Plans to relocate Accrington’s bus station have been given the green light.
The Secretary of State has approved the £6.4m scheme to create a new bus station in Crawshaw Street after a public enquiry.
But traders have claimed the scheme could ‘devastate’ large parts of Accrington, sucking trade away from Peel Street, Warner Street and the east of the town centre.
Protestors collected a 300-name petition against the bus station relocation and also raised concerns about parking.
A two-day public inquiry into whether the scheme should go ahead was held at Accrington Town Hall in June.
Council bosses defended the plans saying the current station was in need of an upgrade, and that relocation would have significant and long lasting community benefits.
The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has now confirmed that a compulsory purchase order will go ahead.
Lancashire County Council bosses say work on the Accrington site is scheduled to begin early next year and be completed by April 2016.
John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport, said the development will drive regeneration and attract new investment.
He said: “Pennine Reach is one of our key priorities for east Lancashire and I’m pleased at the decision by the Secretary of State to allow the compulsory purchase of the land needed to deliver the new Accrington bus station.
“The new bus station will provide comfortable and modern facilities and make using public transport a far more attractive option.
“Pennine Reach has always been more than a public transport scheme and the bus station will also help to drive regeneration in Accrington and Hyndburn as a whole and attract new investment to the area.”
The bus station project is part of a £40m Pennine Reach Scheme to improve transport links between Hyndburn and Blackburn. The new Accrington bus station is estimated to cost £6.4m, including anticipated cost of land to be acquired, third party costs and compensation.