Relief route ‘stuck in painstaking planning process’, MP says

Artist’s impression of the North West Relief Road over the River Severn at Shelton, near Shrewsbury

Daniel Kawczynski expressed frustration in the House of Commons that the north-west relief route from Shrewsbury is “still stuck in the planning process”.

His comments came as Shropshire Council admitted rising costs in the construction industry would mean the project would cost more than the £81million originally forecast.

Mr Kawczynski, MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, had been lobbying the government to fund the controversial road project, which he said was essential to ease congestion in the town’s narrow streets.

But during a debate in the House of Commons last week, he expressed concern about delays in final approval of the scheme.

Mr Kawczynski has asked the chairman of the transport select committee, MP Huw Merriman, to pressure the government to speed up ongoing road projects.

He told the Commons that more than £50m had been secured from the government for the scheme.

“What is he doing to ensure that the road construction projects we secure for our constituencies don’t get stuck in the planning process?” he said. “Some of us find the planning process very laborious and complex.”

He asked Mr Merriman whether the select committee had been in talks with the government to look at ways to streamline the planning process for new roads.

Mr Merriman said his committee was “committed” to addressing the issue.

Mr Kawczynski said the four-mile road, linking Battlefield to Churncote, was needed to ease congestion in the town center and boost the economy.

But the regime drew 4,500 objections.

A spokeswoman for Shropshire Council said this week that she expected the scheme to be presented to the planning committee in the autumn as soon as possible.

“The total planned cost of the road, including the Oxon Link Road) subject to planning approval, would then be presented in a document to Councilors towards the end of the year to agree on the submission of the full business case to the Department of Transportation,” she said.

“Given rising costs across the economy and particularly in the construction industry, it is fair to assume that the cost of the project will inevitably be higher than the original road budget.

However, she said the board remained confident it would be financially viable.

“We are looking at different ways to accommodate any budget increases while minimizing any additional financial burden on the board,” she said.

Louisa R. Loomis