Brown), leader of Lancashire County Council and chair of Transport for Lancashire, the LEP’s strategic body for the delivery of transport policy, said: “This is the most extensive and ambitious transport plan Lancashire has ever put forward. It conveys not only the key transport priorities and needs of the county in order to deliver sustainable growth but also reflects the LEP’s vision for Lancashire as a region that is fully integrated, both physically and economically. This document is also fundamentally about Lancashire’s evidenced case-making to support more and better connectivity as a means to improve our access and economic influence over the Northern Powerhouse as a whole.

“It recognises that all parts of Lancashire are crucial to its long-term prosperity, which is why in addition to national and regional priorities the Transport Prospectus includes detailed local plans to address the economic needs of specific towns and areas. Such interlinked factors are at the heart of the government’s vision for a more connected and more productive North, and it is one which Lancashire wholeheartedly embraces.”

Edwin Booth, chair of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: “This report clearly shows how both existing and new funding for transport interventions will help us unlock a significant number of new jobs, new housing and new commercial development in Lancashire. It also builds on the fantastic investment the LEP has already helped to secure via initiatives such as the City Deal and the Growth Deal, and further sends a clear signal to both government and our northern neighbours about Lancashire’s ambition, appetite and determination to play a key role in the north’s economic prosperity.”

John Cridland, independent chair of Transport for the North (TfN) said: “There is much to do to improve transport capacity and links across the north and making this happen requires an ambitious vision at both a pan-northern and local level. For the first time, TfN brings together the whole of the north to speak with one voice on the big transport decisions to benefit the region as a whole, building towards the creation of the Northern Powerhouse. We welcome Lancashire’s Transport Prospectus and see it as a clear commitment to our vision and look forward to working closely with Transport for Lancashire and the LEP to build on existing strengths and ensure that every part of the north benefits in the development of the Northern Transport Strategy.”

The report can be downloaded from the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership website here.