Land assembly and compulsory purchase orders for a 4.3km dual carriageway to the west of Preston, connecting the A583 Preston to Blackpool Road at Lea with a new Junction 2 on the M55, are due to start after being approved by Lancashire County Council.
The scheme also includes a 3.4km east-west link road connecting to Lightfoot Lane, and a link road at Cottam.
The county council will now start the processes of compulsory purchase orders for land and rights, as well as changes to the existing highway network and two bridge schemes, as the new road will cross the Lancaster Canal and the Millennium Ribble Link.
No houses will need to be demolished, although three gardens are affected, along with a single business which requires the agreed relocation of some buildings. The bulk of the land affected is farm land.
The project is identified in the Central Lancashire Highways and Transport Masterplan and in Preston’s Local Plan to support the delivery of more than 5,000 homes in the North West Preston housing area as well as improving access to the motorway network and key employment sites such as Warton and Westinghouse Springfields Works.
The project will provide added road capacity, relief to Junction 1 of the M55 and surrounding roads, as well as east-west routes through the city centre. A parkway rail station is planned on the Preston-Blackpool line at Cottam, which will take its access from this road scheme.
Geoff Driver, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “This scheme will create three new roads on the western side of Preston, from the M55 towards Blackpool Road and Riversway. This will benefit residents and businesses not just in the local area, but across Preston, South Ribble, large parts of the Fylde coast, and further afield.
“We’re already talking with landowners to see if they will agree to sell or grant us the necessary rights by agreement. This is an important stage in the process as we can only begin construction once we have the land we need.”
In addition, said Driver, the existing highway infrastructure would benefit from new bus priority measures, improvements to local public spaces and initiatives to encourage walking and cycling.
Planning permission was granted for the scheme and the associated ecological mitigation measures in October 2017.
The total estimated cost of the three roads in this scheme is £189.45m, to be met from a combination of public and private sector funds. This would include £58m of Lancashire’s Local Growth Fund, specifically supporting the dual carriageway. Highways England will provide £25m towards the cost of the motorway junction, while further contributions would be secured from housing developers.
The Growth Deal funding has conditional approval from the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, meaning a full business case for the scheme will now be prepared which will go to both the LEP and the Secretary of State next year. If approval is given by both, construction could start by the end of 2019.
Graham Cowley, chairman of LEP’s growth deal management board, said: “Improved connectivity and better transport infrastructure is a key priority for the LEP and the government’s Northern Powerhouse programme, and this scheme will help to unlock massive economic potential throughout central Lancashire.”