Thursday, February 04, 2016

Transport Strategy puts county at heart of the Northern Powerhouse

New Transport Prospectus outlines how major investments in rail and road initiatives could create 15,000 new jobs and generate £685m in new economic growth

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The Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has today (February 4th) published its latest Strategic Transport Prospectus (PDF 3MB) which sets out the opportunities for Lancashire with regards to unlocking substantial economic potential via better transport connectivity.

The Prospectus highlights how through better transport links Lancashire can take full advantage of the government’s aspirations for a thriving Northern Powerhouse, and maximise the benefits offered by the county’s proximity to the North’s key city-regions.

The 48-page report, entitled Lancashire – as part of interconnected and productive northern powerhouse, outlines the LEP’s national, regional and local transport priorities in the short, medium and long term and conveys the LEP’s vision of a physically connected and economically integrated Lancashire.

The Prospectus also shows through detailed analysis that if the ambitious programme being put forward by the LEP was fully realised it could create 15,000 net new jobs and would contribute an additional £685m GVA a year to the UK economy.

With regards to rail the report outlines how the government’s proposals for HS2 and HS3 could transform Lancashire’s role as a gateway to the whole of the North, and further how the and regeneration of Preston Rail Station could stimulate substantial economic activity across the entire region.

For example by 2037, HS2 could generate the equivalent of £600m additional economic impact (at today’s prices) and create around 3,000 new jobs. Such a high speed rail link could also help attract up to 75,000 additional visitors (net) annually, which in turn could add some £3.3m to the local economy each year.

Similarly it has been calculated that an expanded and modernised Preston Rail Station could create a total of 7,850 jobs and £324m in GVA over the coming decades.

Lancashire’s Transport Prospectus illustrates how faster and more frequent journeys between Lancashire’s main conurbations and between Lancashire’s towns and cities to Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds, could substantially increase levels of inward investment, create jobs and boost the number of inbound and outbound commuters.

Other rail proposals put forward include improved services to and from a number of Lancashire’s hinterland towns, and several major electrification schemes which would greatly improve inter-county connectivity.

Road priorities include all the major motorways which traverse Lancashire including specific stretches and junctions of the M6, M61, M65, M66 and M55.

In addition many major artery roads in Lancashire, including those that are crucial to access areas such as Blackpool, South Fylde, Fleetwood and Lancaster, are highlighted as requiring improvement together with proposals on how to improve traffic flow, reduce congestion and alleviate ‘pinch points’ throughout Lancashire. Another major road scheme outlined includes a potential new River Ribble crossing, to link together the Preston Western Distributor and the South Ribble Western Distributor roads.

The Transport Prospectus will now be presented to central government and used to help leverage additional funding to support the LEP’s overarching Strategic Economic Plan and build on the success of City Deal and Growth Plan which the LEP helped to secure and is delivering major economic and transport schemes in all parts of the County.

The LEP also intends to use the report as way to clearly make the case for Lancashire as a major player in the Northern Powerhouse initiative, with the Prospectus highlighting Lancashire’s substantial untapped economic potential which can be unlocked through better strategic transport links. It also emphasises how Lancashire occupies a unique geographical positon in the North West, and can act as a gateway to whole of the North of England and Scotland.

The Prospectus will be regularly reviewed by the LEP and local authority partners to ensure new schemes critical to Lancashire's long-term economic success are identified and included.

Jennifer Mein, Leader of Lancashire County Council and Chair of Transport for Lancashire, the LEP’s strategic body for the delivery of transport policy, said: “This is the most extensive and ambitious transport plan Lancashire has ever put forward. It conveys not only the key transport priorities and needs of the county in order to deliver sustainable growth but also reflects the LEP’s vision for Lancashire as a region that is fully integrated, both physically and economically. This document is also fundamentally about Lancashire’s evidenced case-making to support more and better connectivity as a means to improve our access and economic influence over the Northern Powerhouse as a whole.

“It recognises that all parts of Lancashire are crucial to its long term prosperity, which is why in addition to national and regional priorities the Transport Prospectus includes detailed local plans to address the economic needs of specific towns and areas. Such interlinked factors are at the heart of the government’s vision for a more connected and more productive North, and it is one which Lancashire wholeheartedly embraces.”

Edwin Booth, Chair of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: “This report clearly shows how both existing and new funding for transport interventions will help us unlock a significant number of new jobs, new housing and new commercial development in Lancashire. It also builds on the fantastic investment the LEP has already helped to secure via initiatives such as the City Deal and the Growth Deal, and further sends a clear signal to both government and our northern neighbours about Lancashire’s ambition, appetite and determination to play a key role in the north’s economic prosperity.”

John Cridland, Independent Chair of Transport for the North (TfN) said: “There is much to do to improve transport capacity and links across the north and making this happen requires an ambitious vision at both a pan-northern and local level. For the first time, TfN brings together the whole of the north to speak with one voice on the big transport decisions to benefit the region as a whole, building towards the creation of the Northern Powerhouse. We welcome Lancashire’s Transport Prospectus and see it as a clear commitment to our vision and look forward to working closely with Transport for Lancashire and the LEP to build on existing strengths and ensure that every part of the north benefits in the development of the Northern Transport Strategy.”

Image shows:

Front row (L to R) The leader of Lancashire County Council and Chair of Transport for Lancashire Jennifer Mein and the Chief Executive of Transport for the North David Brown.

Back row (L to R) The Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council Cllr Mohammed Khan OBE and Blackpool Council Cabinet Member for Municipal Assets Councillor Fred Jackson.