Shrewsbury relief road cost estimate 'belongs in cloud cuckoo-land' says group

Campaigners against the Shrewsbury North West Relief Road have raised fresh concerns over the project’s financial viability after it was revealed the Pant-Llanymynech bypass could cost £378 million.

An artist's impression of how Shrewsbury's North West Relief Road may look
An artist's impression of how Shrewsbury's North West Relief Road may look

Better Shrewsbury Transport (BeST) says the new figures – revealed in a series of Freedom of Information requests submitted to the Department for Transport (DfT) – show that the proposed Pant-Llanymynech bypass will cost between £165 and £378 million.

The campaign group says the figures, taken from an extensive feasibility study of the proposed road, offer an important comparison point for the cost of the Shrewsbury road project. The NWRR’s £80m estimate is based on 2017 prices. Campaigners argue this does not reflect the widespread inflation that has occurred over the last five years, particularly in the construction sector.

The DfT’s study assessed several options for the Pant-Llanymynech bypass, including a medium, single carriageway, 4.5km bypass costing £165m and a long, single carriageway 6km bypass costing £233m. Addition of a full over-bridge increased these costs to £265m and £378m respectively.

Speaking for Better Shrewsbury Transport, Mike Streetly said: ‘These figures show that Shropshire Council’s current estimate for the NWRR is a total fantasy." The council's most recent estimate for the cost of the road is in the region of £80m. Mr Streetly added: "The Pant-Llanymynech bypass is estimated to cost at least twice that amount, even though it is shorter and doesn’t include a major viaduct over the River Severn. The estimate belongs in cloud cuckoo land.’

Shropshire Council is currently preparing a full business case for the NWRR, which is expected to be presented in December and will include updated costs.

Mr Streetly said: "The NWRR is continuing to spiral into a financial blackhole. Last week the council admitted that it has already spent £18m on preparatory work on the NWRR, almost twice what was budgeted. This equates to £500,000 per month since the funding was granted in 2019 without an inch of road to show for it.

"We’re calling on Shropshire Council to wake up and face reality now, rather than wasting even more public money by waiting until December. If they don’t, the full business case is destined to become the nightmare before Christmas."

Shropshire Council has been contacted for a comment.

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