Shropshire Star

Shrewsbury relief road would be 'financial disaster', insist leaders

Leaders of opposition parties have issued a warning over costs of the Shrewsbury North West Relief Road, suggesting it would be a "financial disaster".

An artist's impression of how the North West Relief Road's viaduct would look

The move comes after it was revealed that Shropshire Council has already spent £9.1 million on the project without a shovel having touched the ground.

The spending, which represents over 10 per cent of the road’s estimated £87m budget, was revealed in a public question at a recent Shropshire Council Cabinet meeting. It includes costs for design, development and delivery of the current planning application, and is higher than originally expected, following various changes during the consultation process.

Councillor Alan Mosley, leader of Shropshire Council’s Labour group, said: “This is an incredible amount of money to spend planning a road, the claimed benefits of which are highly questionable. The overall cost to the council of building the road is incalculable and the environmental destruction involved is enormous.

"I was delighted that Shrewsbury Town Council supported our motion calling for the refusal of the planning application and a halt to further development, a move which clearly reflects growing public opposition throughout the county."

Concerns have been growing that the road will be more expensive than originally thought, leaving Shropshire Council to foot the bill for any overspend, since the Department for Transport’s contribution is capped at £54m.

Councillor David Vasmer, the recently elected leader of Shropshire’s Liberal Democrats, said: “There is now a valid concern that the North West Relief Road cannot be built on budget. Rising construction costs are being seen across the UK as the economy rebounds following the pandemic and they will impact huge infrastructure projects in Shropshire too. The boost the pandemic has given to home working and meetings online is justification enough for a review of this road.”

Shrewsbury mayor, Councillor Julian Dean of the Green Party, said: “The road is not only an ecological disaster, it is a financial one too. It’s already draining money away from vital services throughout Shropshire.

"We want to know how any overspend will be funded and what assets will be sold to pay for it. Shropshire Council has already lost £37m on the Shrewsbury shopping centres purchase and we can’t let this road become another money pit.”