A £1 million improvement scheme around the Leyland railway station area starting this year has been revealed.
Among the plans is the redevelopment of the former station ticket office which will become a business hub and new pub over two floors.
The scheme is the prelude to a further £2m revamp of the area over the next few years.
The exciting project was announced at the annual general meeting of the Leyland Town Team, held at South Ribble Council’s Civic Centre.
It is part of a ‘refreshed’ Leyland Masterplan which was first drawn up by the council about 10 years ago.
Martin Carlin, an executive committee member of the town team, said: “As Leyland Town Team, we’re at a very advanced stage at this moment in time of taking over the old ticket station. We’re meeting Northern Rail on March 31 and will be in a good position to sign on the dotted line.”
Exciting new plans have been revealed for Leyland town centre which will get a £3m investment in the next few years.
They include the refurbishment of the old Leyland railway station ticket office.
The project will transform it into a new business hub and bar.
At a later stage, plans for further work around the station area are set to bring a host of improvements.
These will include a station carriage ‘community centre’ and a landmark feature area as part of a £2m scheme.
The ambitious ticket office venture will be shared with the Market Ale House, who, like the town team, had identified the historic building for a takeover.
Martin added: “What we’ve done is come up with a compromise and Northern Rail is quite happy to share the project.”
Describing it as similar to a Bygone Times centre in Eccleston, he said: “What we want to do is encourage small businesses.
“They’ll rent space. We’ll manage it for them, they don’t need to be there.
“They could take on an empty in the high street.”
He said much of the building’s old character would be retained.
“What we want to do is preserve the materials in there,” he said.
A £4.5m investment providing passengers with better access at Leyland station was completed almost six months ago.
Leyland station now has step-free access to all platforms thanks to the upgrade. Passengers using Leyland station can now use lifts, a new footbridge and new staircases which provide easier access to trains thanks to the investment, part of the government’s Access for All scheme.
In October Network Rail, contractor AMCO, Northern, Lancashire County Council and South Ribble Borough Council marked the completion of the scheme during a short ceremony at the station.
Meanwhile, Howard Booth, South Ribble Council’s regeneration manager, gave a presentation at the meeting outlining new improvement plans in general for the surrounding railway station area.
As well as the exciting proposals for the ticket office, the project as a whole will include:
* Sitting a train carriage there that would become a community centre.
* Improved access.
* Better bus stops, coach stops and taxi facilities.
* Improved junction improvements in the Chapel Brow and Golden Hill area to make it safer.
* Car parks.
* A landmark feature area, such as the large ‘face’ of a truck.
Mr Booth pointed out that the area was next to the West Coast Main Line.
He said, “75 million people go past Leyland – let’s tell them Leyland’s here.”
He explained that £1m would be invested in Leyland in the next year or so with another £2m after the City Deal.
Work on the station area first phase is due to begin later this year.
The scheme will go out to public consultation in the coming weeks.
The Leyland Masterplan is part of the £434m Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal, a government-backed programme which aims to boost the area’s economy.
The masterplan aims to give local businesses a helping hand by improving transport links and the environment in which people shop.
The council has already started asking local businesses what they want from the project.
Officers have carried out one-to- one street interviews, household and business surveys and a retail study.
The next step is for councillors to consider people’s views before more detailed proposals can be drawn up.
Another project which aims to improve the lives of residents is the Leyland Health and Community Masterplan, which is focusing on regenerating the West Paddock area over the next decade and is funded by the council, One Public Estate and the Innovation Agency.
Many public services, such as the council, health partners and Leyland Youth and Community Centre are already close to each other and the master plan is looking at how this proximity can be used to transform how civic, health and community services are delivered to residents.
For example, apartments for people with dementia could be built in this area with a dementia ‘centre of excellence’ established, and the council is looking at the possibility of bringing in more public services to the Civic Centre so it acts as a one-stop shop for visitors.
The council met with NHS representatives from Chorley and South Ribble Clinical Commissioning Group last week and will now develop a model for development. Residents and businesses will have a chance to have their say in a full consultation, which would be carried out before any work begins.
As regards the Leyland Railway Station and surrounding area, the council says the aim is to make it ‘an outstanding location’.
At the ticket office, a viewing balcony could be installed and it could become a newsagents, snack bar or a space for business meetings and community events.
An old railway carriage situated at the station, called the Parcel Van, could be refurbished to become a flexible meeting space for functions, community organisations or business meetings.
A new garden could be opened at the station and entry points could be improved to make them safer for pedestrians and more accessible for disabled people and cyclists as well as taxis and buses.
Discussions will take place between the council, rail companies, Friends of Leyland Station and other groups before specific proposals are drawn up.
Councillor Phil Smith, South Ribble Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Leisure, said: “These exciting projects signal our ambition to ensure Leyland continues to be a great place to work, visit and shop.
“We will be working with residents, businesses and partner organisations to ensure that any changes that are made are right for them – and right for Leyland.
“I am looking forward to seeing these projects progress in the coming months.”