Pennine Reach focuses on the trunk bus routes between Accrington and Blackburn via Clayton-le-Moors, Great Harwood, Rishton and Oswaldtwistle and between Accrington, Blackburn and Darwen.
The Pennine Reach Major Scheme Bid was first submitted to the Department for Transport in April 2009 and was granted Programme Entry, the first stage of funding approval, by the department in March 2010.
Following the Coalition Government's Comprehensive Spending Review in October 2010, the funding approval for Pennine Reach (and a number of other projects across the country) was withdrawn. However, the Department for Transport later invited the submission of a new 'Best and Final' funding bid for all such transport schemes, including Pennine Reach.
In order to be as competitive as possible in the final bidding process and to increase the viability of Pennine Reach, the scheme had to be streamlined to show how the benefits and opportunities of the original proposals could continue to be delivered but at a reduced cost. Accordingly, a detailed review of the initial scheme was carried out and the proposals revised. Importantly, the review and scheme amendments take into account the feedback we received from local residents and businesses and have been designed to improve facilities for everyone in the area.
The revised bid was submitted to the Department for Transport on September 9th 2011 and was granted approval in December 2011.
The last stage of the Department for Transport's procedures is a bid for Final Approval of the scheme. The Final Approval Bid for Pennine Reach was ratified by Lancashire County Council's Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport on the 11th April 2013 and subsequently submitted to the Department for Transport in the same month.
Lancashire County Council and Blackburn with Darwen Council are now awaiting a definitive decision from the Department for Transport on the Final Approval Bid, which is expected in Autumn 2013.
The scheme proposals have been subject to rigorous assessment, audits and a cost review. Detailed engineering designs have been drawn up for the whole route and if Final Approval is given by the Department for Transport, works on the ground could potentially begin as soon as October 2013.
Where there are changes to bus stops, the proposals are being consulted on. Letters and plans have been sent out to local County and District Councillors, Statutory Consultees (such as the Lancashire Constabulary, the Fire service, bus operators, District officers, cycling representatives), and importantly to those people and frontage properties who are directly affected by the bus stop proposals. Consultees have been given the opportunity to send through their thoughts and comments on the initial proposals.