Shropshire Star

North West Relief Road campaigners speak out against Shrewsbury A5 services plan

A bid to build a new services off the A5 near Shrewsbury has attracted the opposition of campaigners battling against the town's relief road.

Last updated
The Churncote Roundabout, where the A5 meets the A458 Welshpool Road

The proposals, for land next to Churncote Island, on the outskirts of the town, will go back before Shropshire Council's Northern Planning Committee tomorrow.

At a meeting in April councillors voted to defer a decision on the proposal owing to concerns about the impact on congestion on the nearby road network – as well as the level of financial contribution towards the council's North West Relief Road (NWRR).

The plans include a petrol station and drive-through coffee shop – with extra units including offices and a restaurant dropped after a previous application was refused last year.

Better Shrewsbury Transport (BeST), which has been campaigning against the plans for the relief road, has submitted a written objection to the proposals.

Planning officers are recommending the application is approved, saying there is no way to alter the current proposed access onto Welshpool Road – adding that highways officers have no concerns about the plan.

A report from planning officer Mike Davies states: “The road safety issues in relation to the proposed access and egress to the site have been carefully assessed using accepted industry modelling and the assessment demonstrates that the highway arrangements are acceptable.”

If approval is granted the applicant will make an £80,000 contribution towards the North West Relief Road, but at last month’s meeting councillors questioned why the figure was so low.

Planning officers said it was because the application only covered part of the allocated site, the total contribution for which was agreed at £177,000 in 2014 and was therefore “set in stone” – despite inflation since then.

However Mr Davies’s updated report says the applicant “has agreed in principle to the idea of the contribution being index-linked as requested by the elected members”.

Emma Bullard, who submitted the written evidence to the committee on behalf of BeST, said they disputed the council's view over the entrance and exit to the site.

She said: "The big problem with this application is around safe access to the proposed site.

"The current design puts road users in danger as almost all the site’s traffic, including tankers delivering fuel, will come off Churncote Island and have to wait to turn right across westbound traffic. This increases the chance of accidents. Meanwhile, people on foot trying to cross towards the service station won’t have a controlled crossing; and cyclists will be at risk because there is no protected cycle infrastructure.

"We understand that access proposals are due to be agreed in writing by the planning authority before the service station can start operating. This makes no sense. If a safe access route is possible, why isn’t it being detailed in the planning application so the committee can scrutinise it?"

She added: ‘Offering just £80,000 towards a new road that is now likely to cost around £160m is neither here nor there. The real question is: what happens if the NWRR doesn’t get built? Will the applicant still pay the contribution to Shropshire Council or not? It highlights the ridiculousness of deciding this application ahead of the NWRR going to planning.

"If the NWRR is built and demand for this service station increases as a result, then the problems around safe access will be even worse."

EG Group, which is behind the plans, says they will generate 21 new jobs.