Draft Core Strategy January 2011

Draft Core Strategy January 2011 - interactive online version

9 Transport and Movement

9.1 Access to services and facilities is fundamental to the delivery of sustainable development and a healthy local economy. However accessibility does not necessarily involve movement, as demonstrated by the phenomenal increase in use of the internet for work and leisure purposes. Almost a quarter of the workers in the rural areas outside Witney and Carterton are now home based although a likely deficiency of next generation broadband in rural areas could impact upon future employment patterns.

9.2 Although national policy seeks to minimise the need to travel, especially by car, this must be seen in the rural context of West Oxfordshire where there is often no safe or convenient travel alternative to use of the private car. Rail is not convenient for many residents as the towns and most villages are not directly served by railway lines or stations. The rural road network is a limiting factor on the scale of development that can be satisfactorily accommodated.

9.3 The District Council has very limited transport powers, primarily confined to car parking provision and its management. Close working with Oxfordshire County Council and the Rural Community Council remains essential. However the District Council, as local planning authority, does have a key input to improving accessibility through control over the location of new development which in turn influences the need to travel and how people may travel. The availability of services and facilities and the scope for improvement, including public transport, is a major influence upon the settlement strategy and the location of future development.

9.4 Although the strategy aims to improve the range and quality of local services and facilities to meet most of the needs of West Oxfordshire's residents, the employment, leisure and health facilities at the nearby centres of Oxford and Swindon will remain an attraction. This is particularly the case for those locations closest to Oxford such as Eynsham and Woodstock.

Roads and rail

9.5 The main transport routes are shown on the Key Diagram. Witney continues to be the main focus of new highway schemes reflecting past and continuing growth of the town (see the separate Witney section). New schemes will be pursued (subject to funding) where they can help bring about environmental benefits such as improvements to safety or air quality.

9.6 The A40 is the main east-west transport route with congestion on the section between Witney and Oxford amongst the most severe transport problems in Oxfordshire. One cause of the congestion is insufficient capacity at the Wolvercote and Cutteslowe roundabouts (outside the District) with the traffic lights and junctions at Eynsham and Cassington adding to the problem. The resultant congestion severely impacts upon timing of bus services, particularly at peak times.

9.7 The County Council has been developing its Access to Oxford project for delivery between 2013 and 2015 but this is currently on hold in the absence of Government funding.  An important part of this project is aimed at reducing queuing on the A40 and A44 by tackling congestion to the north of Oxford at and on the approaches to the main roundabouts, including Wolvercote and Cutteslowe.  Key aspects of this will be intercepting more journeys by public transport and helping to improve journey time reliability. 

9.8 The River Thames creates the southern boundary of the District where the only road crossings are historic bridges, mainly of single vehicle width. Currently none of these have an ability to carry all modern vehicles. The Scheduled Ancient Monument of Newbridge dating back to the twelfth century carries the A415 over the Thames and the bridge structure is deteriorating. A weight restriction order is in operation. As a potential solution to the current situation, Oxfordshire County Council has been investigating a new river crossing and approach roads away from the present bridge.

9.9 All potential transport schemes for the medium to longer term are being reviewed through the Oxfordshire Local Transport Plan 2030.

9.10 Welcome improvements to the Cotswold railway line are underway with a second track being laid from east of Charlbury to Ascott-under-Wychwood. This should significantly reduce delays to trains using the current single line and increase capacity. Proposals to increase the effectiveness of local stations will be pursued as and when funding comes forward, such as extension of platforms, improved parking facilities and bus connections. New platforms are proposed for Charlbury and Ascott during 2011.

Alternative means of travel

9.11 Opportunities for increased walking, cycling and use of bus services will be promoted. This is a fundamental component of the latest Oxfordshire Transport Plan (LTP3). Improvements will include safe, direct and attractive walking and cycling routes and good quality facilities at bus stops. New and improved footpaths and cycleways will be provided in conjunction with proposed development.

9.12 West Oxfordshire is a predominantly rural area where access to frequent bus services is currently limited, particularly in evenings. The only commercial service providing at least a 30 minute frequency connects Carterton and Witney to Oxford stopping in the villages of Brize Norton, Curbridge, Minster Lovell and Eynsham en route. Oxfordshire Rural Community Council continues to support rural community transport.

9.13 A reasonable amount of available car parking space is seen as part of the continued viability of our town centres and main employment areas. We shall continue to balance car parking requirements at destinations with the need to promote alternative means of travel wherever possible and feasible. Requirements for travel plans will be informed by the scale and likely impact of development proposals.

Policy CS26 - Transport and Movement

Priority will be given to locating new development in areas with convenient access to a reasonable range of services and facilities and where the need to travel by private car, particularly where it would add to traffic congestion around Oxford, can be minimised.

West Oxfordshire District Council will work with the highway authority, local councils and other organisations, including the Oxfordshire Rural Community Council, bus and rail operators, to:

  • provide safe and convenient travel within and between the network of towns and villages in West Oxfordshire, particularly for pedestrians, cyclists and users of public transport
  • promote use of public transport services, cycling and walking through improved supporting infrastructure and information
  • secure appropriate improvements to the road network to help reduce congestion and accommodate the safe movement of people and goods whilst minimising adverse impacts on the environment
  • secure traffic management and environmental improvement schemes to help improve the attractiveness of the area and quality of life, especially air quality and safety for all residents and visitors
  • promote improvement and extension of electronic communications to support local businesses and services and help reduce the need to travel.

Design solutions will improve conditions for pedestrians and cyclists and will minimise the impact of both parked and moving vehicles upon the local environment. 

Proposals for new developments that have significant transport implications either in themselves or with other proposals will be required to include a transport assessment. Travel plans should form part of development proposals that potentially will attract large numbers of traffic movements.

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