11 March 2014
This letter from Peter Headicar was sent to The Oxford Times on 10 March 2014 on behalf of Oxford Civic Society Transport group.
CPRE is absolutely right to demand that public consultation on ‘Options’ for Northern Gateway should be put on hold until evidence of its traffic impact is available (Nightmare Vision March 6). This subject was ducked when the proposal was debated at the examination into the City Council’s Core Strategy in 2010 and the Inspector reported that it remained the outstanding issue to be resolved before the development could go ahead.
However the issue of traffic impact in the immediate vicinity is only half the story. Since £18m of public money is now identified in the City Deal for roadworks to facilitate the development one would indeed hope that some improvement is forthcoming. But is this the right way to proceed? Responding to the problem by investing in more roadspace which will result in still higher volumes of traffic here and elsewhere looks like a knee-jerk reaction that should have been consigned to the 20thcentury.
Long-distance traffic on the A40 and to/from the A34 is not open to influence by the actions of local councils. But the bulk of travel taking place in and around Oxford City is. Northern Gateway represents an excellent opportunity to bring to public attention the strategic question of how this travel is to be managed and to plan for the proposed development accordingly. As well as the use of available roadspace this involves matters such as parking provision and management (on and off-street) and investment in alternatives to car use, including the contribution of ‘remote’ park and ride sites to get motorists to switch modes at an earlier stage of their journey.
The ‘Options’ document does not present the range of possibilities available and alternative uses of the public money currently earmarked solely for road schemes. It should.
Oxford Civic Society Transport Group