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New town bus station comes closer to reality

PLANS to create a state-of-the-art bus station in Accrington have taken a step forward after they were approved for funding by Lancashire County Council.

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PLANS to create a state-of-the-art bus station in Accrington have taken a step forward after they were approved for funding by Lancashire County Council.

Cabinet members recommended that the bus station scheme be allocated a share of £1.25M in capital funding at a meeting earlier this month.

They also asked for the designs to be developed as a "priority project" so that work can start by 2006, at the beginning of the next Local Transport Plan period.

Under the plans, which were unveiled last month by the Accrington Town Centre Regeneration Board, the new indoor bus station would be built on land bordered by Union Street, Edgar Street and School Street.

The site is currently a three-hour disc car park with nearly 100 spaces, and some surrounding buildings would have to be demolished before work could begin.

During a meeting of Hyndburn Council's Bus Forum last week, members and bus operators discussed what effect the station would have on other traffic and how any potential problems could be addressed.

They said that buses would have to be carefully managed to avoid traffic backing up on to the Viaduct roundabout and suggested that there should be other bus stops placed throughout the town centre.

There were also concerns about whether the site would be big enough to cope with future demand and that the proposals didn't take into account the need to regenerate the surrounding area.

Mr David Law, traffic and transportation manager for Hyndburn Council, said that the plans were at an early stage and they would need to look into some of the issues raised in further detail.

But he added: "It is a real possibility with real prospects of funding. It is potentially a goer where alternative sites may not have been."

He said that there could be other sources of funding open to them to allow the work to go ahead, including cash from regeneration agencies.

The plans were put together by architect Roman Strzala, who was originally commissioned to look at how the cramped bus station in Peel Street could be improved.

But he felt there was little scope for development there and found that the new site would be capable of handling more buses, as well as being safer for pedestrians and closer to the railway station.