Plans for new north Shropshire driving test centre nine months after Whitchurch site shut down

A planning application for a new driving test centre in north Shropshire has been submitted, nine months after the previous one closed down.

MP Helen Morgan said the news that the DVSA could return to Whitchurch was 'very welcome'
MP Helen Morgan said the news that the DVSA could return to Whitchurch was 'very welcome'

The DVSA has submitted a 'change of use' planning application to accommodate a driving test centre at Whitchurch Civic Centre.

The town has been without a test centre since April 2022, when the DVSA closed the centre at The Lodge on Dodington as a controversial cost-saving measure.

Since the closure, Whitchurch Town Council and the North Shropshire MP Helen Morgan have been calling for the DVSA to reopen at an alternative site and proposed the civic centre as an option last May.

Helen Morgan said: “It is very welcome news that this application has been submitted at last.

“It may be a small step but it is a significant one given how long we’ve been waiting for the DVSA to move forward.

“Learner drivers across North Shropshire are having to wait months for a test and travel long distances when they do manage to get one, so the sooner we can get a test centre back running in Whitchurch the better.

“I’ve been working closely with the town council and the many families and instructors affected by last year’s closure and they will all be relieved to hear the DVSA is making progress at last.”

Covid lockdowns and examiner shortages have resulted in unprecedented waits for tests, with a national backlog of around 417,000 candidates waiting, and learners in Shropshire facing a 70-mile trip to alternative centres.

The backlog means an average waiting time of 17 weeks.

This new proposal would see two interview rooms at the Civic Centre be used as offices for driving instructors, with four of the centres spaces allocated for DVSA use - two for test-takers and two for driving instructors.

The application suggests the centre will be open from 8am to 2.30pm Monday to Friday, with two part-time members of staff.

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