Consultation to start on future of transport in West Lancashire

Lancashire County Council has unveiled an ambitious and wide-ranging vision to transform the transport network in West Lancashire over the coming decades.

Lancashire County CouncilAn eight week consultation will start next month on the plan, which sets out options for major improvements to highways, public transport and walking and cycling facilities to ensure the district can realise its potential for economic growth and avoid its distinctive rural character being spoiled.

Lancashire County Council is producing a set of five Highways and Transport Masterplans to cover all 12 districts of Lancashire and, where necessary, neighbouring areas, to begin to make the case for multi-million pound investments in the transport i! nfrastructure needed to support future housing and business development.

Proposals in the Highways and Transport Master Plan for West Lancashire include:
  • Linking Skelmersdale to the rail network with a new rail station and bus interchange in the town centre.
  • Transform the way people in Skelmersdale travel by redesigning roads, removing underpasses and making it easier for people to walk, cycle and use public transport within the town and to access wider job opportunities.
  • Creating better cycling and walking links between Skelmersdale and Ormskirk, building on existing plans for a linear park along the former railway line.
  • A dedicated cycling and walking link between Burscough and Ormskirk to provide a direct off-road route via a new linear park.
  • Tackle congestion in Ormskirk town centre, building on options outlined in a recent study to manage and reduce traffic, focused on making walking and cycling ! more attractive options, including a new and innovative cycle hire sch eme.
  • A complementary route management plan would realise the potential of a new Thornton to Switch Island link road in Sefton to provide a better route for traffic travelling between the M58 and Southport.
  • Investigate options and prepare a business case for electrification of the Ormskirk to Preston railway line to fulfil its potential as a commuter route.
  • Complete the proposed Tarleton Green Lane Link road by the end of 2016 to reduce HGV traffic through the village.
  • Investigate options to ensure access to services from rural areas.
The proposals to connect Skelmersdale to the rail network and to reshape the town's streets and public spaces, including the current walking and cycling network, will revitalise the town, allowing it to become a transport and economic driver for West Lancashire as a whole.

Positioning Skelmersdale to take full advantage of the opportunities presented by the Liverpool Superport will be fundamental to this work, allowing the town to benefit from economic opportunities and extra jobs by being part of the Superport.

Key to delivering proposals outlined in the Highways and Transport Master Plan for West Lancashire will be to seek consensus on them with residents, parish councils, West Lancashire District Council and partner organisations responsible for transport infrastructure.

Further work can then take place to make the business case for improvements, ensuring the county council is ready to capitalise on future opportunities to secure funding.

The approach builds on that used to secure major investment in central Lancashire through the Preston City Deal, which won support from government and the development industry by showing the potential for economic growth achieved via long term improvements in transport infrastructure.

Funding for major transport schemes is being devolved from the government to local enterprise partnerships, p! resenting a huge opportunity to tackle some of the issues which will o therwise hold our economy back.

County Councillor John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "West Lancashire has many economic strengths. It has a thriving agricultural industry, is a hive for lifelong learning, and Skelmersdale is well-located to capitalise on opportunities for inward investment and developments such as the Liverpool Superport.

"West Lancashire's transport network largely functions well but there are a number of outstanding issued which need to be solved in order for the district to grow in a way that is in keeping with its character and heritage."