City Deal worth £1bn will 'clear Preston's gridlock'

Fishergate, Preston Councils predict that the City Deal could create 20,000 jobs

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A deal delivering a £1bn investment over the next 10 years to clear Preston's gridlock has been signed by the government and three councils.

Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire County signed a City Deal with the government in Downing Street.

Four road projects will be developed, paving the way for 15,000 new homes in an area including the centre and outskirts of Preston and South Ribble.

County council leader Jennifer Mein said she was "relieved".

One of the biggest investments in Lancashire for many years, it almost sounds too good to be true.

In this case it will mean new roads , new houses and better transport which will spark new investment said to add £1bn to the local economy.

The area earmarked includes the centre and outskirts of Preston but also includes South Ribble and the enterprise zones which have been set up at BAE's sites at Warton and Samlesbury.

The main aim is to improve the transport system. If you drive in an out of Preston you will know what I am talking about.

The theory is that development is being held back by the roads that are there at the moment.

In the wake of the current climate it is quite something. There may be questions about whether it will create so many jobs and there may be some environmental issues about where these improvements will be made.

The councils say removing the gridlock is the key to the area's future prosperity and hope the developments will also lead to the creation of 20,000 jobs.

"Our roads are full - gridlocked," said Ms Mein (Labour).

"People want to come here and work but we need better infrastructure for more private sector jobs."

She also said new houses could not be built unless the road system was improved.

There will be new road links - including one from the M55 to BAE at Warton - and road-widening.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg called it a "historic deal" for Preston and Lancashire.

While Minister for Cities, Greg Clark, added: "This deal will be crucial in helping Preston and Lancashire attract outside investment with new transport links, housing and employment sites dramatically improving the growth potential of the entire region."

In October 2012, the Government invited 20 cities and their wider areas, including Preston, to negotiate for the second wave of City Deals, which will see devolved powers in exchange for responsibility for delivering growth locally.

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