Relief road "stuck in laborious planning process" says MP

An MP has criticised the "slow and laborious" planning process which he says is delaying work on an multi-million pound road scheme in the county.

Artist's impression of the north-west relief road over the river Severn at Shelton, near Shrewsbury
Artist's impression of the north-west relief road over the river Severn at Shelton, near Shrewsbury

Daniel Kawczynski voiced frustration in the House of Commons that the Shrewsbury north-west relief road was "still stuck in the planning process".

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

Mr Kawczynski, MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, had lobbied the Government for funding on the controversial road scheme, which he said was vital to easing the gridlock around the town's narrow streets.

But in a debate in the House of Commons last week, he voiced concerns about delays to the scheme being given the final go-ahead.

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

He told the Commons that more than £50 million funding had been secured from the Government for the scheme.

"What is he doing to ensure that the road building projects that we secure for our constituencies do not get stuck in the planning process?" he said. "Some of us are finding the planning process very laborious and complex."

He asked Mr Merriman if the select committee had been in talks with the Government to look at ways of streamlining the planning process for new roads.

Mr Merriman said that his committee had “pledged” to address the matter.

Mr Kawczynski has said the four-mile road, linking Battlefield to Churncote, is necessary to reduce congestion in the town centre and to boost the economy.

But the scheme has attracted 4,500 objections.

A spokeswoman for Shropshire Council said this week that she expected the scheme to go before the planning committee in the autumn at the earliest possible opportunity.

"The full forecast cost of the road, including Oxon link road) subject to planning approval, would then be set out in a paper to councillors around the end of the year to agree the submission of the full business case to the Department for Transport," she said.

"Given rising costs across the whole economy and in particular the construction industry, it is fair to assume the scheme’s cost will inevitably be higher than the road's original budget."

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

"We are looking at a range of ways that any increase in budget can be met while minimising any extra financial burden on the council," she said.

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