Shropshire Star

Shropshire Star comment: Dreaming up future of county

Have no dreams, and your dreams will never come true.

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Shropshire Council leader Peter Nutting

A Shropshire commercial passenger airport, new railway station on the eastern outskirts of Shrewsbury, more riverside restaurants in the county town...

Dreams – or dreamland?

Conceivably a bit of both, as Shropshire Council leader Peter Nutting accepts that his idea of a commercial passenger airport, perhaps at Cosford, doesn't look likely now.

It is interesting that it isn't at all a new idea, and there were similar airport dreams for Shropshire as long ago as the 1930s.

He has raised the possibility of there being a parkway railway station at Preston Boats, close to the A5. This vision seems to have more to do with cars than trains. The railway station in Shrewsbury town centre isn't that convenient for motorists, who have to find somewhere to park up.

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With an out-of-town railway station, there would be plenty of space for parking, and you could catch a shuttle into the town centre – relieving it of traffic – or catch a train there to Birmingham, London, or wherever.

It is worth exploring, as it would neatly link up rail infrastructure with the A5 dual carriageway infrastructure, a move towards a more integrated transport system.

There again, the reason so many of the small stations on the railway system have been closed is that doing so means, rather obviously, that you don't get trains stopping at them. So passengers have swift hub-to-hub train services rather than stop-go, stop-go, train services.

And, you know how these things turn out. If an out-of-town railway station in Shrewsbury proved a great success, then what would be the point of keeping the Victorian, difficult-to-access, station in the town centre?

The prospect of the Riverside centre being demolished brings with it new opportunities, and Councillor Nutting talks of some hotel companies showing an interest in the town, particularly to the Riverside area.

He also wants to see more made of the River Severn in Shrewsbury.

These things will create debate in the town about how it sees its future, and that will inevitably include consideration of how much Shrewsbury wants to change, or indeed whether it wants to change that much at all.

History does suggest that while Shrewsbury can take a while to make up its mind, when it does so it is ready to embrace far-reaching changes, whether it be with the Victorian market hall in the 1860s, the big clearances of the 1930s, the controversial 1960s revolution, and the advent of the 1980s shopping centres.

Councillor Nutting is doing what a leader should do – think ahead.