M55 Link Road (The Moss Road)

*****BREAKING NEWS: LEGAL DEALS SIGNED - WORK TO START ON M55 LINK ROAD IN MAY*****

The proposed M55 link road is a project I have been working on for several years and one that I know is close to the heart of local residents. This has been a long endeavour, and I have been frustrated at the delays - but the scheme finally has a start date, funding has been released, and the scheme has been fully approved. The £27 million scheme is fully funded once again, after two packages of funding fell away earlier this year. I would like to thank the Prime Minister and senior ministers for responding so positively to my intensive lobbying, after the Government committed the missing funds and I am pleased to see Lancashire County Council award the tender for groundworks on the road.

Pre-works have already been completed, with BT Openreach completing a near-£1 million project to remove National Air Traffic cabling from the site. Ground clearance has taken place. United Utilities are now on site carrying out works to protect a water main on the site, and Electricity North West will soon remove redundant cabling from the area, ahead of the main earthworks.

I attend regular meetings with Lancashire County Council, Fylde Council, the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership and others to press this project on. It is a complex endeavour with funding from multiple sources, and legal agreements needed with a number of different landowners.

Here are some of my most recent actions to ensure this road gets built:

26 March 2021
The announcement is made: all of the funding is secure, and all of the legal agreements are signed. Work will start on the road in May 2021 and is expected to take 30 months in total. Here is the news release:

Work is due to start in May on the construction of a major new road which will bring jobs, housing and investment to the Fylde coast.
Lancashire County Council, Fylde Borough Council and the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership have announced that the land and funding needed to deliver the M55 Heyhouses Link Road is now in place, and work is underway to let a contract to build the road.
The £27m road scheme will improve access between Lytham St Annes and the M55, relieve congestion on smaller local roads, and support the commercial viability of local housing and business development sites.
The scheme is one of ten ‘shovel ready’ projects across the county to receive support as part of the Getting Building Fund to speed up construction in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
The road will provide much better access between the M55 motorway and existing employment areas in Lytham and St Annes, with the improved link to the coast also supporting the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone and the area’s vital leisure and tourism industry. In addition, Wild Lane on the northern section will connect into existing bridleways and become a route for pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians to enjoy its use. On the southern section, the road
will have a parallel footway/cycleway. Together these will provide a continuous sustainable transport corridor along the whole length of the new road.
The link road will connect the existing roundabout at Whitehills Road to the north with Heyhouses Lane near the Cypress Point development site to the south. Work to ‘preload’ the ground for the new road will begin in May and construction will follow when the ground has stabilised. The link road project is expected to take around 30 months to complete. United Utilities and Electricity Northwest have been working at the site since March to protect and divert existing utilities, with this preparation phase expected to be completed in May.
County Councillor Keith Iddon, deputy leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “Journey times and reliability are crucial for securing additional investment into this area, and the new link road is key to facilitate future growth of the Fylde coast economy.
“Access from Lytham St Annes to the M55 is currently indirect for most people, with congestion in a number of places where existing roads are already nearing full capacity. I know residents and businesses have been looking forward to this project getting underway for some years.
“We have been working closely with a number of public partners and landowners to bring together the land and funding needed to deliver the scheme. Officers are now finalising contracts to allow work to start on site in May and agree a programme for construction.”
Councillor Karen Buckley, leader of Fylde Borough Council, said: “Fylde Council has worked tirelessly with Lancashire County Council to finally make this happen and I am grateful for their commitment, and also for our MP, Mark Menzies, who has fully supported the scheme over a number of years.
“At the outset of negotiations, recognising the importance of the link road, Fylde Council pledged significant financial support and officer time. To see it finally underway will be a huge relief to our residents and the tangible benefits to the local community will assist our post-Covid recovery.”
David Taylor DL CBE, chair of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: “This funding provided via the LEP will unlock homes, create new jobs and deliver investment in commercial and green spaces, and give a much-needed boost to the local economy.
“This project will also improve connectivity to the nearby Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone, making it more attractive to businesses and helping to secure further inward investment to the Fylde Coast.”
Fylde MP Mark Menzies said: “This is the culmination of 10 years of campaigning. At the start of the process I was told it was all too difficult and unlikely ever to be achieved, but I lobbied Highways England, Homes England, the Prime Minister and Chancellor to secure a great deal of that funding, alongside the real drive and funding from Lancashire County and Fylde Councils.
“I cannot wait for the day we can drive across this road and see the benefits it will bring to the economic development of the area.”
Today’s announcement means that all legal contracts and funding are in place to deliver the link road. This is a complicated scheme which has been progressing for many years, and Lancashire County Council, as the highways authority and sponsor of the scheme, is grateful for the full support of all neighbouring landowners, in particular Kensington Developments Limited and Home Farm (Lytham) Limited, where land has been secured through their agreement. The county council would also like to thank landowners adjacent to the route of the new road for their agreement to provide working space to make construction easier.

