Time to think big on Lancashire's transport infrastructure
It’s great to see Lancashire growing and planning for its long-term future.
I can’t recall a time where so much investment has been made in such a short space of time. The Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal is a great example of long-term strategic thinking on housing, employment and transport. However, despite the plans for a glut of new road building projects under City Deal, I believe an underlying lack of investment in public transport infrastructure is a key obstacle to realising the full potential for growth in Lancashire.
High quality transit-oriented development, with frequent reliable public transport links to other places people live and work, is the goal if we are to provide a more sustainable and economically buoyant future. In Lancashire, the urban conurbations and their peripheral areas, where most new growth would be expected to occur, suffer from relatively poor public transit infrastructure. Is it possible to recreate in Lancashire the mass transit systems seen in the largest conurbations, like Manchester, or do we continue to ‘double down’ on new roads to feed the private car?
Blackpool has its legacy tram system which has seen recent significant investment. Perhaps it is time for other Lancashire conurbations to build on this experience and be at the vanguard of pioneering small-scale tram solutions.
Such schemes are likely to be able to leverage private ‘green bank’ funding and avoid the cumbersome public-led solutions that have proved so costly in other towns and cities in the UK. Land use planning can play a key role in encouraging such opportunities and we remain ready to support transport operators, forward-thinking businesses, and our local authorities in making this a reality.
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