CONTROVERSIAL bus lanes could be created in Chorley as part of a £275 million transformation of transport in Central Lancashire.
The town has been ear-marked for two of eight proposed ‘priority corridors’ which could be created as part of a new Public Transport Priority Network.
The routes from Chorley through Cuerden and Bamber Bridge to Preston city centre, and Chorley, Euxton, Buckshaw Village and Leyland have been included in a masterplan unveiled by Lancashire County Council.
It claims that ‘several’ of the proposed routes could see space reallocated to public transport and the induction of more ‘bus-only lanes’ to improve reliability and speed up journeys.
The document also reveals proposals to finally extend parking at Chorley’s railway station as well as major improvements across the county, including at Preston and Leyland railway stations.
The authority is now calling on residents to have their say at a consultation event being held in Chorley next month, and Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle has warned a full impact study is crucial before any plans are set in stone.
County Coun Tim Ashton, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “As Central Lancashire is at the heart of the county’s economic growth and development, it is important for the economic future of the county that the road network and public transport services in this area work well to move people and goods around Lancashire and to the rest of the country.
“It is absolutely critical that we upgrade the transport network in Central Lancashire so that we remain competitive as a region and to make sure we can cope with the extra demands caused by the expected increase in housing and jobs.
“This is a hugely important consultation and an excellent opportunity for anyone with an interest in Central Lancashire to express their views on the options.”
Coun Ashton said the council’s preferred approach’ would involved building and widening roads to support new development.
He added: “By creating extra road space, we would be able to make room for new development, make far more wide-reaching public transport improvements and manage the highway network more effectively.
“In those areas we target, we will also be able to make our streets and public spaces much more pleasant places to spend time in, and in turn prioritise and promote walking and cycling as the modes of choice.”
The eight public transport priority corridors would link Chorley, Leyland and Preston to the main housing and employment areas.
The two Chorley routes are included in the first six proposed for development as ‘priority corridors.’
The 37-page document claims that bus lanes will be an ‘integral’ part of the improvements.
Reacting to the proposals, Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle said: “We need to find out if buses in Chorley are actually delayed as a matter of routine and what impact this has as the proposed bus lanes may not only cause disruption, but be a complete waste of money.
“We also need to find out what impact they will have on motorists and other people who use the roads, and consult with the people who rely on public transport and find out if we do really need them.
“A full impact study is important.”
County Hall’s head of planning, Marcus Hudson added: “Our calculations show that if we do not make any major improvements, by 2026 Central Lancashire’s transport network would no longer be able to cope with the extra demands placed on it by the expected increase in the number of people and levels of economic growth.
“The real danger is that the lack of extra capacity in our roads slows or stalls growth and development across the area, or leads to development pressures growing in other unsuitable locations.”
The consultation event will run from 10am to 6pm on February 4 and will be held at St Mary’s RC Community Centre in West Street.
For more information and an online survey, visit www.lancashire.gov.uk and search for Local Transport Plan.