Junction improvements vital to economy

By Tim Clarke 06/06 Updated: 07/06 15:21

FAILURE to make major improvements to Junction 6 of the M5 could restrict the future growth of Worcester's economy.

The warning comes from the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), which has made a plea to the Highways Agency to fund a raft of improvements to Junction 6, as well as Junction 4 at Bromsgrove.

Peter Pawsey, executive chairman of Worcestershire LEP, said both interchanges represented serious 'pinch points', which were restricting economic growth and employment.

The LEP, which is led by private sector businesses in partnership with local councils and the voluntary sector, wants money allocated from the Highways Agency’s Pinch Point programme to improve the junctions.

Mr Pawsey, who has requested a meeting with Agency bosses, said: “Junction 6 is undoubtedly the more major of the two, its capacity being raised as an impediment to pretty well all significant development to the east or north of Worcester City and within its environs."

Some improvements to the Sixways junction have already been agreed as part of phase one of the proposed creation of a multi-million pound Worcester Technology Park, close to the motorway.

But Mr Pawsey said these did not go far enough.

"There are several other major development proposals in the pipeline for the area, each of which will create additional traffic at the interchange," he added.

"To look at it another way, capacity constraints at the interchange will inhibit the economic growth and job creation in the Worcester area and across the county.

“We strongly believe therefore a more significant and permanent solution to Junction 6 is vital if we are to succeed in our efforts to generate growth and employment in the region.”

Mike Ashton, Chief Executive of the county's Chamber of Commerce, said they supported the calls for improvements to the junction.

"Any long term improvements in this area will support the economic growth of the county. There are parcels of land in this area, which if come forward in a phased way will attract investment for businesses to locate on highly attractive sites," he added.

A spokesman for the Highways Agency said they were currently reviewing proposals made under the Pinch Point programme and expected to announce the results in the autumn.

"We are keen to continue to work with Worcestershire LEP to explore strategies to enable us to support their priorities," he added.

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