BRIGHTER times lie ahead in Lancashire after the coronavirus pandemic according to a senior councillor responsible for economic development planning and the environment.

The county council is proactively working with a wider range of public and private sector partners to develop several major schemes in Lancashire that will kickstart its economy, strengthen resilience and provide opportunities for new and emerging business sectors, while also creating jobs in the county.

It is all part of the county council’s objective to re-position the county and help to drive our communities back to economic health.

As the local economy starts to bounce back, more businesses can re-open again and national Covid restrictions are lifted, these significant major investment projects will be an important part of this.

County Cllr Michael Green, Cabinet member for economic development, environment and planning, said: "Lancashire has the second largest economy in the north west, and there's still a lot of potential here. We're working hard with our various partners to unlock this growth, bring major developments to fruition and importantly create jobs for local people.

"With several significant schemes being developed there'll be opportunities for companies to be part of vital supply chains and construction activity, and importantly in the creation of new jobs.

"Lots of businesses in the county have had a tough time due to the impact of Covid, but we’re now seeing brighter times ahead. As more places start to be able to re-open, we’ll start to see our economy improve much more.

"New opportunities will appear as these proposed economic schemes develop and provide a platform for accelerated growth. The county council is leading on several regionally and nationally-significant schemes, which will shape and transform the identity of Lancashire for many years to come."

At the Samlesbury Enterprise Zone, located next to BAE Systems, a site that will deliver over 2,000 jobs and up to 1.5m square feet of development space, the county council has been working closely with its partners to facilitate and enable development.

The county council has delivered the majority of the site's current access infrastructure and plot preparation works, during challenging weather conditions at times and the Covid-19 pandemic.

BAE Systems have also invested significantly in the site with new manufacturing and high-tech facilities, including the Academy for Skills and Knowledge.

Cllr Green added: “Infrastructure Planning across Lancashire as a whole is a key ingredient to assist with economic growth. There are a range of other important pieces of work being progressed to help better plan for the future and to assist in Lancashire’s growth and prosperity "

Elsewhere in Lancashire, other important economic growth activity is also taking place.

Preparatory work is continuing to develop a mixed-use site known as Lancashire Central next to the M65 motorway, near Bamber Bridge, working with developer partner Maple Grove Developments - part of the Eric Wright Group.

It was the former site that was being discussed as a potential spot for an IKEA store but the Swedish furniture giant pulled out.

The county council recognises the importance of the zero-carbon agenda. Following a resolution in December 2020, the council is working to explore a range of opportunities at its strategic sites, working with partners to deliver innovation.

For example, at the Enterprise Zone site at Samlesbury, the county council will be working on a range of environmental and sustainable technologies alongside the 2,000 trees which have been planted, to benefit the local environment.