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Marches LEP sets November deadline for Oxon Link Road funding decision

The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership will make a final decision about whether to continue to support the Oxon Link Road (OLR) project at its board meeting in November.

The LEP has agreed to give Shropshire Council time to prepare a refreshed business plan for the Oxon Link Road scheme, which has received £4.2million of LEP investment through the Local Growth Fund.

Board members agreed the business plan should include updated traffic modelling and up-to-date analysis showing that there is still a need for a road and that it offers value for money. This information would need to be produced by the end of October, by which time a planning decision would be expected to have been made.

LEP chair Sonia Roberts MBE said the board wanted Shropshire Council to demonstrate that there was still a strong business case for the money to be invested in the OLR.

“The board will consider this new information and the outcome of the planning decision at its meeting in November and make a final decision about whether to continue to support the OLR project.

“We feel we have been very patient with the council having first awarded this funding eight and half years ago. The Marches LEP has a mandate from Government to ensure the best use of public money and is accountable for the appropriate management and oversight of all funding we allocate.

“The board has agreed that in this case the council must provide the evidence that this funding still represents an appropriate use of public money and must also make progress on planning.”

The LEP decision follows continued delays in delivery of the OLR.

The funding was awarded as part of the first round of the Local Growth Fund (LGF) specifically for the 1.14km of the Oxon Link Road, and not for the larger North West Relief Road.

LEP chief executive Rachel Laver said: “This is a significant amount of public money and it is the LEP’s duty to ensure it is used appropriately. We are aware that there are significant other issues which affect this project and this decision seeks to give the council time to address some of those concerns.

“Members will decide in November what is the most appropriate course of action once we have received the updated information we require from Shropshire Council. We continue to have an excellent working relationship with the council.”

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