Shropshire Star

Shropshire Council misses out on three 'levelling up' bids in Budget

Multi-million pound bids for major infrastructure projects in three Shropshire towns have missed out on Government funding.

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The Riverside and Smithfield Road area of Shrewsbury

In his autumn budget on Wednesday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak revealed 105 schemes across the country would get a slice of £1.7 billion in the first round of the government’s Levelling Up Fund (LUF).

Shropshire Council submitted bids to the fund earlier this year for major development projects in Shrewsbury, Oswestry and Craven Arms – but all were overlooked in yesterday’s announcement.

The projects included redeveloping Shrewsbury's riverside, a new skate park in Oswestry and developing transport links in Craven Arms.

The council says it remains committed to the projects and will continue to push for funds in future rounds of the LUF – which is expected to dish out a total of up to £4.8 billion.

Councillor Ed Potter, deputy leader and portfolio holder for economic growth, regeneration and planning, said: “Yesterday’s announcement related to £1.7bn of a £4.8bn programme and there will be future rounds to bid to.

“The award criteria for LUF focusses on three key areas – strategic fit, value for money and deliverability.

“We feel that we made a strong case in each of these areas but we need feedback from Government to see if there is more we need to do, or if it simply relates to the area classification as set by Government earlier this year.

“They set a three-level category, of which Shropshire was placed in level two and, on the face of it, it looks as though the first round awards have gone to those in level one.

“We always knew that getting support in preference to designated level one places would be challenging, but we remain keen to show Government the level of ambition we have in Shropshire.”

In Shrewsbury, the money was set to fund demolition work and site preparation as part of ambitious plans to re-shape the entire Smithfield Road and Riverside areas of the town.

The bid also requested money for work across the town centre including pavement widening, traffic calming and wayfinding.

The bid for Craven Arms was set to fund a huge scheme of works including a new roundabout on the A49, a road bridge over the railway line, and spine roads and utility provision on key employment sites.

The project would also have opened up allocated housing sites, supporting future growth aspirations for the town.

A third bid was made for a “package of projects” in two areas of Oswestry – improvements to public spaces and empty buildings in the town centre, and preparing housing and business sites at Mile End for development. It would also have funded a new skate park.

Councillor Potter added: “We will continue to promote these schemes to government in future rounds of funding and possibly as part of the emerging ‘County Deal’ process.

“We remain committed to the delivery of them, with the Oswestry and Shrewsbury bids being more about acceleration than additional work and the Craven Arms submission requires further planning and land use work to explore alternative ways of securing the necessary investment in the A49.”

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