Land deal agreed at former truck test track

The first step towards redeveloping the old Leyland Motors Test Track in Lancashire has been taken with the signing of a land deal between public and private sector partners.

Contracts have been signed and exchanged between South Ribble Council and Pilgrim Technology, which jointly own the land, and developer Property Capital.

New homes are planned for the site in Moss Side, with community facilities, employment and commercial development. The scheme will include affordable housing.

The next stage will be the preparation of a masterplan by Property Capital, which will set out the look and feel of the development. The council terms dictate that the masterplan must include protection of open and green space on the site, identifying points of access and making plans for pedestrian and cycling provision.

If agreed, following public consultation, planning applications would be submitted, and work could start on the scheme within 12 months.

The 120-acre former test track site, which lies between the Moss Side Industrial Estate and Longmeanygate, was used by Leyland Motors to trial prototypes and vehicles fresh from the production line. But the site has been unused since 2005.

The scheme is expected to take five years to complete, and is part of the £434m Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal.

Cllr Colin Clark, deputy leader of South Ribble Council, said: “We have big plans for the future of South Ribble and the former Leyland Motors test track is a key site in realising these ambitions through the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal.

“The signing of the land deal marks the important first step in the process and I’m excited that we can now get the wheels in motion to start bringing some real benefits to residents, including excellent new community facilities.

“This site will allow us to welcome new employers and residents to our borough, and crucially to have a plan in place to maintain South Ribble’s rural nature while doing so.”

David Colvin, partner at property adviser Matthews & Goodman, acted on behalf of Pilgrim Technology. He said: “Matthews & Goodman has provided Pilgrim Technology with property consultancy advice on the former Leyland Test Track for over 10 years, throughout the entire process, which embraced preliminary land use studies and led to the approved development brief, the marketing campaign and successful sales negotiations.

“Matthews & Goodman and its clients Pilgrim Technology have worked, liaised and cooperated fully with South Ribble Borough Council to ensure the optimum solution which contributes most to the local community and the economy.”

South Ribble commercial occupancy rates run at over 90%, according to council figures. Demand for new business accommodation delivered as part of the project is likely to generate early interest supporting local jobs and skills development in the area.

Jim Hennessey, managing director of Property Capital, said: “We have worked together with all parties to conclude this deal and are now hopeful of working closely with the community and planners to deliver a scheme that benefits all concerned not only in much needed housing but also community and potential employment benefits. This is a project that we should be able to stand back on completion and all be proud of.”

City Deal aims to create more than 20,000 private sector jobs and see 17,000 new homes built across the programme area over the next 10 years. There will also be new school places, open green spaces and new health provision to cater for the growing population.

Jim Carter, chairman of City Deal, said: “South Ribble has so much potential to drive economic growth in the City Deal area. Sustainable development opportunities such as this, with mixed housing, employment and public space, are critical to the success of this vital project.

“Everyone involved in City Deal is working hard to promote and support our area, in the interests of our communities.

“We’re already seeing a great deal of momentum building around City Deal projects across the area. Many major new schemes are now being developed that will transform this area over the coming years – helping people to get around, improving the areas where people live and bringing new economic growth.”

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