A multi-million pound scheme to improve Hyndburn transport links and create a new state-of-the-art bus station has been submitted to the government for final approval.
The £40 million Pennine Reach scheme will herald the biggest transformation in the town centre for decades and aims to improve transport links between Hyndburn, Blackburn and Darwen.
Work could begin as soon as September with a new ten-lane Accrington bus station set to welcome passengers by Autumn 2015.
Other major changes will also be brought into Great Harwood, Clayton-le-Moors, Rishton and Church.
County councillor Tim Ashton, who is cabinet member for highways, last week gave final approval from county hall for the submission with government funding expected to be given this summer.
Coun Ashton said it was ‘brilliant news’ for Hyndburn and will create more jobs and reduce traffic congestion.
He told the Observer: “It’s fantastic how much the government are willing to invest and it is a vote of confidence for East Lancashire. I don’t foresee any problems at all and I would think the decision will be made in a short period of time. We have gone through a very long process and I can’t wait to see it begin.”
Hyndburn MP Graham Jones is ‘delighted’ with the progress made. He said: “Accrington needs a new bus station. I know the location isn’t agreeable to everyone. “Nonetheless the investment that is going into the bus station and town and places like Great Harwood and in public transport overall is welcome.”
Under the proposals the new Accrington bus station will be sited on the former Kwik Save car park at Crawshaw Street. Great Harwood’s Towngate will see a £400,000 transformation with a new bus stop, traditional bus shelter, tree planters and seating.
In Rishton the original plans have been modified to no longer include a bus lane along Blackburn Road on approach to the High Street and Harwood Road junction. Rishton ward councillor Ken Moss said he welcomed the scheme.
He said: “There will be a much needed pedestrianisation of Eachill junction which is a terrible spot for both cars and pedestrians.
“It’s something we have been screaming for years and we could do with it being sorted sooner rather than later.”
Parking restrictions in Oswaldtwistle have been watered down but other major elements remain, including new roundabouts at the Church Gateway and a bus lane on King Street, from Albion Street towards Accrington.
The controversial Pennine Reach scheme was first proposed in 2008.