Wales left with £24m ghost town for scrapped M4 relief road

The £150million road to nowhere: Wales is left with a ghost town after spending taxpayer’s money on £24m worth of houses to make way for M4 relief road – which has been scrapped

  • The Welsh Government has been blasted for sitting on £22m worth of houses 

The Welsh government has been criticised after it emerged they spent £24.6m on 38 properties along a planned £150m M4 relief road – only for the project to be scrapped. 

As a result, Mark Drakeford’s government now owns 31 properties around Newport in South Wales with a combined value of about £22million after they sold seven for £2.1million. 

The Telegraph reports that after Mr Drakeford axed the relief road in 2019, none of the properties which are principally located in the community of Coedkernew have been sold. 

The scrapping of the M4 relief road between Junctions 23 and 29 has been one of the most controversial decisions of Mr Drakeford’s tenure as First Minister of Wales as £150million had already been spent on planning for the road. 

The move sparked fury from local business leaders, including beer giant Budweiser who brew along the motorway, due to the frequent heavy delays along the Newport section of the road. 

Many of the properties are located in the Coedkernew area close to Newport and the M4. This map shows the location of the M4, the proposed new relief road and the properties bought by the government 

The Welsh government spent a £24.6million on the properties including this house in Coedkernew for a reported £725,000

This property in Newport was reportedly bought for £300,000 by the Welsh government but still sits empty

It was hoped that the 14 mile stretch of relief road would have provided the local Welsh economy with a boost. 

However Mr Drakeford argued there was no ‘compelling case in the public interest’ to build the new motorway.

The route would bypass through many small communities on the periphery of Newport including Coedkernew, Nash and Mager. 

The area, which is heavily industrialised, has been blighted by fly tipping issues in recent years. 

Last year, after it was left to decay, a stretch of abandoned dual carriageway near Coedkernew was dubbed ‘The Road to Nowhere’ after a major clear up operation resulted in the removal of 1,800 flytipped tyres. 

The news that so many of the houses bought by compulsory purchase sit empty years later has angered many people in Wales including the Conservative opposition. 

The Welsh government bought this cottage for £132, 500 in 1998

Roads in the area were blighted by fly tipping as recently as last year with locals dubbing it the ‘Road to Nowhere’

Speaking to the Telegraph, Welsh Conservative Shadow Transport Minister Natasha Asghar said: ‘Mark Drakeford cancelled the M4 relief road, against the advice of independent experts, the people of South Wales and his own party’s manifesto. 

‘The Labour Government in Wales quite literally spent £150 million of taxpayer money on a road to nowhere.

‘This is a classic example of an out of touch band of incompetent socialists in Cardiff Bay who frankly couldn’t run a bath, let alone the sale and resale of commercial properties.

‘It is our view that all of these properties should be tenanted or sold to recuperate the costs imposed on the taxpayer.’

A spokesman for the Welsh Government said: ‘We are working with the local authority to establish if any of the properties along the route are suitable for social housing schemes.

‘If any of the properties are deemed not suitable for housing, we will consider selling them.’

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