24 March 2021
The Lancashire Economic Partnership signs off the deal and releases the funding for the scheme. Lancashire County Council approves the release of funds and the project can begin.

23 March 2021
Land deals are understood to have been signed with the two key landowners on the scheme.

5 March 2021
The M55 Link Road Working Party met again. I asked about timeframes for the signing of legal agreements and was told most would be signed within a week after minor issues were ironed out after the last meeting. Cutting back along the route has now been completed ahead of any nesting season and contractors are expected on site to place the concrete slab necessary to protect a water main on the site.

19 February 2021
Attended the M55 Link Road working party group meeting. All tenders for the earthworks contract have been received and officers are going through the bids to check for both value for money and quality. The vast majority of tenders are within the anticipated budget. Legal agreements with landowners are largely agreed and ready to sign. 

5 February 2021
Attended the M55 Link Road working party group meeting. Electricity North West workers have been on site removing now-redundant cabling following earlier works to replace them. 

22 January 2021
Attended the M55 Link Road working party group meeting. A strong number of tenders have been received for the earthworks. Works have started on ground clearance for the road and associated works area.

17 December 2020
Fylde councillors backed a key change which was a vital part of the legal agreements for the route. Councillors voted to delegate permission to planning officers to deal with a change to the East West route linking the new road with the Queensway junction. The change means the East West route initially be a road through the Queensway estate, with a more direct route to be developed following the completion of more homes on the site. 

11 December 2020
Attended the M55 Link Road working party group meeting.

20 November 2020
Attended the M55 Link Road working party group meeting.
The tendering process for the earthworks has started and bids from interested parties are invited.

30 October 2020
Attended the M55 Link Road working party group meeting.

2 October 2020
Attended the M55 Link Road working party group meeting.

3 September 2020
Lancashire County Council's cabinet meet to discuss drawing down its money for the project, and to begin the tendering process for the £11 million earthworks contract.

14 August 2020
Attended the M55 Link Road working party group meeting.

4 August 2020
The Government announced the M55 link road will get the full £5.8 million from the Getting Building Fund following our bids made via the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, and our appeals to ministers, Secretaries of State and the Prime Minister. The funding replaces the lost £1.8 million from the Growth Fund, and the Homes England funding.
I requested these funds from Government after lobbying the Prime Minister twice including at Prime Minister’s Questions, and held further meetings with senior cabinet ministers to make the case for the project.
We now have a fully-funded scheme once again and I expect the legalities to be completed quickly so that we can get shovels in the ground.
It is more important than ever, as we begin the recovery from coronavirus, that we do everything we can to kickstart the economy, and getting this road built will be a huge boost for Fylde.
Announcing the funding, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “As we get Britain building we are also laying the foundations for a green economic recovery by investing in vital infrastructure for local communities, creating jobs and building environmentally-friendly homes with a huge £1.3 billion investment announced today.
“This Government is determined to level up all parts of the country and this funding will not only give a much-needed boost to our economic recovery, it will help build the good quality, affordable homes the country needs.”

