Major strategic development programmes are planned across Lancashire, which will accelerate our economic recovery from the pandemic and enable our future growth plans, writes Stephen Young of Lancashire County Council.
Along with our partners, we’re redefining Lancashire through a safe and sustainable approach to our Covid recovery.
We are proactively working with a wide range of public and private sector partners to deliver regionally and nationally significant schemes and develop new opportunities through major strategic sites and key infrastructure. These will shape and transform Lancashire’s identity for many years to come, with the aim of bringing thousands of new jobs, and increase investment and skills.
As part of our ‘economic jigsaw’, this will accelerate our economy, strengthen resilience, attract developers and investors, and provide opportunities for new and emerging business sectors.
To realise these ambitions, we are currently recruiting to bring together a skilled team, which will drive forward our plans. Our recruitment focus over coming months includes a range of new roles such as programme and project managers, an estates development lead, principal planners and project officers.
We are already home to the second largest economy in the North West, and there’s still more potential here. Our increased capacity will help to deliver our key aims to grow Lancashire’s economy.
A major development site in the heart of Lancashire
At the Samlesbury Enterprise Zone, located next to BAE Systems, we are working closely with partners to deliver more than 2,000 jobs and up to 1.5m sq ft of development space. We are leading on work to facilitate and enable the development of this prime employment site.
There’s already been multimillion-pound investment to date and very strong interest from various sectors including manufacturers, and innovation and high-technology companies. BAE Systems has invested significantly in the site with new manufacturing and high-tech facilities, including the Academy for Skills & Knowledge.
Construction of the £20m Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre North West is progressing well. The AMRC North West will anchor the Research & Development ‘zone’ on the site. Property enquiries have increased significantly over recent months as this zone takes shape.
Led by the University of Sheffield and supported by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, the aim of the AMRC North West is to accelerate manufacturing growth, supporting the supply chains in the region to drive up productivity sustaining manufacturing. It will support the positioning of Lancashire as a leader in innovation-driven sustainable economic growth, and act as a catalyst for further inward investment.
The county council has delivered the majority of the Enterprise Zone’s current access infrastructure and plot preparation works. To support and unlock the development of the site, Electricity North West is investing several million pounds in its infrastructure, including a new primary substation.
Key strategic development projects around the county
Elsewhere in Lancashire, several strategic economic growth projects are either planned or already underway. The highest-profile is the Eden Project North, a proposed major attraction in Morecambe that seeks to reimagine the British seaside resort for the 21st century. Conversations are continuing with Government for support towards the project.
It could attract around one million visitors a year and would directly employ more than 400 people. In addition to money spent at Eden itself, visitors could spend an estimated £200m per year in the region, supporting an additional 1,500 jobs.
Eden Project North, along with partners including ourselves, is preparing a planning application for submission later this year.
We are developing proposals through the South Lancaster Growth Catalyst to address existing transport constraints and unlock significant development opportunities in the North of the county. This is possible following a successful bid last year for £140m from the Government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund.
Next to the M65 at Bamber Bridge, one of the largest mixed-use employment sites in the North West could deliver thousands of jobs and provide much-needed new industrial and logistics accommodation, alongside other employment and business uses. Known as Lancashire Central, preparatory work at Cuerden is continuing to develop this site, working with our developer partner Maple Grove Developments, part of the Eric Wright Group.
Additionally, we recently reached an agreement with Lancashire Cricket Club to work together to support the delivery of local, regional and national cricket in the county. As well as creating jobs and growth, it will increase the county’s appeal as a place to live and improve health and wellbeing.
Our unique agreement will look to develop a second home for the club’s teams and bring together professional and amateur cricketers, and support the development of community and recreational sport in Lancashire.
The project also aims to bring increased education, skills and training opportunities for students, across varied age groups.
Delivering on our aims
Construction continues on the Preston Western Distributor road scheme, which will improve access around the area by improving journey times to key employment sites and the city centre. Due to open in 2023, this major scheme for the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal includes a new junction on the M55, new access on the western parts of the city and will enable the delivery of a new Cottam Parkway railway station.
Recognising the importance of the zero-carbon agenda, we’re working with our partners to explore and deliver innovation opportunities at strategic sites. At the Samlesbury Enterprise Zone, for example, 2,000 trees have already been planted and we’ll be working on a range of environmental and sustainable technologies.
We are focused on reinforcing Lancashire’s strong position as a great place to invest, work and live.
- Stephen Young is executive director of growth, environment and transport at Lancashire County Council
Find out about Lancashire’s new job opportunities at lancashire.gov.uk/jobs/major-projects/