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SHREWSBURY NORTH WEST RELIEF ROAD

This remains a hugely controversial project.  The original planning application 21/00924/EIA was made in March 2021 and was updated in early February 2023, with the intention of dealing with objections by the Environment Agency and others. Better Shrewsbury Transport (BeST) are heading up a coalition of groups that includes Shropshire Wildlife Trust, Shrewsbury FoE , ourselves, Sustainable Transport Shropshire and XR Shrewsbury as well as the local Green and Liberal Democrat parties.  There has been unprecedented opposition to this environmentally damaging scheme with well over 5,300 objections on the planning website, which is an astonishing number of objections and which shows the enormous opposition to it.  In the May 2021 Shropshire Council elections, the former leader Peter Nutting lost his Copthorne seat because of this opposition. The reasons behind all the  objections are multiple but include the loss of irreplaceable habitat, including the iconic Darwin Oak, and the threat to Shrewsbury's drinking water supply.

Following the Government’s decision to scrap the northern part of HS2, with the spin-off that it says part of the moneys so saved will be used to ”fully fund” the NWRR, the application was sent to the Northern Planning Committee (NPC) on 31 October, before most people thought it was ready (because the Environment Agency's (EA) objections about its effect on Shrewsbury's drinking water supply had not been dealt with).  Nevertheless, the NPC resolved to pass the application, but required that the 36 planning conditions, including those dealing with the drinking water issue, be brought back to committee.

The EA are deeply unhappy about the NPC decision on 31 October and have explained why in a detailed 13-page letter dated 12 December 2023.  Amongst other things, they imply that officers misled the NPC about the stance that the EA was taking.  There is now to be an extra meeting of the NPC on 18 January 2024 "to discuss the conditions for the NWRR planning application".  The Council will have to come up with something credible to counteract the blast from the EA.

 

There are many examples throughout the country of relief roads and by-passes that have attempted to overcome perceived transport bottlenecks; however in virtually all cases relief has proved temporary and the original problem has returned as additional traffic has built up.

The proposals for a NWRR have been around for decades.  In 2004 CPRE in conjunction with Shropshire Council carried out a Landscape Character Survey around the then perimeter of the town of Shrewsbury.  The completed survey covered 66 separate parcels of land which were subdivided by the quality and character of their landscape.  Only 14 of the 66 land parcels surveyed warranted a Category 1 classification.  This was defined as: “Landscape which is outstandingly rich in character. It is generally undeveloped and unaffected by any surrounding development, which, if present, is well screened. In many cases (but not all) these areas are associated with the Severn Valley. Most of these areas include rights of way which are widely used for leisure activities. Development within or adjacent to these areas would be extremely detrimental to the Shropshire landscape as a whole, and to the setting and character of Shrewsbury in particular.”

 

No less than 8 of the 14 Category 1 areas lie in the northwest sector of the town.

 

The proposed NWRR would drive straight through this relatively undeveloped area.  Once the road was completed, or even before completion, residential, commercial and industrial development alongside the road would bring noise and pollution and rapidly destroy the character of the area.

 

A map of the survey results can be seen on the Landscape Character Survey page.  

 

CPRE believes that the destruction of the countryside that the North West Relief Road would result in outweighs any benefits it might bring.

Updated December 2023

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