24 July 2020
Attended the M55 Link Road working party group meeting.

10 July 2020
Attended the M55 Link Road working party group meeting.

26 June 2020
Attended the M55 Link Road working party group meeting.

24 June 2020
I highlighted the M55 link road to Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he welcomed the lifting of some coronavirus measures - and invited him to Fylde for a haircut in the process.
During Prime Minister's Questions, I said: "May I welcome the measures that the Prime Minister has announced today, which will be a real boost to the visitor economy? Other Members have invited him to come for a drink in their constituency, but may I invite him to Fylde to get his hair cut?
"While he is here, he will have an opportunity to realise why it is very important, as part of the levelling-up agenda, to give the green light to projects such as the Lytham St Annes M55 link road, which will ensure that the visitor economies of areas such as Fylde are connected and well served for years to come."
The Prime Minister told me: "I am not sure I can wait until I get to Fylde to have my hair cut.
"Certainly, my hon. Friend’s appeal for the M55 relief road is well judged and has been heard by those on the Government Benches, and of course he should look forward to the further steps in the infrastructure revolution that we will be unveiling."

12 June 2020
Attended the M55 Link Road working party group meeting.

11 June 2020
Held an online conference with the Lancashire Economic Partnership chairman and officers to re-engage the LEP with the project and to find a way forward to identify missing funding.

10 June, 2020
At Prime Minister's Questions, I said: "Hospitality and tourism businesses on the Fylde coast are concerned about their path to long-term recovery and the infrastructure needed to support that.
"Central to the issue locally is the M55 link road, a project that was fully funded but had an issue with some funding allocations. Will the Prime Minister put his weight behind this issue and help me to secure the £5.7 million needed to complete this shovel-ready project?"
The Prime Minister told me: "What I can say is that we will unite and level up with infrastructure projects across our country. I congratulate my hon. Friend on his lobbying for that particular scheme and can tell him that last year we put £31 million into the Preston western distributor scheme, which is a new dual carriageway that will reduce congestion in Preston and lead directly to the creation of 3,000 houses and more than 500 jobs.
"As for further expansion of the M55, my hon. Friend will have to wait, but there will be further announcements in due course."

8 June 2020
I attended a meeting with Secretary of State Robert Jenrick to further discuss my concerns over the withdrawal of the Homes England Funding and the clear issues used in their reasoning. I asked the Secretary of State to identify new funding to be used to ensure the remaining £19 million of funds would not fall away.

26 May 2020
Met with Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak to highlight the economic benefits the M55 link road would bring; better access to the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone, and unlocking housing sites (ie the link road has to be built before the Queensway site can be fully developed).

22 May 2020
Attended the M55 Link Road working party group meeting.

7 May 2020
Transport Minister Chris Pincher wrote back to me explaining the withdrawal of the HIF funding - in part due to the fact Homes England took so long leading to the loss of the Growth Deal Funding. Because of the loss of the Growth Deal Funding, Homes England would not consider the project fully funded. Some of the reasoning given to the minister by Homes England used incorrect data, and I joined Fylde Council in writing back to highlight the errors in their calculations. Homes England had stated the scheme no longer offered value for money, however they did not use the correct housing figures and regardless, we highlighted several other more expensive schemes funded by Homes England which delivered even fewer houses than their incorrect figures.

7 May 2020
Attended the M55 Link Road working party group meeting.

30 April 2020
Confirmation of withdrawal of funding from the Lancashire Economic Partnership and Homes England.

23 April 2020
I wrote to Secretary of State for Transport Robert Jenrick to highlight the scheme and the need for haste with the funding agreements due to the imminent deadline for the Growth Deal Funds. 

27 March 2020
I wrote to Minister Chris Pincher highlighting the M55 project and the need for haste with the scheme, for fear we would lose the £2 million Growth Deal funding from the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership. He told me plans were progressing but a deal would not be signed off until August.

20 March 2020
Attended the M55 Link Road working party group meeting.

13 March 2020
Attended the M55 Link Road working party group meeting.

6 March 2020
Attended the M55 Link Road working party group meeting.

21 February 2020
Attended the M55 Link Road working party group meeting.

13 February 2020
I met with Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism Helen Whately, after I called for better roads and rail services during a debate on the tourism industry.
I met with the Minister and told her that it is all very well and good having great seaside resorts, but not if we do not have the right infrastructure in place to get people to and from them.
I asked for the meeting to discuss how the Government can support tourism in Fylde by funding better services and infrastructure.
I highlighted the need for movement on the M55 link road which we desperately need to see built as soon as possible. I told her that while initial works had taken place, we were awaiting the start of full construction of the road following the completion of the last legalities.

