Way clear to start £25m final phase of Edge Lane upgrade

After years of legal battles, Liverpool City Council has started planning in detail for the final stage of works to improve the Edge Lane gateway into the city centre, following the withdrawal of opposition by campaigners.

The campaign group, led by local resident Elizabeth Pascoe, had 21 days to appeal against a decision at the end of March by a High Court Judge who dismissed a challenge made against the Secretary of State's decision to confirm the compulsory purchase order for Edge Lane West.

Pascoe successfully quashed the first CPO in 2006 on a technicality. The second CPO was passed in September 2008. She said she could no longer afford to maintain the legal battle by appealing, having spent £40,000 in the past four years.

A £15m to £25m contract can now be activated to continue the dual carriageway from the M62 along Edge Lane towards the centre.

Other environmental improvements will include better pedestrian facilities at new and upgraded junctions, soft landscaping, extensive tree planting and "the highest quality of public realm", the brief stated. "Public art will play an important part of the overall concept and theme of Edge Lane West, which could include sculptures and lighting based artwork."

Around 370 houses will be demolished to make way for the dual carriageway and public realm. The majority of these will be cleared under a separate contract, but it will be necessary for the 125 properties fronting the road to be demolished and cleared by the highway contractor, in advance.

The first three months of the 23-month contract will be spent moving utilities pipes and services.

Earlier phases of the Edge Lane project have seen new entrances to the Liverpool Science Park and extensive landscaping and highways improvements to other parts of the busy road.

The project is funded by the Homes & Communities Agency, Liverpool City Council and coordinated by Liverpool Vision.

Eliot Lewis-Ward, HCA area director for Merseyside and Cheshire, said: "We welcome what we hope is a green light to start work on this extremely important project.

"The plans involve the comprehensive regeneration of the Edge Lane corridor, which will help to attract new jobs, provide good quality housing and new community facilities. In addition the work on this principal gateway into Liverpool city centre will bring major highway improvements to public safety and access, for local people, commuters and visitors alike.

"The overwhelming majority of the local community who support our plans deserve to see work start in Edge Lane West on this long awaited and critically important part of the programme."

Rob Monaghan, head of gateways, Liverpool Vision, said: "The public sector partners can now begin to reshape the community and hopefully work will begin on some aspects of the scheme before the end of the calendar year."

The closing date for expressions of interest is 5 June.

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