Blackburn road widening will revive medipark scheme and bring jobs

A MAJOR road-widening scheme to cut traffic jams into Blackburn is set to create nearly 4,000 jobs including resurrecting plans for a hi-tech medical park next to the town’s hospital. The revival of the scheme was revealed as approval for the financing of the GBP11.5million upgrade of Haslingden Road came a step closer. On Thursday the Transport for Lancashire Committee of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership agreed to recommend the final approval of the LEP’s GBP9m contribution to widening the main traffic artery between Blackburn town centre and M65 Junction 5 and the Grane Road to its next board meeting on February 10.

Documents submitted with the application revealed that doubling the busiest stretch of A6177 to two lanes each way, improving the roundabouts serving Royal Blackburn Hospital and Shadsworth Road and building a new highway linking Blackamoor Road with Roman Road should open up land to create 3,950 jobs. It will also allow the building of 1,000 new homes and create 73,290 square metres of industrial space, much of it on empty land in the Blackamoor area. The documents also reveal that Blackburn with Darwen Council has resurrected its plan to develop 9.3 acres of land between Shadsworth Road and Haslingden Road next to the Royal Blackburn Hospital as a hi-tech medical and science park.

The original GBP25m Medi-Knowledge Park scheme was abandoned in April 2014. The new plan, scheduled for completion in 2025, would create 1,542 jobs. Preparations for the road widening has already started with the main works set to start in April after the main LEP board approval and take 12 months.

Cllr Phil Riley, borough development boss, said “We are very pleased the committee approved our application for LEP funding and look forward to its final approval. “It opens up land for housing and thousands of new jobs by securing proper highways access,” Cllr Riley said. “It has also allowed us to bring back the medipark plan.

We have ensured the land for this scheme has not been compromised.” Cllr John Slater, leader of the council Conservative group, said: “I am glad that this important road improvement has passed its next stage. “I am particularly pleased to see the medipark revived and will speak to Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry to see if the government can help fund it,” he added.

Cllr Slater added: “I remain concerned about the management of traffic during the roadworks and will be keeping a close eye on the council’s plans for this.” A development site at Blackamoor Road is expected to create 1,044 jobs, two parcels of land at Waterside 729, and the redevelopment of the former Blakewater College 542. Blackburn with Darwen Council will contribute GBP2.5m to the project.

The existing junction between Blackamoor Road and Roman Road will be closed.

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