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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Blackpool Local Plan Published

Today's Blackpool paper headline reveals the Local Authority's Local Plan covering development of sites for new housing as well as revising criteria for town centre commercial use. An immediate eye grabbing by-line referred to Rigby Road Tram Depot identified as one of the potential Council owned sites which could be the subject of new housing. This should be no surprise given the new housing construction which is ongoing along Rigby Road (facing the Transport operation) replacing former industrial and transport usage (Blundell Street Depot) from earlier times.

Before anyone dashes off to register alarm and protest ; inclusion of Rigby Road Tram Depot is one of twenty two Council sites and properties (large and small) offering potential for redevelopment within proposals covering a 5 to 8 year timeframe. There is a qualifying reference indicating that the tram depot site is very much a longer term possibility with no decisions on its ultimate fate having been ordained.

Redevelopment on the bus side of Rigby Road's existing transport infrastructure which is mostly under the ownership and or control of the Operator (BTS) - itself a Council owned business - is very much on the cards. Intentions to introduce electric bus operation as a further enhancement to the BTS fleet are already mooted with exploratory discussions that include Alexander Dennis Ltd. An all electric bus fleet is likely in phased transition involving replacement of the existing fleet but dates and details are yet to be officially announced. Provision of wholly new maintenance and servicing of electric buses will require capital investment by the company in due course. Proposals for relocating the entire bus operation and BTS offices to a new build site on the Squires Gate Enterprise Zone have been shelved - in part, it is understood, due to the high cost of cleanup of the Rigby Road site and more economic option of reconfiguring the bus garage and land to future all-electric vehicle operation.

In the meantime the current heritage tram fleet and its workshops are expected to continue on 'as is'.

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