New Preston bus lane approved despite objection that it's 'ridiculous'

New Hall Lane Bus Lane Area
New Hall Lane Bus Lane Area -Credit:LDRS

Preston is to get another new bus lane in an attempt to make journeys more reliable for passengers travelling along one of the busiest routes in the city. Lancashire County Council’s cabinet has given the green light to the introduction of the restriction on New Hall Lane – but the plans have been blasted by some of those living nearby.

The bus-only lane will run for just under 450 yards for westbound traffic – heading towards the city centre – from just after Fishwick Parade through to Witton Street, on the approach to the junction with the A6, London Road. Two-way traffic will continue to flow for all other vehicles, but the existing lanes will be narrowed to accommodate the new bus-priority zone, which will also be open to cyclists.

County Hall has previously said it intends to carry out the work in the autumn, subject to the proposal being approved by cabinet members. The facility will become the ninth bus lane or bus gate in operation in Preston, following the introduction of a new restricted area on Corporation Street, which is set to come into force on May 21.


According to papers presented to the meeting at which the New Hall Lane plans were approved, the scheme is designed to allow buses “to bypass congestion and cut journey times, particularly during peak travel periods”. The route is regularly snarled-up during the morning rush hour.

However, the bus lane proposal came in for criticism from a trio of objectors who responded to a public consultation carried out earlier this year – one of whom branded the idea “ridiculous”.

“You have already narrowed New Hall Lane down – how could you put [in] a bus Lane?” one local resident asked.

“This is a very busy road used by commuters…and is the main road into Preston from the motorway. Going ahead with this would significantly affect all road users.

“There are two schools on this road and parents drop them off using cars – can you imagine how much traffic this would cause?” they asked.

Others warned of the impact the bus lane would have on businesses lining the route, while one also urged the county council to consider an alternative use for the £100,000 cost of the scheme.

“Please, for goodness’ sake, use the money to repair [the]…road surfaces. There are potholes and roads in and around Fishwick [that] are in dire conditions.

“I wish one of you planners would just walk down New Hall Lane on a wet/rainy day and see the congestion and flooding caused [by] previous bad decisions. I have lived in this area all my life and unfortunately, the conditions have worsened due to very expensive bad decisions using taxpayers’ money,” the respondent said.

Addressing the issues raised by locals, County Hall highways officials insisted that the route was wide enough to introduce the bus lane, adding: “Traffic flow would not be impeded in any way.

“The two lanes for general traffic at present would remain, just less wide,” they stated in the cabinet report. The bus lane does not start until after the stretch of New Hall Lane that was previously narrowed in order to widen the footpaths.

The document also stressed that the scheme was being funded with a share of the £34.1m in government cash handed to Lancashire County Council and Blackburn with Darwen Council for their joint Bus Service Improvement Plan – money that cannot be used for non-bus-related purposes like pothole-filling. Cabinet member for highways and transport Rupert Swarbrick said the objections had been “scrutinised properly”.

He added: “The idea is that public transport can move more seamlessly towards the end of New Hall Lane to be able, particularly, to turn left down London Road. I’m satisfied that the scheme is viable and will prove a success.”

County council leader Phillippa Williamson noted that the New Hall Lane and London Road junction “does get very tight…so anything that can relieve that would be very welcome”.

As the Local Democracy Reporting Service revealed in March, a second phase of the project is the proposed widening of that intersection – although that will be subject to a separate consultation and cabinet decision, with the work being undertaken next spring.