Penwortham By-Pass Protected

A few days ago I received a letter from Lancashire County Council announcing that the route for the new stretch of by-pass in Penwortham running from the Booths roundabout to the A59 at Howick has been protected.

Plans for Penwortham By-passLast year I attended public consultations and found out the plan to build this piece of by-pass is founded on a longer term plan to build further sections linking to a new bridge over the river Ribble then to the M55 at Swill Brook.

Penwortham Link RoadThe reason there has never been a Junction 2 on the M55 (which opened in 1975) was to leave room for this new piece of by-pass. This plan has been dormant for many years and re-risen as a result of the City Deal Programme:

‘The Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal is an ambitious programme of work that builds on the strong economic performance of the area over the last ten years and will help ensure the area continues to grow by addressing major transport issues to deliver new jobs and housing. Over a ten-year period the deal will generate more than 20,000 jobs, over 17,000 homes and more importantly grow the local economy. With the funding certainty it brings, we are able to deliver these transport improvements sooner we would otherwise be able to. This means new homes and jobs can come sooner and we can reduce congestion on existing roads and improve areas for communities and road users.’

I attended a Penwortham Town Council Meeting on Monday the 7th of October where I raised concerns about the impact of the new section of by-pass on the local environment in Penwortham and the longer term plan for the Ribble bridge. This would destroy part of the Ribble’s natural coast line and Lea Marsh, a Biological Heritage Site which is home to two rare salt marsh grasses; long-stalked orache and meadow barley.

At this meeting the Town Council voted against the new route in favour of the ‘rescinded route’ which would run through Longton and would not link to a new bridge. In light of their vote I was shocked (but not surprised) when I received the letter from LCC saying the new route had been protected. LCC are preparing to submit a planning application in spring 2016 and have promised further public consultations. Should permission be granted the by-pass could be completed and opened by 2018.

The results of the questionnaire to local residents about the by-pass are revealingly vague:

‘the questionnaire you received back in September 2014 was sent to 13,000 residents… Over 1,250 residents and others interested in the road replied and only a small number were against completing Penwortham bypass by whichever choice of route. This suggests a strong degree of consensus among the local community that the bypass should be completed. As part of our consultation, the County Council presented its preferred route…’

By careful rewording relating to the completion of by-pass in general  LCC have covered up the fact that there was a large amount of opposition to the new route and they have over-ridden the vote of Penwortham Town Council and the opinions of local residents.

The letter describes the benefits of the new route including the long term plans to link to the new Ribble bridge and aims to address ‘legitimate concerns’. It also speaks of plans to improve Liverpool Road ‘the local centre of Penwortham’. This seems like a decoy and tantamount to sweeping the dust under the carpet. The destructive impact of the new by-pass can be redeemed by promoting the use of buses, walking and cycling in the town centre (???). This looks like extremely skewed logic to me.

It’s clear the destruction of local fields, the natural coastline of the Ribble and Lea Marsh need to be prevented. Is there a way to oppose the building of the new stretch of by-pass that would persuade LCC to change their minds before planning permission is granted in spring 2016? I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts on what can be done.

Natural Coastline of the river Ribble with Lea Marsh in the background

Natural Coastline of the river Ribble with Lea Marsh in the background

Completion of Penwortham By-Pass: Council Meeting and Rescinded Route

On Monday the 7th of October I attended the meeting of Penwortham Town Council for the purpose of finding out where they stood in relation to the completion of the by-pass. I was relieved to hear the majority were against the new route, which will destroy a large area of the town’s landscape with little benefit to its residents.

Another member of the public made the pertinent points that the plans were lacking in adequate data, it wouldn’t stop traffic travelling through Penwortham and would cause further severance between Penwortham, Longton and Hutton. I raised the issue of the environmental effects.

Penwortham Town Council decided they would a second response to Lancashire County Council that they wanted to reaffirm the ‘blue’ rescinded route rather than the new ‘brown’ proposed one. All of this is recorded in the latest minutes (1).

One of the reasons behind the planning of the new route was that it wouldn’t destroy any homes (the rescinded route destroys five) and it would cause less damage to the landscape. However, the functionality of the new route depends on the building of another stretch of road and bridge over the Ribble that will destroy an area of natural coastline then run through Lea Marsh, a Biological Heritage site.

I’ve walked the rescinded route from Broad Oak Roundabout to where it would join the A59 at a new roundabout between Saunders Lane and Chapel Lane.

Penwortham, Preston, By-pass and city deal 024 - CopyIt cuts across farmland and divides Lindle Lane…

Lindle Lane…splits this public footpath…

Public Footpath…then destroys Moor Cottages and runs through Bamfords Wood…

Moor Cottages….at the end of Park Avenue it will destroy more houses and cause noise pollution for Bramble Rest Home…

Bramble Rest Home, Park Avenue….a mini-roundabout will be built on Chapel Lane

Chapel Lane…here it will join the A59…

A59It is clear that the costs will by far outweigh the benefits. I can’t see any reason why people would use this piece of road rather the A59 at all, even at peak times as they’d only get caught up in the congestion headed for Golden Way.

In my reply to the public consultation I have to objected to the building of both roads on account of them causing unneccessary damage to the environment, separating communities and on account of the fact that sufficient data hasn’t been provide to suggest either will be effective or work better than improvements to footpaths, cycleways and public transport.

(1) Penwortham Town Council Minutes, 7th October 2014, p4402 http://www.penworthamtowncouncil.gov.uk/reports_minutes.html