Local leaders have met to celebrate the start of construction on a major new road which will improve travel on the Fylde coast and bring new jobs, housing and investment to the area.
Work is now underway on the M55 to Heyhouses Link Road which is expected to open in early 2024.
The scheme will improve access between Lytham St Annes and the M55, relieve congestion on smaller local roads, and support the commercial viability of local housing and business development sites.
Local partners have been working hard over recent years to bring together the funding needed for the road, with a contract being agreed in March after the project became one of ten ‘shovel ready’ schemes across the county to receive support as part of the Getting Building Fund to speed up construction in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
The road will provide much better access between the M55 motorway and existing employment areas in Lytham and St Annes, with the improved link to the coast also supporting the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone and the area’s vital leisure and tourism industry. In addition, Wild Lane on the northern section will connect into existing bridleways and become a route for pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians to enjoy its use. On the southern section, the road will have a parallel footway/cycleway. Together these will provide a continuous sustainable transport corridor along the whole length of the new road.
The link road will connect the existing roundabout at Whitehills Road to the north with Heyhouses Lane near the Cypress Point development site to the south.
The first phase of the project involves around 18-months of earthworks to prepare the ground for the new road, being carried out by Duo Operations. The road will then be constructed by Lancashire County Council’s in-house team.
Wild Lane and part of North Houses Lane, single track roads which were closed a number of years ago, will be reopened as a shared path for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders, providing a safe route away from the new road.
The road is being funded thanks to contributions from or managed through the Department for Transport, Highways England, the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Lancashire County Council, Fylde Borough Council, Kensington Developments Ltd, and other developers.
County Councillor Charlie Edwards, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “Lancashire County Council believes this road will make a huge difference to travel in this area, and is vital to ensure the creation of jobs and homes for local people with the future development which will now be able to take place.
“I know that residents and businesses have been anticipating this moment for many years, and I’m very pleased to be able to say that we’re getting on with delivering those better journey times and reduced congestion which the link road will bring.
“The project board for this scheme represents a number of local partners, and it has taken an enormous amount of determination from them to secure the land and funding needed to get us to this point.
“I’d also like to thank all the neighbouring landowners for their support and cooperation in allowing us to secure the land needed for the road, and the access which will make construction easier.
“My thanks also to all of the Councillors and local organisations for working together to deliver this for our residents.”
Councillor Karen Buckley, leader of Fylde Borough Council, said: “As County Councillor Edwards says, there has been enormous determination shown by local leaders to get to the point of contractors finally being on site to build this much needed road.
“Since the road collapsed in 2013 and was closed as a through route to Whitehills roundabout there have been three different Leaders of Fylde Council and yet this priority has never been off the table.
“Reaching agreement between so many interested parties with competing priorities proved challenging and some local residents, understandably, voiced a view that they did not believe the project was happening until they saw it with their own eyes. I am relieved we are now at that point and the years of negotiations, lobbying and bid-writing has borne fruit.”
David Taylor CBE DL, Chair of Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: “The LEP is proud to be backing this project, which not only provides an important transport link but which will also improve access to the nearby Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone and unlock vital local jobs and homes on the Fylde.
“I know a lot of local effort has gone in to making this project happen, and it is great that £5.79m of funding from the Getting Building Fund – provided by the LEP – has been decisive in getting this project across the line and allowing us to be breaking ground on site.”
Fylde MP Mark Menzies said: “At last, we can see works on the M55 link road under way.
“Lancashire County Council stepped up to the mark and Fylde Council doubled its contribution to the project to get it done. I lobbied ministers including the Chancellor and Prime Minister to secure Government funding and our vital link road is now being built.
“What we must remember is that this much more than just a road; it will help unlock the economic potential of St Annes and Lytham for many years to come.”
Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, Luke Hall MP said: “I am thrilled that a £5.79 million Getting Building Fund investment will help kickstart construction to improve access between Lytham and the M55.
“This project will help to relieve congestion on smaller local roads and provide more opportunities for housing and business developments in the area, making it a more attractive place to live, work and visit.”
Kristian Marsh, Highways England’s route manager for the M55, said: “We are pleased to be able to support the delivery of this long desired local highway scheme with a £4.78 million contribution from our Growth and Housing Fund.
“It’s a great example of partnership across many organisations that will help unlock the development of new homes and the creation of new jobs. We are also delighted to be able to support a project which will see a reduction in congestion locally, improve access and provide better facilities for pedestrians and cyclists.”
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