North West Relief Road
The 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 would connect to existing roads with new roundabouts. The end points of the NWRR have been determined by 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 important employment and development areas. The Oxon Link Road 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 (SUE).
Location of the proposed NWRR and the current Shrewsbury road network
The key features of the scheme are summarised below:
- The NWRR will be a 7.3m single carriageway all-purpose road with 1.0m margins and at-grade junctions
- The NWRR will be bounded on both sides by open space and will include a shared footway / cycleway on its southern side
- The NWRR will have a speed limit of 60 mph
- Bridges and at-grade crossings will be provided for pedestrians and cyclists to maintain connectivity and ensure safety
The scheme includes landscaping, planting, and environmental mitigation work including the acquisition of Hencott Pool to enable habitat improvements.
During October and November 2017 Shropshire Council undertook a consultation to get a measure of current opinion on the scheme. Details of the consultation material can be found at shropshire.gov.uk/get-involved. Consultation questionnaires were submitted by 633 individuals and businesses; several sent letters or made detailed submissions. 30 Stakeholder groups or organisations submitted responses. 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 when 59% of those who responded supported the scheme. In 2017 overall, 67.5% of those who responded thought that the NWRR should be built compared to 30.3% who were against it and 2.2% who did not know. For more information read the 2017 Consultation Report. (Appendix B of the Shrewsbury NWRR OBC document)
Outline business case
In December 2017 Shropshire Council submitted a scheme Outline Business Case (OBC) under the Department of Transport’s Large Local Majors funding programme and the outcome of the bid is expected in spring 2018. A summary of the OBC it set out below and the full submission can viewed in the Shrewsbury NWRR OBC document and appendices A to R, available under the related documents section of this page.
The OBC for the NWRR follows published DfT guidance, including Web-based Transport Analysis Guidance (WebTAG) and supports a funding request to the Department for Transport (DfT) from Shropshire Council and the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). It explains why the scheme should receive support, and provides a clear audit trail for the purposes of public accountability. It also explains how and why Shropshire Council has decided to put the scheme forward in its current form, and at the present time. It shows that the proposals are based on a realistic analysis of the current situation, a clear vision of how things should be in the future, a careful consideration of options, a robust appraisal of costs and benefits, and a clear plan for delivering the scheme.
The need for the NWRR
Links between the north and west of Shrewsbury are presently very poor. The most direct route passes through the “river loop” and consists entirely of single carriageway, all-purpose roads, including residential and shopping streets. Congestion on these routes causes delays and makes journeys unreliable. As a result, some of the traffic between north and west uses other, longer routes to avoid the town centre. Extra traffic on the distributor ring road and the outer bypass adds to the congestion on these important routes and reduces the resilience of the network. Some traffic uses the network of small lanes to the north-west of Shrewsbury as rat-runs to avoid the town altogether.
Other problems arise directly from this fundamental weakness in Shrewsbury’s transport network. Noise, visual intrusion and poor air quality affect people in residential areas and the town centre, as well as people walking and cycling. Accident rates are higher on roads not designed to modern standards. Journeys to work and for business can be slow and unreliable, adding to the cost of transport (including public transport) and discouraging investment. As Shrewsbury continues to develop and grow, these problems are expected to get worse, affecting the town’s economy and local people’s quality of life.
The benefits of the NWRR
The NWRR will provide a new, high standard, direct route between the north and west of Shrewsbury, offering big time savings for road users. For example, a peak hour journey from A5 Churncote to A49 Battlefield would take about 6 minutes using the NWRR, instead of about 20 minutes through the town centre or 15 minutes on the bypass. Traffic will therefore transfer from the existing routes, reducing congestion and making them more efficient. These benefits will be felt over a wide area, including the outer bypasses and rural lanes, as well as the roads leading into and through the town centre. The NWRR will also help to reduce accidents and carbon emissions, and will improve air quality in areas where people shop, work and live. It will give Shrewsbury a more efficient and resilient road network and support the town’s continued growth and economic development.
The cost of the NWRR
The cost of constructing the NWRR is estimated to be £71,399,500. Shropshire Council is asking the Government to contribute a fixed sum of £54,406,419 from the DfT’s Large Local Major Schemes Fund. Shropshire Council will provide the balance of the cost, estimated at £16,993,081, and accepts responsibility for any cost increases.
Timetable for the delivery of the NWRR
The scheme is programmed to commence in 2021 and will be completed in 2022.
The five cases
The OBC is made up of five separate cases, as prescribed in DfT guidance. These are:
- The strategic case which shows that there is a robust ‘case for change’, closely aligned to wider strategic and public policy objectives
- The economic case which shows that the scheme provides high value for money, based on a formal appraisal undertaken in line with DfT guidance
- The financial case which explains how much the scheme will cost and how it will be paid for, showing that it is affordable
- The commercial case which shows that the scheme is commercially viable
- The management case which shows that the scheme is achievable in practical terms, and explains how the project will be managed to ensure it achieves its objectives.