The Shrewsbury North West Relief Road (NWRR) will provide a new, single carriageway road linking the northern and western parts of Shrewsbury. It will include a new bridge over the River Severn and its flood plain, and a new bridge over the Shrewsbury-Chester railway line. The NWRR will connect the A5 at Welshpool Road roundabout in the west to the Ellesmere Road roundabout in the north.
In August 2019 Shropshire Council withdrew its planning application for the Oxon Link Road in Shrewsbury, and has included the proposed road within the planning application for the NWRR. By combining the schemes, the Oxon Link Road can more easily contribute to the strategic objective of the NWRR, whilst also better delivering on the link road’s specific goal of facilitating the Shrewsbury West Urban Extension (SUE).
A public consultation was held in early 2020 to give stakeholders and residents an opportunity to comment on the combined scheme in advance of the planning application, which was submitted on 19 February 2021. This consultation is now closed but details can still be found on our consultation portal.
A revised planning application was submitted on 26 August 2021, which included a number of changes, made in response to the feedback we had, plus detailed surveying of the proposed site, allowing for lower carbon construction methods, less construction traffic and more reusing of earth to build embankments.
The NWRR was granted planning permission, subject to agreement of the Section 106 and conditions, on 31 October 2023. These conditions, 62 in total, were considered and approved at planning committee on 15 February 2024. Work to complete the required Section 106 agreements is now taking place, which will allow for full planning permission to be granted this spring (2024).
Alongside this, work is also underway to prepare for the building of the road and create a full business case (FBC) which will be considered by full council before being shared with the Department for Transport (DfT) later this year.
It’s only when the scheme receives DfT approval that we can complete the procurement process and work can start.
Estimated cost of the proposed North West Relief Road
With the revised application, the estimated cost of building the proposed road has been reduced from £87.1m to £80.1, saving £7 million. An up-to-date figure will be included in the FBC.
In March 2019, the DfT awarded £54m towards the construction of the road, and the Marches LEP awarded £4m towards the costs of the Oxon Link road section. Shropshire Council will provide the balance of the cost, and the responsibility for any cost increases.
In October 2023, the secretary of state for transport Mark Harper MP, in an interview with the BBC, said the government would fund 100% of the North West Relief Road: “Because of inflation, local authorities have struggled to meet their funding so we’ve committed to paying the whole cost, bringing forward when the project can be delivered.”
This is greatly welcomed by the council, and we look forward to formal confirmation of this.
Trees and woodland affected by the scheme
In reaching its decision to approve the application for the North West Relief Road (NWRR), subject to agreement of Section 106 and conditions, the planning committee took account of the importance, value and significance of the nine veteran trees and other trees and woodland affected by the scheme.
Since this decision, the council has received a number of requests from the public to make a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) on the nine veteran trees to be removed to enable construction of the NWRR. Although it should be noted that two of the nine trees are already protected under TPOs that existed prior to the planning application being submitted.
The council doesn't consider it beneficial at this stage to make a new TPO related to the NWRR for the following reasons:
- Under tree protection legislation, a TPO does not provide protection against removal of a tree where necessary to implement a full planning permission. It's therefore not possible to apply a TPO to the seven unprotected veteran trees that under approved plans are to be removed to implement the NWRR scheme.
- In the event of a legal challenge to the planning permission, the situation will be reviewed.
As part of the Compensation Strategy for the NWRR, 84 new trees will be planted to replace the nine veteran trees to be lost and 14 others remaining but affected by the scheme, in locations chosen to afford the new trees the best chance of becoming veteran trees of the future. In addition, some 4ha of new native woodland is to be planted and fully costed, bespoke veteran tree and woodland management plans will be put in place to enhance the condition of 26 other veteran trees, an area of ancient woodland and two Local Nature Reserve sites affected by the operational impacts of the NWRR.
This compensation is a vital part of a much wider legacy of thousands of new trees and several kilometres of hedgerows to be planted under the approved landscaping scheme. As well as trees, there are plans to create biodiverse corridors and make much-needed improvements to natural habitats which will attract and support a variety of wildlife.