More than 1,000 objections to Shrewsbury North West Relief Road plans

More than 1,000 people have objected to the plans for the £87 million Shrewsbury North West Relief Road.

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

The planning application for the road went live on Shropshire Council’s website last month, and as of Wednesday, 1,004 people had lodged formal objections, compared to just 52 letters of support and four neutral comments.

Campaigners fighting the development say objections could top 2,000 within a matter of weeks, which they say demonstrates the strength of opposition to the project.

Road to Ruin Shropshire has processed hundreds of objections through its website, working with Better Shrewsbury Transport, and says it has another 600 to submit – with the figure still rising daily.

A Road to Ruin spokesman said: “Clearly there’s huge opposition to the road across the county.

"It’s worth noting that objections are coming in from all over Shropshire, not just Shrewsbury.

“We estimate well over 90 per cent of comments on the portal are against the road, and the pro-road comments are limited to ‘get it built, should have done it years ago’, which is in stark contrast to the detailed and well-thought out objections.”

Most objections relate to the scheme being incompatible with the climate emergency declared by the council in May 2019, the felling of ancient trees and destruction of habitats, loss of the tranquil “green wedge” to the north of the town, and fears over the water supply.

'Out-of-date'

Objectors also say traffic models have been rendered out-of-date as a result of changes to people’s lifestyles and working arrangements brought about by the pandemic, and question how reliable they were to start with.

An objection from the Leith Planning Group, on behalf of Morris Leisure which owns Oxon Touring Park, said it is “unacceptable” that the council has not published “any details of calculations of either traffic flows or noise”, preventing the public from being able to properly scrutinise the application.

It says traffic models describing virtually no queuing at Churncote Roundabout are “fundamentally flawed”.

If built, the 6.9 kilometre road would complete the Shrewsbury ring road, joining up Churncote Roundabout to the west with the Ellesmere Road Roundabout to the north.

The scheme also includes what was previously known as the Oxon Link Road, for which a planning application was submitted in 2018 before it was withdrawn to be brought into the main project.

Mike Streetly, from Better Shrewsbury Transport, said: “As the original Oxon Link Road application had 500 objections, which may have influenced the council pulling that application and combining it with NWR, we decided to target 1,000 which we thought would be a challenge.

“It now looks like we may be on track for over 2,000 and note the nationally controversial Cumbria Coal Mine got 2,300 objections to its planning application.

“People are really annoyed with the council for spending so much money on a planning application for a hugely damaging project when there is so much else in the county that is urgently seeking funding.

“Plans to fell the ancient trees were the last straw.

“The fact that we already have 1,000 objections on the website with only 50 supporting the road makes a mockery of the council’s ‘consultation’ exercises which were clearly manipulated to try and show support for this disastrous scheme.”

Funding

The road has been 30 years in the making but if planning permission is granted it could be open by the end of 2023.

To fund the project, the council has been awarded a £54.4m government grant and £4.2 million from the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership.

The council will be liable for the remaining £28.5 million, some of which will come from money collected from housing developers through section 106 agreements and the community infrastructure levy (CIL).

A proposed £100 million dam at Shelton has been dropped in favour of a 668-metre viaduct – the biggest bridge ever built in the county.

The council says the road will reduce traffic on some town centre routes by up to 25 per cent, improving air quality and allowing for pedestrianisation schemes to be brought in.

It also claims the road will bring a huge boost to the county economy, open up new housing and employment land in the Oxon area, and free villages to the north of the town from rat-running traffic.

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