BLACKBURN’S £12million ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ will finally have a destination SIX YEARS after its construction started, it was revealed last night.
A deal worth up to £800,000 to buy Blackburn’s Spiritualist Church has opened the way for £7-million to be spent completing Blackburn’s orbital road.
It means the Wainwright Bridge, which was started in 2006, will at last link up with the rest of the town centre ring road.
Blackburn with Darwen council leader Kate Hollern said the news would be a huge boost to the town.
She said: “At last the bridge to nowhere will be a bridge to somewhere. I am delighted.”
Construction work on the long-delayed final link will start next year and be completed in 2014 after the church agreed to sell its premises on St Peter Street to the council after months of tough negotiations.
The church’s initial refusal to sell had looked set to spark a lengthy new public inquiry.
The deal ends a long saga of problems dogging the link road after English Heritage objected to the demolition of the 18th Century Old Police House in King Street.
Bodies in St Peter Street graveyard, opposite the church, will also have to be carefully disinterred and moved.
The remaining stage of the orbital route will link Bolton Road and Preston Old Road, and go from Freckleton Street to Montague Street.
The deal will also allow the completion of the knowledge zone around the college/university campus.
The £7 million cost, which is included in the authority’s capital budget, is almost double the original £4 million planned.
Coun Hollern and borough regeneration boss Dave Harling hope the scheme will now speed through the detailed planning procedures, with construction starting next year.
“This is great news,” said Coun Hollern. “We can now complete the orbital route and get on with the rest of the knowledge zone around the Blackburn College campus.”
Coun Harling said: “This is another crucial piece of the town centre redevelopment jigsaw. We have agreed the purchase of Able Motors and hope to start construction next year with completion in 18 months. In the meantime we also have to carefully dig up the graveyards and move the bodies.
Blackburn MP Jack Straw said the deal was excellent news.
He said: “I was involved in getting this iconic bridge built. I am very glad it will now be used for its original purpose.”
Borough Tory leader Michael Lee also welcomed the news but said: “I shall be asking the executive board about the details of the financial settlement to ensure that the spiritualist church did not make a profit on the deal and that council taxpayers are getting value for money.”
As part of the arrangement a new church will be built on a current car park in Montague Street.
The final approval to buy the existing spiritualist church and relocate it to a new building will be rubber stamped by the borough’s executive board tomorrow night (THURS).
The approval will be 48 hours after plans for the £25 million Cathedral Quarter were submitted to the council on Tuesday.