Work is due to start in May on construction of the M55 Heyhouses Link road, which Lancashire County Council has said will bring jobs, housing and investment to the Fylde coast.
Lancashire County Council, Fylde Borough Council and the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership have announced that the land and funding needed to deliver the M55 Heyhouses Link Road is now in place, and work is underway to let a contract to build the road.
The £27m road scheme will improve access between Lytham St Annes and the M55, relieve congestion on smaller local roads, and support the commercial viability of local housing and business development sites.
The scheme is one of ten ‘shovel ready’ projects across the county to receive support as part of the Getting Building Fund to speed up construction in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
The road will provide much better access between the M55 motorway and existing employment areas in Lytham and St Annes, with the improved link to the coast also supporting the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone and the area’s vital leisure and tourism industry. In addition, Wild Lane on the northern section will connect into existing bridleways and become a route for pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians to enjoy its use. On the southern section, the road will have a parallel footway/cycleway. Together these will provide a continuous sustainable transport corridor along the whole length of the new road.
The link road will connect the existing roundabout at Whitehills Road to the north with Heyhouses Lane near the Cypress Point development site to the south. Work to ‘preload’ the ground for the new road will begin in May and construction will follow when the ground has stabilised. The link road project is expected to take around 30 months to complete. United Utilities and Electricity Northwest have been working at the site since March to protect and divert existing utilities, with this preparation phase expected to be completed in May.
County Councillor Keith Iddon, deputy leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “Journey times and reliability are crucial for securing additional investment into this area, and the new link road is key to facilitate future growth of the Fylde coast economy.
“Access from Lytham St Annes to the M55 is currently indirect for most people, with congestion in a number of places where existing roads are already nearing full capacity. I know residents and businesses have been looking forward to this project getting underway for some years.
“We have been working closely with a number of public partners and landowners to bring together the land and funding needed to deliver the scheme. Officers are now finalising contracts to allow work to start on site in May and agree a programme for construction.”
Councillor Karen Buckley, leader of Fylde Borough Council, said: “Fylde Council has worked tirelessly with Lancashire County Council to finally make this happen and I am grateful for their commitment, and also for our MP, Mark Menzies, who has fully supported the scheme over a number of years.
“At the outset of negotiations, recognising the importance of the link road, Fylde Council pledged significant financial support and officer time. To see it finally underway will be a huge relief to our residents and the tangible benefits to the local community will assist our post-Covid recovery.”
David Taylor DL CBE, chair of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: “This funding provided via the LEP will unlock homes, create new jobs and deliver investment in commercial and green spaces, and give a much-needed boost to the local economy.
“This project will also improve connectivity to the nearby Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone, making it more attractive to businesses and helping to secure further inward investment to the Fylde Coast.”
Fylde MP Mark Menzies said: “This is the culmination of 10 years of campaigning. At the start of the process I was told it was all too difficult and unlikely ever to be achieved, but I lobbied Highways England, Homes England, the Prime Minister and Chancellor to secure a great deal of that funding, alongside the real drive and funding from Lancashire County and Fylde Councils.
“I cannot wait for the day we can drive across this road and see the benefits it will bring to the economic development of the area.”
The announcement means that all legal contracts and funding are in place to deliver the link road. This is a complicated scheme which has been progressing for many years, and Lancashire County Council, as the highways authority and sponsor of the scheme, is grateful for the full support of all neighbouring landowners, in particular Kensington Developments Limited and Home Farm (Lytham) Limited, where land has been secured through their agreement. The county council would also like to thank landowners adjacent to the route of the new road for their agreement to provide working space to make construction easier.