Levelling Up Fund: Burnley and Pendle to share in £50m boost that will speed up bus journeys and encourage cycling and walking

East Lancashire is in line for a raft of public transport improvements and measures to make cycling and walking more attractive after Lancashire County Council secured almost £50m from the government’s Levelling Up Fund.

Burnley, Pendle, Rossendale and Hyndburn will benefit from schemes that could include offering bus passengers real-time journey information while they are waiting at bus stops and the creation of new cycling routes.

It comes after County Hall decided to focus its transport-themed application to the cash pot on Lancashire’s eastern boroughs, having whittled down around 600 potential schemes county-wide to select a handful which it hoped had the best chance of winning government support.

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The county council’s cabinet heard last June that the bid would centre around three thematic projects to upgrade public transport facilities, promote active travel by encouraging cycling and walking and to develop so-called “liveable neighbourhoods”.

Would better bus journeys and information about running times tempt you on board?

Although details were finalised later, members were told that specific schemes could include the installation of priority bus stops, featuring up-to-the-minute information displays and audio announcements – similar to those found at railway stations – while traffic light-controlled junctions on key bus routes could be fitted with “intelligent priority” technology to help speed journeys.

Meanwhile, cycling and walking corridors are set to see footpaths widened, the creation of shared and segregated cycle and pedestrian provision, surface upgrades and new controlled crossing points. Similar improvements – along with secure cycle parking and new lighting, seating, planting – were proposed within eight neighbourhood areas as part of the bid.

Mobility hubs were also planned at up to four locations to facilitate shifts between public transport and active travel options within the same journey – via the likes of secure cycle storage.

Reacting to the news that the bid had been successful, Lancashire County Council leader Phillippa Williamson said that it would be “a welcome boost for our county”.

There are plans to make some neighbourhoods more cycle and pedestrian-friendly (image via Lancashire County Council)

“A huge amount of work was carried out to identify the areas that would benefit the most from this Levelling Up Fund and it will make a real and positive difference to local communities.

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“It will be invested in developing a range of complementary projects that, when linked together, will significantly improve the quality of life and opportunities for people across the county, but particularly in Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle and Rossendale.

“Thank you to everyone who took time to provide us with feedback that has helped us to shape our bid proposals. We will now look to progress these plans and work towards making them a reality.”

The county council’s cabinet committed the authority to providing £5m of match funding to create an overall £55m package – although attempts will be made to secure some of the additional cash from third parties.

The schemes are likely to be completed by late 2025 under current estimates.