£22m tramway dream moves a step closer

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Transport chiefs have now formally asked the Government to approve a £22m extension to the Blackpool tramway.

A raft of documents has been submitted to the Secretary of State for Transport who must authorise the work.

An artists impression of trams in Talbot Square

An artists impression of trams in Talbot Square

It follows a vote at full council last month which was in favour of the project to extend the track up Talbot Road to Blackpool North Railway Station.

Also proposed as part of the scheme is a new tram terminal on the site of the Wilkinson’s store which is set to relocate to a new development alongside the Houndshill Centre.

A consultation process elicited 134 responses, with 81 supporting the extension bid and 46 objecting including a number of taxi drivers, with eight responses concerned with other issues.

Concerns raised included loss of footfall by businesses along the route, traffic congestion, impact on the taxi trade and the high cost.

Further details of the funding and construction phases are also incorporated in the documents.

While it is acknowledged the work “will inevitably have a temporary impact on the existing highway and its users”, the council has already developed a strategy designed to ensure disruption is minimised.

This approach “limits the number of highway junctions and sections of the carriageway that can by closed at any one time to provide continued access to the town centre”.

It also “rightly recognises the seasonality of the Blackpool tourist economy”.

The assessment of the scheme says: “It can be concluded the scheme can be introduced without causing significant detriment to the existing highway, the wider public transport system and its users.

“Generally the scheme will result in positive benefits for the visitors to Blackpool.”

It adds: “The proposals and mitigation measures to offset impacts are wholly aligned with the vision of Blackpool Council, the transport policy and other complementary schemes.”

The construction phase on the Promenade highway will only begin after the Illuminations have finished.

The total funding package of £21.4m includes £16.4m from the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership and £4.7m from the council.