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Economy Economy

Continue to invest in roads to support new housing and local growth

Last updated: 02:29pm 22 November 2019

We will continue to develop the strategic road network, providing extra lanes on our motorways and improving key routes whilst also paying attention to parts of the country left behind because of poor transport connections. We will continue to invest in roads to fix pinch points and open up opportunities for new housing and local growth.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.24

Our verdict

In July 2017 the government announced a Transport Investment Strategy, which included the creation of a “Major Road Network” (MRN) to enable local authorities to upgrade A roads under their management. The MRN also specifies objectives such as reducing congestion, making the road network more reliable, supporting new housing, rebalancing the economy and improving productivity. The most recent progress update in December 2018 called for bids from local authorities for their top ten priority schemes.

Also mentioned in the Transport Investment Strategy was the Road Investment Strategy, which began under the previous government and is ongoing. The first phase runs from 2015 to 2020 and has seen more than a third of its projects cancelled or delayed. The second phase will take place during 2020-25, and the government has earmarked £25.3 billion to pay for it. In addition, the government has announced that an extra 18 road schemes, costing £100 million, have been given permission to move to the next stage of development.

In terms of meeting the objective of fixing “pinch points”, it’s worth noting that the policy of road building is criticised by some for environmental reasons, but also on the grounds that new roads often simply fill up with more traffic.

The government’s planned road schemes have a long way to go before completion, and there is no guarantee that they will achieve their objectives of reducing congestion, generating economic growth and promoting new housing. However, this is a policy to “continue to invest”, and on that basis we think there’s enough evidence to consider it ‘done’.

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