First plans unveiled for redevelopment of Rigby Road Depot

At the end of last year when it was announced that a number of privately owned trams would be asked to leave Blackpool Transport’s Rigby Road Depot one of the reasons given was for the redevelopment of the complete 2.88 hectare site. And now the first stage of what is said to be a five year plan has been unveiled with a planning application submitted for one of the garages in the bus side of the complex.

The planning application, submitted in mid-January, states: “Erection of a two storey side extension following demolition of existing single storey extension; erection of a two storey front extension; and external alterations to the existing east garage building including replacement roof and wall cladding and installation of new garage doors and windows.”

The East Garage is the building on the opposite side of the bus yard to the Paint Shop and Body Shop and once the work is complete the aim is “to consolidate current bus maintenance operations in one upgraded facility”.

While this does not have any direct connection to the trams presumably with this building being under development for approximately a year there will be more limited space for buses meaning that the current tram shed may be needed for the storage of buses during this period.

In a Blackpool Gazette article a spokesperson from Blackpool Transport said: “We intend to stay on this site as it is close to the town centre and the refurbishment of buildings like East Garage is less expensive and quicker than building a new bus depot. The new look East Garage could be used for the maintenance of either diesel or zero emission buses. The vision is to have a fleet of zero emission buses which could be either electric or hydrogen fuelled vehicles by 2030. More research is needed to decide which one is right for Blackpool Transport. This is a large scale project that will take at least five years to complete and the planning permission application is a preliminary step towards rejuvenating Rigby Road Depot.”

There had been some suggestion in recent years that with the Rigby Road site being on prime land for housing that Blackpool Transport may be on the move but the news that they will redeveloping the site seems to put that to bed and the trams and buses will continue to be kept there for the foreseeable future. Obviously, plans for a significant area of the complex – including those areas we are concerned with for the trams – have not yet been announced but with confirmation this is a five year plan, they should follow in the coming years.

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