North West Relief Road: The long campaign to make link road a reality
It was the road that many people thought would never be built.
But within the next three years Shrewsbury could have a complete ring road encircling the town – taking traffic away from its narrow medieval streets and rural lanes.
Over the years, business leaders, politicians and townspeople have called for a road to be built,and the concept of the North West Relief Road was born.
One of those most keen to see the road developed was Graham Galliers, president of Shrewsbury Business Chamber and a well known and respected businessman who died in 2013.
He travelled to London with members of the chamber and Shrewsbury’s MP to meet with the Secretary of State for Transport to discuss the scheme just days before he died of a heart attack.
But while the road did not come to fruition in his lifetime, it now appears the scheme has secured Government funding. The road will provide a new single carriageway road linking the northern and western parts of Shrewsbury.
Decades of planning
The scheme has been decades in the planning and in 2010 a public consultation, organised by Shropshire Council, was held.
The planned road was originally projected to cost £102m, but after a comprehensive spending review by the Department for Transport that figure is now down to £71m.
WATCH: Fly over the planned road
In 2017 Shropshire Council undertook a fresh consultation to get a measure of opinion on the scheme ahead of a new business plan being put forward to the Government department.
The consultation concluded that the majority of the local people, businesses and stakeholders who responded are in favour of building the NWRR and that this majority has increased significantly compared to the 2010 consultation.
In December 2017 Shropshire Council submitted a scheme Outline Business Case under the Department of Transport’s Large Local Majors funding programme.
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Under the new scheme the road will be a 7.3m single carriageway all-purpose road, bounded on both sides by open space and will include a shared footway and cycleway on its southern side.
There will be a speed limit of 60 mph and bridges and crossings will be provided for pedestrians and cyclists.
It will include a new bridge over the River Severn and its flood plain, and a new bridge over the Shrewsbury-Chester railway line and will connect to existing roads with new roundabouts.
The scheme includes landscaping, planting, and environmental mitigation work including the acquisition of Hencott Pool to enable habitat improvements.
The road will end at the existing Battlefield Link Road in the north, and the planned Oxon Link Road in the west. These roads were designed as precursors of a NWRR, and each provides access to business and employment areas.
The Oxon Link Road, which is currently going through Shropshire Council’s planning process, is included in the Marches LEP’s £75 million Growth Deal and will be delivered by 2021 as part of the proposed western Sustainable Urban Extension
Although funding for the North West Relief Road has now been secured, further details as to the timescale of work and when plans will be submitted to Shropshire Council still have to be finalised.
According to the authority, links between the north and west of Shrewsbury are presently very poor. Congestion on existing routes causes delays. As a result, some traffic between north and west uses other, longer routes to avoid the town centre.
Work on the scheme could begin in 2021 with a proposed completion date of 2022.