Economic development and infrastructure schemes are planned for Lancashire, bringing thousands of new jobs, investment, skills and economic growth.
Like elsewhere in the country, while the county’s economy has been affected by the impact of Covid, brighter times are ahead according to the senior councillor who is responsible for economic development, planning and environment.
The county council is proactively working with a wider range of public and private sector partners to develop several major schemes in Lancashire that will kickstart its economy, strengthen resilience and provide opportunities for new and emerging business sectors, while also creating jobs in the county.
This is all part of the county council’s objective to re-position the county and help to drive our communities back to economic health.
As the local economy starts to bounce back, more businesses can re-open again and national Covid restrictions are lifted, these strategically significant major investment projects will be an important part of this.
County Councillor Michael Green, Cabinet member for economic development, environment and planning, said: “Lancashire has the second largest economy in the north west, and there’s still a lot of potential here. We’re working hard with our various partners to unlock this growth, bring major developments to fruition and importantly create jobs for local people.
“With several significant schemes being developed there’ll be opportunities for companies to be part of vital supply chains and construction activity, and importantly in the creation of new jobs.
“Lots of businesses in the county have had a tough time due to the impact of Covid, but we’re now seeing brighter times ahead. As more places start to be able to re-open, we’ll start to see our economy improve much more.
“New opportunities will appear as these proposed economic schemes develop and provide a platform for accelerated growth. The county council is leading on several regionally and nationally-significant schemes, which will shape and transform the identity of Lancashire for many years to come.”
At the Samlesbury Enterprise Zone, located next to BAE Systems, a site that will deliver over 2,000 jobs and up to 1.5m square feet of development space, the county council has been working closely with its partners to facilitate and enable development.
The county council has delivered the majority of the site’s current access infrastructure and plot preparation works, during challenging weather conditions at times and the Covid-19 pandemic.
BAE Systems have also invested significantly in the site with new manufacturing and high-tech facilities, including the Academy for Skills and Knowledge.
There’s been excellent progress on the construction of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre North West. This is another significant occupier, which will anchor the Research & Development ‘zone’ on the site.
The £20m AMRC North West, led by the University of Sheffield and supported by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, will provide world-class business support to position Lancashire as a leader in innovation-driven, sustainable economic growth and will act as a catalyst for further inward investment. This new facility will help to accelerate manufacturing growth, supporting the supply chains in the region to drive up productivity sustaining manufacturing in the North West.
To help unlock other parts of the site, Electricity North West Limited has invested several million pounds to improve the infrastructure for the electricity network including a new primary substation which will support and unlock the development of this site. Other activity is also underway to deliver site-wide infrastructure, working with a wide range of public and private sector partners. There is already very strong interest from manufacturers, innovation and high-technology companies.
Councillor Green added: “Infrastructure Planning across Lancashire as a whole is a key ingredient to assist with economic growth. There are a range of other important pieces of work being progressed to help better plan for the future and to assist in Lancashire’s growth and prosperity ”
Elsewhere in Lancashire, other important economic growth activity is also taking place.
The Eden Project North is a proposed major new attraction in Morecambe, that seeks to reimagine the British seaside resort for the 21st century. Conversations are continuing with Government for support towards the project.
Eden Project North, along with partners including the county council, are currently preparing a planning application, which is due to be submitted later this year.
The business case shows that this project is projected to attract around one million visitors a year and directly employ more than 400 people. In addition to money spent at Eden itself, visitors could spend an estimated £200m per year in the region, supporting an additional 1,500 jobs.
Following the government’s announcement last year of £140 million from the Government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund for the South Lancaster Growth Catalyst, proposals are being put together to address existing transport constraints and unlock significant development opportunities in the north of the county.
Preparatory work is continuing to develop a mixed-use site known as Lancashire Central next to the M65 motorway, near Bamber Bridge, working with developer partner Maple Grove Developments – part of the Eric Wright Group. This is one of the largest mixed-use employment sites in the North West and could deliver thousands of jobs and provide much-needed industrial and logistics accommodation for new and existing businesses.
Construction continues on the Preston Western Distributor road scheme, which is due to open in 2023. A major scheme for the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal, it will create a new junction on the M55 and new access on the western parts of the city, and enable the delivery of a Cottam Parkway railway station. It will improve access in and around the wider Preston area by improving journey times to key employment sites and the city centre.
Other recent business park and property developments include the completion of Fraser House in Lancaster, a new co-worker space at the council’s White Cross Business Park. Aimed at the growing digital and technology sector, the investment in this building will capture the wave of new technology companies starting up and growing in the city.
The county council has also made a significant investment at Lancashire Business Park to provide eight new industrial units known as Sumner Point. This is a range of industrial and warehouse units, between 3,000 and 36,300 square feet. This work has been completed by Eric Wright Construction, part of the Eric Wright Group, who are the council’s strategic property partner.
The county council recognises the importance of the zero-carbon agenda. Following a resolution in December 2020, the council is working to explore a range of opportunities at its strategic sites, working with partners to deliver innovation.
For example, at the Enterprise Zone site at Samlesbury, the county council will be working on a range of environmental and sustainable technologies alongside the 2,000 trees which have been planted, to benefit the local environment.