Plans to create a tramway pilot project in Preston have been given the green light.
The plans, which will see a stretch of the former Longridge to Preston railway line reinstated in Deepdale, were approved by Preston City Council’s planning committee today (November 10).
The plans were first tabled back in 2010, but faced a series of rejections at planning committee. Lancashire-based planning consultancy PWA Planning was brought in earlier this year to advise applicant Preston Trampower on achieving a successful planning consent and a new planning application was submitted in April 2016.
Under the approved proposals, the tram operation will not be open to paying customers, but will be used for training purposes, as a demonstrator for other local authorities, and to raise public awareness of trams as a sustainable mode of transport.
Daniel Hughes, senior planner at PWA Planning, said: “We’ve worked with Preston Trampower to help satisfy a variety of planning constraints and we’re pleased this ambitious scheme finally has permission to move forward.
“The project had a rather long planning history, but since being brought in we’ve been able to help the company devise a clear strategy to achieve their objectives.”
Under the proposals a new tram station, platform and tram depot shed will be built on a former coal yard while the section of the disused train line between Skeffington Road and Deepdale Street will be reinstated as a tram line.
Lewis Lesley, technical director of Preston Trampower, said: “Bringing trams back to Preston after more than 80 years was always going to be an ambitious undertaking, but hopefully this planning consent can lead to bigger and better things in the future.
“We still believe this exciting pilot project can act as a precursor to a fully operational tram system for Preston that can be easily extended across the city and link up to other transport hubs.”
While the pilot project will not involve paying passengers, it will focus on staff training with members of the public being invited to ride on the tram as part of an awareness raising process. It would also provide educational visits to school children.
Preston Trampower’s wider vision would see the company seeking approval to extend the project with the ultimate objective of linking up to the railway station with the north of the city, as well as serving UCLan and the Lancashire Enterprise Zone at Samlesbury.