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A582 dual-carriageway plans dropped – at least for now

Posted on - 10th March, 2024 - 8:00am | Author - | Posted in - Lostock Hall, Penwortham, Preston News, Roads, South Ribble Locations, South Ribble News, Transport
Croston Road roundabout
Croston Road roundabout

A decade-long vision to turn one of the busiest routes between South Ribble and Preston into a dual carriageway appears to have run out of road – at least for the foreseeable future.

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Plans to widen the A582 between Lostock Hall and Penwortham were first proposed back in 2013, but the scheme has been beset with funding issues and has never materialised.

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Lancashire County Council’s cabinet has now backed an alternative scheme to reduce the routine rush-hour congestion on the route, which will instead focus on upgrading some key junctions.

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The authority insists that a full dualling of the 3.2-mile stretch – which takes in Farington Road, Flensburg Way, Penwortham Way and Golden Way – remains “an aspiration”.

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However, South Ribble Borough Council leader Paul Foster says the rethink simply confirms what he had always believed – that the dual carriageway was “never going to happen”.

The district authority has long argued that the controversial Pickering’s Farm development – of more than 1,100 homes in Penwortham – should only be given the go-ahead if the dualling was done. The huge estate was finally approved in November, after a public inquiry during which the potential impact of the extra housing on the often crawling route was a key issue.

As the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) revealed back in December, Lancashire County Council has been working on what it described as “revised proposals” for the A582, based on what it said were “changes to people’s work and travel arrangements” since the pandemic, as well as local housebuilding rates.

It is that process which has culminated in the plans that have now been supported by County Hall’s Conservative cabinet – and which have an estimated price tag of £70.7m.

According to a report presented to members, the new, so-called “focussed scheme” includes “a series of major junction reconfigurations”, the introduction of “innovative technology” and “complementary improvements to bus and active travel routes”.

The work would be designed to tie-in with the wider revamp of the road network in the area as a result of the Lancashire Central industrial and retail development at Cuerden, which was given the green light in December.

County council health and wellbeing cabinet member Michael Green – who also represents the Moss Side and Farington division, through which a large part of the route runs – said he had always believed the dualling would “bring tremendous benefits”.

However, he said the reimagined scheme would “go a long way to providing a lot of the key benefits that we need”.

“There are obviously pressure points…at the key junctions, where capacity just does need to be improved – and these proposals offer a way of [doing so]… while still working towards dualling at some point in the future, which I think is important,” County Cllr Green explained.

He added that improved pedestrian and cycling facilities in the area would help “link communities which have been divided in some ways from employment opportunities [and] leisure services”.

However, deputy Labour opposition group leader Lorriane Beavers said the original ambition for the route had been “thrown to the wind”, before adding: “This is where austerity gets us all.”

“We’ve [still] got a single carriageway trying to deal with the problems [on the A582] – you need a dual carriageway all along there.

“I know you’re trying to say it’s a goodmove, but it really isn’t,” County Cllr Beavers said.

Aidy Riggott, cabinet member for economic growth and development, insisted that the new plans did not “preclude” the initial dualling project one day being released. He also said that “the world has changed” since the plans for the A582 were first put on the table in 2013.

“Traffic patterns have changed – existing and predicted – as have government priorities and the way people travel, so it’s only appropriate that we re-evaluate all schemes and ensure they’re still fit for purpose – rather than build[ing] what we thought we were going to do 10 years ago,” County Cllr Riggott said.

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What’s the big idea?

The report presented to cabinet members was light on specifics about exactly how the route would be revamped under the revised plans.

However, it does highlight the Croston Road ‘double roundabout’ – where Flensburg Way meets Farington Road – and the Stanifield Lane roundabout at the junction with Lostock Lane as two junctions in line for an upgrade. A series of other junctions surrounding the Lancashire Central development have already been identified for major reconfiguration as part of that project.

“Sustainable travel corridor improvements” along roads including Leyland Road, Coote Lane, Chain House Lane and Croston Road are also flagged up – but not fleshed out.

In the 2010s, several junctions along the A582 were upgraded to two lanes on their approaches to tackle bottlenecks – and in preparation for what was then planned to be the dualling of the entire route. The junctions at Pope Lane, Chain House Lane, Flensburg Way – the ‘tank roundabout’ – and Stanifield Lane all underwent major changes.

According to the cabinet report, the new plan “removes the need for an extended programme of design, substantial land acquisition and complex rail bridge replacements”. Creating a dual carriageway over the West Coast Mainline is thought to have been one of the key barriers to bringing the original vision to fruition.

No mention is made of making the B5253 section of Flensburg Way a dual carriageway – between the tank roundabout and the roundabout connecting Longmeanygate, Comet Road and Schleswig Way. Although separately costed, that three-quarters-of-a-mile long scheme formed part of the original A582 dualling plans, under which the Longmeanygate roundabout was also planned to be upgraded to a signal-controlled junction.

Where’s the money coming from?

An outline business case for government funding will be presented to Whitehall this spring, while the cabinet has also agreed a £19m contribution from Lancashire County Council.

The project had initially been one of four major road schemes set to be funded under the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal, three of which – the Broughton and Penwortham bypasses and the Preston Western Distributor – are all completed.

Roads reaction

South Ribble MP Katherine Fletcher hailed the new scheme as “excellent news” which would “fix the terrible tailbacks we see daily on this important A-road”.

“I look forward to millions of pounds of government money being spent to improve it. It has needed attention for many years and I am sure South Ribble locals as well as those across Lancashire will appreciate the investment in our part of the Northern Powerhouse.,” Ms. Fletcher added.

However, South Ribble leader Paul Foster told the LDRS that “everything the council said has proven correct”.

“[The dual carriageway] was unaffordable, it wasn’t going to get done and the properties were going to be changed,” he said.

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