Work has started on a new multi-million pound link road which will unlock land for development – with the potential to create hundreds of jobs – and reduce congestion on the A500 in Stoke-on-Trent.

The Etruria Valley Link Road will create a new 1km road between the Wolstanton junction of the A500 through to St Modwen Park Stoke Central and Festival Park, one of the six key employment sites of Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone. This crucial infrastructure is to improve connectivity for existing businesses in the area and trigger inward investment and economic growth by opening up opportunities on currently unused land.

The start of work on the 24-month project is the result of a collaborative effort between Stoke-on-Trent City Council, which is delivering the scheme, St. Modwen Industrial & Logistics, and key funders the Department for Transport, Growing Places Fund and Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP. Balfour Beatty has been appointed as the main contractor to deliver the link road, with the company expecting a workforce of approximately 120 workers at the peak of the construction.

Building the link road will require some complex engineering challenges, including: A new central roundabout linking an extended Shelton Boulevard and Festival Way to the A500, New bridges over the West Coast Mainline railway, Trent and Mersey Canal and Fowlea Brook, Improving the two roundabouts at the Wolstanton junction on the A500, enlarging the existing Marina Way / Festival Way roundabout at Festival Park, and improving the existing Grange Lane / High Street junction in Wolstanton and Creating a new route for cyclists and pedestrians between Newport Lane and Shelton Boulevard.

The new link road follows on from the recent widening of the A500 between Porthill and Wolstanton by Highways England, which was completed in July ahead of schedule. The project is costing £43.3 million, which includes contributions from the city council (£11.5m), DfT (£18.5m), LEP (£8.2m) and Growing Places Fund (£2.4m). The link road will be a big change to the landscape and to mitigate the impact, more than 25,000 m2 of planting and seeding including 300 trees will take place. A 200-metre section of the Fowlea Brook will also be diverted and naturalised.

Councillor Daniel Jellyman, cabinet member for regeneration, infrastructure and heritage, said: “The link road is a really big moment for Stoke-on-Trent and a key part of our Powering Up campaign to support the economic recovery of the city through the coronavirus. It’s going to unlock substantial inward investment, stimulate economic growth and deliver jobs for the city. This road is something that has been talked about and suggested for years, so we’re really pleased to be on site physically delivering the project. It’s another example of how we are getting things done in Stoke-on-Trent. We are a growing city and it’s vital our transport network and infrastructure is able to match-up with our ambitions to make Stoke-on-Trent a great place to live, work, invest in and visit. The project is backed by the Department for Transport at a national level, who recognise like we do, the link road’s huge potential to be a major economic driver by reducing congestion and further opening up an employment site which is already home to thousands of workers and global companies. This road will make the city more connected and more sought after when it comes to investment.

“By reducing congestion on the A500 we will also improve air quality, and I’m pleased hundreds of trees will be planted as part of the work. This is one of the biggest road improvements schemes we’ve seen in the city for many years and I’m excited to see it begin to take shape in the months ahead.”

The new link road will also serve more than 85,000 sq ft of adjacent industrial and logistics development space, which was delivered by St. Modwen Industrial & Logistics in July 2020. Comprising of a 43,000 sq ft trade park scheme, which was acquired by the city council last year, and a speculative 43,311 sq ft unit, occupiers at St. Modwen Park Stoke Central are set to become major beneficiaries of the link road scheme, allowing for more direct access to the A500.

Stuart Murray, development director at St. Modwen Industrial & Logistics, said: “This venture unlocks new land for development, offering up the potential for St. Modwen to create over 500,000 sq ft of manufacturing and logistics units, creating hundreds more jobs for the region.”

Thomas Edgcumbe, Balfour Beatty’s managing director for its North and Midlands regional business, said: “We are delighted to have been appointed to deliver the Etruria Valley Link Road for the council. We look forward to starting this project which will help to improve connectivity, reduce congestion and improve journey times. Through the scheme, we aim to maximise the social impact on the area by focusing on local spend and providing a number of apprentice and work experience positions for local residents.”

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