East Lancashire Gateway

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Visible Image 1 - Viewing the site from Knuzden and the old Mother Redcap, looking towards Whitebirk in May 2004.
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Hidden Image 2 - The site before building from Whitebirk looking towards Intack in May 2004.

The East Lancashire Gateway was first announced in March 2004, and was a 90 acre site at Whitebirk boundarying with Knuzden, and Intack.

A greenfield site located on Hyndburn's western boundary, and situated in a semi-rural area, it adjoins open countryside in the Hyndburn Green Belt.

The site has direct access to Junction 6 of the M65.

The site, once development commences, will be marketed as a 'High Tech Business Park'

The site was to have new high tech industries, and supposedly create new jobs for Rishton and the surrounding area. Planning permission was sought shortly after this.

The site Looking to Blackburn.

On the 9th July 2004 it was announced that the North West Development Agency, a branch of Lancashire County Council, had overspent by £200 million, and were stopping the Whitebirk development, which was to cost £60 million.

The land was to be bought from the Dunkenhalgh.

Once completed the business park will be known as "Lantern Park".

Looking towards Knuzden from Whitebirk on the site before building commenced in May 2004.

Built as part of the M65 construction, Whitebirk roundabout was to get a nortorious reputation.

Traffic Lights

A £3million project aimed at ending the traffic chaos at East Lancashire's most notorious roundabout was unveiled by highways bosses in 2006.

The Highways Agency agreed to spend £1.8 million installing traffic lights at each of the junctions leading on the roundabout.

Blackburn with Darwen Council and Hyndburn Council were to invest money in the project, which will also see £600,000 spent on new bus lanes.

The roundabout, at junction six of the M65, served two of the main routes into Blackburn, along with the principle road to Rishton and was the area's worst accident blackspot.

Work will start in January 2007, although a completion date was not revealed.

The scheme involved wiping out the complex white traffic management markings which caused traffic delays after being put down by Lancashire County Council in 2005.

Blackburn with Darwen councillor for Whitebirk and Shadsworth, Councillor Tony Humphrys was among those who criticised the white lines last year.

He said: "We welcome this because we were concerned about the lack of traffic control provision on that roundabout and the amount of accidents that were occurring. This will go a great way to reducing those accidents and help motorists to understand where they have to go rather than cross the roundabout at 50 or 60 mph."

Council bosses said that the new scheme would create three lanes, increase capacity and improve safety.

The new signals, which would also involve stopping traffic on the roundabout itself, will ensure traffic flows more freely by preventing queues building up on any sliproad and also create three dedicated lanes.

Since 2000, there have been 74 collisions on the roundabout, with 92 casualties as a result.The roundabout has seen more crashes than other accident blackspots.

Just one person has died on the roundabout, with 88 of the casualties being minor' injuries.

The roundabout was originally created when planners envisaged the M65 running around the edge of Blackburn town centre, rather than around the borough boundary as it does now.

The unnecessarily large carriageway encourages drivers to speed, according to highways bosses.

The new work will also remove one of the biggest stumbling blocks to the creation of the East Lancashire Gateway business park at Whitebirk, which is being funded by the North West Development Agency and should attract an initial 2,000 jobs to the area.

Without the improvements to the roundabout, its congestion levels could have led to the Highways Agency blocking the new business park on safety grounds.

Blackburn with Darwen Council leader Councillor Kate Hollern said: "This is great news and will be welcomed by motorists and local businesses. The junction has been a nightmare for drivers for a long time and we believe that this will solve the problem."

Councillor Andy Kay, in charge of regeneration at the council, said his authority had stepped in to fight for the money to help secure jobs within the borough, even though the roundabout itself was within Hyndburn.

Hyndburn Council leader Peter Britcliffe said: "This is excellent news which will address the problems currently caused by vehicles driving too fast at the roundabout.

"The accident levels at this junction are unacceptable but hopefully once work is complete, these should reduce dramatically."

A spokesman for the Department For Transport said research had concluded that placing lights on large roundabouts could lead to the number of accidents halving by regulating flow of traffic so that people don't have to guess when they should pull on to a roundabout.

References

Telegraph, 9th July 2004.

East Lancashire Partnerships Website (http://www.elp.org.uk/strategicsites/65central.shtm) Website no longer available.