The M65 and the A56 Bypass – the story so far

As part of our “Build Our Bypass” campaign, we have created a timeline of the history of the M65 and A56 Bypass.

We are hopeful that by 2021 a new junction will have been installed off the M65 between Juncion 13 and 14, which would link the M65 to Foulridge around Colne.

Residents are invited to express their views by joining in with the Lancashire County Council public consultation.

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It was announced by Graham Page, minister for local government and development, that work was set to begin on a £15,000,000 Calder Valley “fast route” project (the M65) - which included a new principal road to Colne.


Planning of the Burnley to Colne stage of the M65 begins. Burnley Corporation and the county council joined forces to ensure the final stretch of the motorway could be constructed at the same time as stage one between Blackburn and Burnley. It was reported that 18,000 vehicles a day were using Colne to get on the Barrowford to Padiham bypass.


A major blueprint for a new motorway was announced. The scheme, suggested by the county surveyor’s department, planned to link the Calder Vale fast route with Yorkshire. Development minister Graham Page said that the government was “determined” to give East Lancashire a Calder Valley highway (the M65) by 1978. It was later confirmed that the motorway would see around 160 homes in Colne and Winewall demolished. Coun. Tony Greaves, whose home avoided the chop, said “the village would be killed by the motorway”. Overall, it was expected that hundreds of home would be bulldozed between Burnley and Colne. British Rail confirmed that the motorway would not stop trains running from Colne.


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The county highways and bridges committee said that demoting the Burnley to Colne section of the proposed M65 to a two-lane fast road would be “adequate for the forseeable future”. The Department of the Enviroment confirmed that the Burnley to Blackburn section of the M65 would still have three lanes, and the motorway was said to still be a Lancashire County Council “top priority”.


The proposed M65 was described as “a fundamental lifeline for the revitalisation of East Lancashire”.


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The first cash allocation for the M65 was made, with Lancashire County Council including £10,732,000 in its capital programme. This was for the Burnley to Nelson section of the new motorway. The first bulldozers were expected to make their way on to a site at Lindred Lane, Brierfield, by June - in the first step of the multi-million pound motorway scheme. But in the same week that the first stage of the work got underway, Pendle Liberals called for the cancellation of the M65 project altogether - believing it would be a waste of public money. It was also claimed by Pendle councillor, Coun. John Smithson that a motorway extension from the M65 across the county boundary into Yorkshire was “extremely doubtful for the forseeable future”.


Work on the Burnley section of the M65 was due to start at the end of the year.


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Pendle councillors were set to protest to the county council over the decision not to include the Nelson to Colne section of the M65 in the five-year planning programme.


A £7.7 million scheme that would provide a bypass for Colne was to be considered by the county highways committee. The idea was raised to prevent major traffic issues following the completion of the Nelson to Colne section of the M65. The bypass and a link road from the motorway to North Valley Road were among schemes earmarked for 1987/88.


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Residents were left alarmed over plans to create a major road link from Colne to West Craven. The proposals involved building a road along the line of the old Colne to Skipton railway. A new call was made by Burnley MP Peter Pike to extend the M65 from Colne, to beyond Keighley. But Pendle Council’s general management committee voted to scrap an eastward extension of the M65 into Yorkshire. Plans for a Foulridge bypass were put on show for the first time, and councillors began pressing for the bypass to be built as soon as possible. It was scheduled for 1990-2000.


The £9 million extension to the M65 motorway, between Nelson and Colne, was labelled a number one priority on a list of road schemes due to start in the next year.


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The Foulridge bypass proposals were put off to an unspecified “later year”, but Coun. David Whipp argued that Pendle Council should push for an earlier start to avoid traffic chaos in Colne. The last link to the eastern end of the M65 motorway was finally taking shape.


Tenants whose houses could be swallowed up by the eastward extension of the M65 were considering setting up a body to set up their views.


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Chairman of the county Highways and Transportation Committee Coun. George Slynn said that Lancashire County Council remained fully committed to building a Pendle bypass scheme.


Plans for an eastward extension of the M65 motorway were blocked by the government. Protestors had feared that the extension would create more congestion and pollution, and would destroy the character of Colne. Those in favour had argued it would have generated jobs and businesses. Lancashire County Council also scrapped plans for the Foulridge bypass, after it was decided the defunct Colne to Skipton rail line was not wide enough for a dual carriageway.


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Lancashire County Council lifted its two-year suspension on work to prepare the Colne to Foulridge bypass, after residents were forced to endure traffic snarl-ups of more than 20,000 vehicles.


Pendle MP Gordon Prentice and four councils stepped up pressure for a new single-lane bypass around Colne and Foulridge. They feared the area risked being swamped by up to 20,000 vehicles if urgent action was not taken.


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After 25 years, plans to extend the M65 from Colne to Keighley were thrown out once and for all.


Colne and Foulridge Environmental Protection Group stepped up the fight to stop the building of the Foulridge bypass - on the grounds it would create an unacceptable level of environmental damage for relatively limited and short-term gains.


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The “village bypass” scheme was relegated to second priority after Lancashire County Council put its available cash into the £5.6 million link between the M6 and Heysham. A major survey showed that the people of Pendle were in support of building the bypass, which would ease traffic congestion on North Valley Road, in Earby and in villages, such as Foulridge and Kelbrook. But some campaigners, including Friends of the Earth, argued that it could move the gridlock problem on North Valley Road to another area.


The Colne to Foulridge was made a Lancashire County Council priority. Proposals formed part of a major East Lancashire Highways and Transport Masterplan.