Shropshire Star

Council is given conditions it must stick to in order to keep £4.2m of relief road funding

Work on Shrewsbury’s North West Relief Road must be underway by early 2025 in order to avoid losing vital funding for the scheme.

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The viaduct at Shelton would be the biggest bridge ever built in the county.

The Oxon Link Road portion of the road was awarded £4.2m by the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) in 2015 – but the LEP had threatened to pull its funding due to the delay in bringing the project forward.

Now, Shropshire Council must commence work by March 2025, or risk the LEP triggering a ‘claw-back’ of the money.

A board meeting of the LEP held at Ludlow Racecourse today spelled out four conditions for Shropshire Council, including appointing a contractor for the scheme by the end of June this year.

“This is very much a belt-and-braces approach to the Oxon Link Road (OLR) and that particular project,” said LEP chair Sonia Roberts.

“The concern that they might not go ahead for whatever reason with the road is that we have a clause in there that allows for claw-back to take place and we itemised four points.

“In the event of a judicial review and the planning permission is overturned we feel that would be reason to trigger a claw-back.

“By the end of December this year, following an assessment of the tenders and submission of the full business case to DfT, that the council is able to confirm that the funding is in place to complete the OLR.”

Shropshire Council director of place Mark Barrow told the LEP that the authority szx comfortable with the proposed conditions and is hoping to appoint a contractor for the wider scheme by the autumn.

Final planning conditions for the North West Relief Road were agreed by the council’s planning committee last week.

“We’ve got a very healthy basket of big, national, reputable contractors really interested in delivering the scheme. That’s important here because when you’ve got your final price from your contractor that’s what goes into your business case so the two are linked,” said Mr Barrow.

“It’s one of the reasons we’ve been very cautious about publicly talking about the value of the whole scheme because you want that contractor environment to be competitive.

“In terms of a judicial review, we haven’t had one yet – complex and contentious schemes often do attract them but we feel that the extensive environmental assessments that have gone on to date put us in a very strong position to rebut anything that should arrive.

“I don’t think we’re worried about meeting those conditions. We’re therefore comfortable with the dates and the time-lines,” he added.