Redeveloping Shrewsbury 'very difficult' without relief road

A transport boss has said redeveloping Shrewsbury would be "very difficult" without the £87 million North West Relief Road.

If the North West Relief Road isn't built, it would be "very difficult" to deliver some of the Big Town Plan schemes, according to Councillor Steve Charmley
If the North West Relief Road isn't built, it would be "very difficult" to deliver some of the Big Town Plan schemes, according to Councillor Steve Charmley

Councillor Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council's new transport lead, disagreed with claims of Shrewsbury town councillors that the Big Town Plan - which includes a major redevelopment of Smithfield Road into a riverside destination - is not reliant on the road being built.

He said that a number of projects would be harder to deliver, but accepted now is a time to "pause and reflect" on a host of Shrewsbury schemes, including the road, the Big Town Plan, ditching Shropshire Council's Shirehall HQ and redeveloping the shopping centres.

Councillor Charmley said: "We've got to pause and reflect on our big schemes. The town council has taken a view.

"A lot of the schemes within the Big Town Plan are predicated on the road being built. We worked out that 60 per cent of traffic on Smithfield Road is through traffic that isn't stopping in the town centre. If we move that traffic onto the relief road it frees up a lot of space in the town centre to do these projects, particularly along the riverside.

"If the road isn't built it won't affect all of our schemes, but it will make a lot of them very difficult to deliver.

Reflection

"A lot of the arguments are environmental, but you'd be taking traffic out of the town centre. They don't stack up. That ring road needs joining up.

"The town council has made its position pretty clear. We'll reflect on it and see where we are in the next couple of months."

Councillor Charmley's comments came after Shrewsbury Town Council almost unanimously backed a motion to object to the road at a meeting on Monday evening, and to call on the Conservative-led Shropshire Council to divert capacity to producing a sustainable transport plan.

More than 3,300 comments - mostly negative - have been officially uploaded onto the Shropshire Council planning portal about the road, which would stretch for four miles from the Churncote roundabout to Battlefield.

Shrewbury mayor and Green Party councillor for Porthill Julian Dean said that pushing ahead with the road plan would be "completely bonkers", given there is likely to be a reduction in commuting due to new working trends sparked by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Shrewsbury Town Council leader Alan Mosley, Labour councillor for Castlefields and Ditherington, said that "The people of Shrewsbury do not want the relief road," and added: "We need to speak out loudly on this and ensure we are heard in all areas we are listened to."

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