City deal has created jobs and homes

It's just over a year since the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal was launched, and the first stages of work have already brought benefits to the area.

CityDealNew sections of road have been built, Preston's main shopping area has been improved, new housing developments are going ahead and plans are well under way to improve local centres, all as part of this £370m programme of investment in new and improved infrastructure - including new roads, schools, and open space - to support the area's growth.

The City Deal was officially launched in June last year by Lord Heseltine, following agreement between Preston City Council, South Ribble Borough Council and Lancashire County Council, along with central government and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

Its aim is to open up job opportunities, improve travel times and create great places for families to live.

Jim Carter, chair of the City Deal, said: "In the relatively short space of time since it was launched, people are already benefiting from these plans, with much more to come.

"Thanks to the City Deal, central Lancashire will be transformed over the next few years, growing the local economy by over £1bn and making it an even better place to live and work. It will create more than 20,000 new jobs and more than 17,000 new homes.

"As well as planning for future developments, people will see immediate benefits from the work that's been taking place, including shorter journey times, less congestion and improved safety for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

"This is already a great place to live and work. And thanks to the City Deal, it's about to get even better."

Communities secretary Greg Clark MP said: “This City Deal is providing huge opportunities for people in Lancashire and is already improving local road links. It demonstrates how the strengths of an area can be harnessed by local councils and businesses working positively with the Government to boost the local economy.

“We are determined to rebalance the economy and create a Northern Powerhouse. By investing in infrastructure and skills this deal is ensuring the area has the tools it needs to thrive, on top of providing the jobs and homes that will benefit many people locally."

The most visible signs of the work that's already taken place are along the A582 in South Ribble, which links the centre of Preston to the motorway network, where junctions are being improved and sections of road widened to create a dual-carriageway, as part of £45m improvement plans for this road.

Improving the A582 is reducing congestion and making it much easier for people to get around, while supporting planned new development in the area and encouraging economic growth.

According to comments from the public, travel times into the city centre at peak times have already reduced by around 10 to 15 minutes.

In 2014/15, 980 houses were completed across all of the City Deal housing sites. This includes 98 empty homes brought back into use, and 215 office units converted for residential use.

And work is continuing to regenerate Preston city centre, with the first phase of improvements to Fishergate completed, and the second £6m phase of improvements underway, as well as the recently announced plans for Preston Bus Station.

A new market and cinema development have been proposed for the centre of Preston, replacing the current markets and overhauling a key city centre site with new commercial space. Alongside the projects already underway, work is continuing on further plans as part of the City Deal that will make it easier for people to get around, provide new job opportunities and new homes.