Next stage for major Â£100m bid for transport and road improvements in Lancaster
Major infrastructure plans to support new homes in Lancaster and the development of Lancaster University, including the new Health Innovation Campus, have received approval to be taken to the next stage.
Lancashire County Council submitted a bid for £100m from the Government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) Forward Fund towards transport infrastructure improvements in South Lancaster.
These proposals will now move to the ‘co-development’ stage, where government officials will work with the council to further develop the bid and assess the project in more detail.
The HIF Forward Fund would support a range of transport infrastructure initiatives, including a bus rapid transit network and dedicated cycle route between South Lancaster and the city centre, along with other improvements to address flood and drainage risks.
Wider improvements would also include a re-configured Junction 33, enabling residents and businesses in South Lancaster to access the motorway network without needing to travel through either the city centre or Galgate.
The proposals are designed to support delivery of the Health Innovation Campus and the wider expansion plans of Lancaster University, as well as the Garden Village at Bailrigg.
This bid from the county council was made with support from Lancaster City Council, Lancaster University and the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership.
County Councillor Geoff Driver CBE, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “It’s great news that the county council has been successful in the latest stage of this process.
“This is not a guarantee of funding for the project, but it is an indication from the Government of the strength and quality of our bid.
“These are ambitious plans for Lancaster, which will benefit many people who live and work in the district.
“In particular, the changes to the motorway junction will help to reduce congestion at the crossroads in Galgate, which we know is a longstanding local issue.
“Detailed plans take time to get right and we’ll need to bring together the necessary funding, but this is an important step forward.”
County Councillor Michael Green, cabinet member for economic development, environment and planning, said: “This is an important opportunity to capitalise on the growth opportunities that Lancaster has to offer.
“This is a key milestone for our plans, which would make Lancaster integral to the future economic growth of the county, and help us to unlock the potential for growth across the city.
“The Health Innovation Campus will bring together innovators, academics, entrepreneurs, businesses, local government, citizens and health care providers.
“This has big potential to create a world-class centre of excellence, and it’s vital that the county council does what it can to support the opportunities that it will bring.
“It’s also vital for economic growth that we have a good supply of housing.
“As cities grow and new jobs are created, more homes are needed to meet the demand.
“It’s a sign of an area that is developing and growing.”
The HIF is a new £4.1 billion national infrastructure investment programme designed to unlock the delivery of up to 400,000 new homes in areas of high demand in England.
Housing Secretary Sajid Javid said: “This Government is committed to working with communities to build the homes this country needs and ensure the right infrastructure is in place to support them.
“We will now be working closely with 45 areas shortlisted to apply for government investment. These key projects will help unlock more much needed homes by delivering the roads, schools and doctor’s surgeries that communities need.”
The plans for the Garden Village are currently being developed by Lancaster City Council, with opportunities for public consultation as part of the planning process.
As part of the wider plans for this part of the city, significant growth deal funds have already been secured to re-configure Junction 33 on the M6 to support new housing and employment growth opportunities, including the new Health Innovation Campus at Lancaster University.
The changes to Junction 33 would remove the need to travel from the city through Galgate to access the motorway.