The shape of things to come in Poulton-le-Fylde


Plans are in place to make Poulton an even more attractive place to live, as Paul Mackenzie reports.

Getting thereThe railway station is just a short walk from the shops. There are plenty of roads into town but a slightly confused one-way system in the centre.

Where to park: The biggest pay and display is beside the Teanlowe Centre - £2.20 for up to four hours – but there is free street parking outside the town centre.

Where to eat: A great selection. Everything from pub grub to fancy restaurants and classy cafes. Try Grapevine in the pedestrianised Market Place.

Poulton already has plenty going for it, but plans are in place to make the town even more appealing. Often overlooked in favour of the brighter, brasher attractions of Blackpool, or the leafy charms of Lytham and St Annes, Poulton is in many ways the Fylde Coast’s hidden gem.

But it is no secret that Poulton has charms of its own – its rural location, good schools and transport links make it popular with commuters while its shops, pubs and restaurants mean it is popular with visitors.

And now a project which covers all of the borough of Wyre is set to make the town even more attractive. The Shaping your Communities scheme split the borough into six areas – Thornton, Cleveleys, Fleetwood, the rural areas east and west, and Poulton – and involved local people in the process of deciding the future of their area. Plans have been devised for each of the six and they have all now been given the green light by councillors.

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In Poulton the plan has two main thrusts - to complete renovation at the Jean Stansfield memorial park and to improve the air quality around the town.

The work carries a bill of over £130,000, and comes as Booths plan a new store which will be almost double the size of their existing shop in the town. The company has bought the Teanlowe Centre which will be partly demolished and rebuilt and partly refurbished.

Their plans also include a new link road through an existing car park which ties-in with the council’s aim of improving air quality around Poulton.

Councillor David Henderson said: ‘The relief road could reduce traffic through the centre of Poulton by up to 60 per cent. Although we recognise that a new store like this will attract people from outside Poulton, we are trying to encourage people in the town to leave the car and walk.

‘The air quality in the town centre has been a concern for quite some time. A by-pass should have been built in the 1970s, but it wasn’t and now we have to deal with the situation we have, which is that there is a huge amount of traffic coming through the narrow town centre streets.

‘We are starting with the children and educating them about the benefits of walking to school. Then hopefully they will take that message home to their parents. I think parents in Poulton are well aware of the air quality problem we have and I doubt they want to leave it as a legacy for their children.

‘We need to do something about this. It won’t be easy because a lot of people are dependent on their car, but we have to start somewhere.’Cllr Henderson grew up in Blackpool’s South Shore but was familiar with Poulton from an early age as a keen cyclist and wanted to move to the town for many years before he finally did, almost 30 years ago.

He now lives across the road from the Jean Stansfield memorial park and has been involved in much of the park’s recent renovation.

‘When we moved here the park was very under-used and had old tennis courts, little or no facilities for young people, and a problem with anti-social behaviour. It has gone through many phases since then.’

The latest series of revamps has seen a basketball court, a shelter and new seating added and as part of the Shaping Your Communities plan, £120,000 will be spent on new children’s play equipment.

Cllr Henderson, whose mum Lily is a long-serving member of Blackpool Council and a former mayor of the resort, added: ‘We are lucky to have this money and I want to see it used properly to improve what we have in Poulton and to help give our young people the best possible start. If they see people a couple of years older than them vandalising things, they are likely to copy them. If we can break that cycle it will have benefits for everyone.’

And while parts of Poulton are due to change, the town’s reputation for good pubs, bars and restaurants remains as high as ever. Cllr Henderson and others – especially those who live close to the town centre – have concerns over the town’s late night entertainment but concede that it plays a vital part in keeping Poulton’s economy buoyant. There can be few towns of a similar size anywhere in the county, or even the country, which boast a more impressive range of food and drink, with restaurants offering food from all corners of the globe at prices to suit most pockets.

And although the options for shoppers may not be what they once were, there is still a good variety of chain stores and independent shops.The town is also notable for its Famous Five – the market cross, stocks, whipping post, fish slab and Victorian lamp. The cross is the oldest of the group and was a reminder to mediaeval traders of the church’s importance in all things, something offenders could ponder on while they were chained in the stocks or tied to the whipping post.

Five things you might not know about Poulton

• St Chad’s Church, which is famous for its wonderful springtime displays of crocuses, is dedicated to a seventh century Saxon bishop from the Midlands.

• Poulton was originally a small farming and fishing community and was also an important trading port.

• The “le-Fylde” was added to the town name in 1842, shortly after the penny post service was launched and immediately ran into problems, sending mail intended for Poulton to its sound-alike near Morecambe, Poulton-le-Sands.

• In March 1752 a devastating fire swept through Poulton and destroyed many buildings. A national collection was launched to raise the funds to rebuild the village.

• In 1970 the nearly intact 12,000 year old skeleton of an elk was discovered in the town. The remains of weapon tips were still embedded in its legs, proving prehistoric hunters had lived in the area. The skeleton is now at Preston’s Harris Museum.

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