7 February 2020
Attended the M55 Link Road working party group meeting.

29 January 2020
I, and Blackpool South MP Scott Benton, wrote to Grant Shapps in his capacity as Secretary of State for Transport, and the Northern Powerhouse Minister, to ask for funding for the M55 link Road and the South Fylde Railway line. We detailed the number of homes the M55 link road scheme would unlock, and also the importance of it to the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone.

17 January 2020
Attended the M55 Link Road working party group meeting.

8 January 2020
Meeting with Kensington and Fylde Council to discuss funding and planning on the Queensway site.

A few milestone moments from 2019:

20 December 2019
Met with Lancashire County Council's cabinet member for highways, County Coun Keith Iddon, as well as head of highways Phil Durnell.

25 July 2019
During the Priorities for Government debate, after the election of Boris Johnson to the leadership of the Conservative Party, I spoke in Parliament and said: "I welcome the Prime Minister to his role and his commitment to infrastructure in the north of England. Will he commit to the Government continuing to invest in small projects across the north of England, such as the M55 Lytham St Annes bypass?"
The Prime Minister told me: "I lost count, in the course of the recent campaign, of the number of dualling schemes and bypasses that I seemed to commit myself to. I will certainly make sure that we invest massively in road. Although I believe passionately in mass transit, there is no doubt that for many people investment in improving our roads is absolutely essential for economic progress."

12 July 2019
Met with Lancashire County Council and Homes England to discuss funding packages. 

March 2019 
Preliminary works on the replacement M55 link road started.
Workers from BT Openreach began moving National Air Traffic Service cables from Blackpool Airport ahead of the main construction of the road.
I was delighted to see actual work taking place which demonstrated a £1 million commitment to this fully-funded road project.

A few milestone moments from earlier:

13 January 2017
Met with Highways England to discuss the M55 link road, Preston West Distributor, and the A585 bypass. I highlighted the vital need for the link road to be competed at the earliest opportunity. 

16 December 2016
Met with Highways England to ask for information on funding packages which could be used for the M55 link road. Although not a trunk road, HE agree funds could be made available if the right case is made for the scheme, linking it to the motorway - the short stretch of the A583 between the end of the road and the motorway had been regarded as an anomaly which could prevent HE funding being issued.

30 November 2016
I met with the Secretary of State for Transport and asked for all possibilities to be looked into for funding the M55 link road.

30 November 2016
I asked Prime Minister Theresa May to do everything possible to get the link road project on track. I said: "I welcome last week’s autumn statement announcement of £556 million for infrastructure in the north of England, but despite that and years of hard work, the M55 Lytham St Annes link road is still not assured. Will my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister do everything she can to ensure that this vital local project for jobs and employment in my constituency is delivered without further delay?"
She replied: "I commend my hon. Friend on the hard work he has put in in relation to this project. I understand that there is to be a significant sum of funding from a developer and that my hon. Friend has been working with the developer and the county council on this issue. The local enterprise partnership has submitted a linked bid to Highways England that is being actively considered, and I understand that my hon. Friend is meeting my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Transport this afternoon to discuss this in more detail."

15 March 2016
The importance of the M55 link road is highlighted in a debate about Lancashire's transport infrastructure.

6 June 2016
Met with the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership to discuss the £2 million Growth Fund monies which I secured for the Moss Road.

 

I would like to take this opportunity apologise for the length of time this project has taken to come to fruition, but we are finally there now.

I want to see this road opened as quickly as possible, and I will not rest until I see shovels in the ground.

News

Mark Menzies MP delighted at works on M55 link road

Fylde MP Mark Menzies has welcomed the start of pre-works on the M55 link road project.

The proposed link road would connect the existing roundabout at Whitehills Road to the north with Heyhouses Lane near the Cypress Point development site to the south.