Sara Williams headshot
Sara Williams

Sara’s blog: Road improvements will be key to our next phase of economic expansion

2 mins read

It’s great news for businesses in our area that road improvements to the A50 and A500 are being discussed at the highest level.

A roundtable meeting with senior officials from the Department for Transport and National Highways (DTNH) took place on Tuesday evening in Parliament to discuss proposed improvements along the A50 and A500, which connects Staffordshire with the East Midlands, potentially creating up to 12,000 jobs across the region. 

The plans discussed include nine individual improvement schemes which aim to reduce congestion, boost the economy and save motorists time and money. 

Areas highlighted for improvement include where Junction 15 of the M6 meets the A500, Sideway roundabout in Stoke-on-Trent, roundabouts at Blythe Bridge and Sudbury and junctions and slip roads at Uttoxeter. 

Midlands Connect, the region’s sub-national transport body which put the masterplan together, believes the route is of “national significance” and the benefits upgrades could bring to the area could be £12 billion. 

Staffordshire Chamber, Local MPs, council leaders and businesses are asking for the project to be included in the upcoming Road Investment Strategies and other schemes along the route to be included in future rounds, covering the period 2025 to 2040. 

These proposed improvements tie in nicely with the new £43 million Etruria Valley Link Road (EVLR) which I spoke about in my blog two weeks ago.

The 1km road connects the Wolstanton junction on the A500 with Festival Park and St Modwen Park Stoke Central and opens up huge development opportunities on former steelworks land to the north of Festival Park including the Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone.

It was also encouraging to hear that green transport and decarbonisation were a part of the discussions. This transport corridor is set to become a national hub for the manufacture of hydrogen engines for vehicles from cars to aeroplanes, in addition to plant and machinery. And streamlining the route will support our collective ambition to ensure we can become a global centre of excellence in this sector in the future. 

The Chambers’ Transport Forum will play an active role in the development of these new roads, keeping up the pressure on the Government and DTNH to ensure proposals are implemented and not watered down.

The forum’s priorities are issues such as: ensuring businesses have access to transport infrastructure and services to facilitate trade and employment; ensuring transport policy supports businesses and employment needs in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire and formulating the Chambers responses to local and national planning consultations. 

Staffordshire Chambers has a well-documented history of lobbying for improvements to all our roads, especially the A500.

The Chamber was instrumental in the campaign to replace the old junctions north and south of Stoke with grade separated junctions.  The new junctions were completed in 2006, 29 years after the A500 or D Road, as it is known locally, opened.

In the 1990s the Chambers published two reports entitled ‘Bottle kilns to bottlenecks’ and ‘A500 – finishing the job’, which put forward the argument for these much-needed improvements.

Prior to 2006 traffic had to navigate two roundabouts causing tailbacks at peak times, adding to the time and cost of journeys for business.

It is also difficult to imagine the heavy traffic, pollution and long journeys prior to 1997 when the improved A50 dual carriageway opened. Until then the A50 was a single carriageway road running from Uttoxeter via many villages to Meir through Longton and Fenton to join the A500.

Improved and efficient transport infrastructure is key to the evolution and growth of Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, and we don’t intend to let up on the pressure to ensure plans are implemented to fulfil our ambitions to be at the forefront of the green economic revolution.

If you would like to get involved with or know more about the Transport Forum contact Declan Riddell:

If you want to talk to us about any business issues, including funding, you can call our switchboard on 01782 202222 or call the Stoke and Staffs Growth Hub Helpline on 0300 111 8002 or email:

Tom Hammersley

Digital Content Officer at Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce. BA hons journalism graduate.

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