Draft Local Plan October 2012

TRANSPORT AND MOVEMENT

Our transport related objectives include:

CO1 Provide new development, services and facilities of an appropriate scale and type in locations which will help improve the quality of life of local communities and where the need to travel, particularly by car, can be minimised.

CO6 Ensure that land is not released for new development until the supporting infrastructure and facilities are secured.

CO7 Maximise the opportunity for walking, cycling and use of public transport.

CO12 Improve access to services and facilities without unacceptably impacting upon the character and resources of West Oxfordshire.

CO14 Reduce the causes and adverse impacts of climate change, especially flood risk.

CO15 Achieve improvements in water and air quality.

CO16 Minimise use of non-renewable natural resources and promote more widespread use of renewable energy solutions.

8.1 Transport is a key issue for West Oxfordshire. Although there are opportunities for walking, cycling and using public transport, as a rural area, there is a general reliance on the private car which contributes towards traffic congestion and poor air quality in some areas as well as climate change more generally.

8.2 The overall transport strategy for Oxfordshire is contained in the Oxfordshire Local Transport Plan 2030 (LTP3) approved by the County Council in April 2011. LTP3 aims to deliver four local transport goals:

  • supporting local economic growth;
  • making it easier to get around the county;
  • reducing the impact of transport on the environment; and
  • promoting healthy, safe and sustainable travel.

8.3 LTP3 contains broad strategies for the three main towns of West Oxfordshire and the rural areas. Opportunities for increased walking, cycling and use of bus services will be promoted alongside making the best use of existing road space through appropriate traffic management measures and developing highway improvement schemes to help reduce congestion. These will contribute to reducing the need to travel by car by providing greater transport choice.

8.4 In accordance with LTP3 and national policy and in the interest of reducing the impacts on climate change, as a general principle, the Local Plan seeks to minimise the need to travel, particularly by private car and maximise the use of sustainable modes of transport including walking, cycling, public and community transport. This must however be seen in the context of West Oxfordshire where in some areas there is no safe or convenient alternative form of transport to the private car. Many towns and villages are not served by railway stations and in some instances have few or no bus services available.

8.5 There are a number of ways through which we can seek to influence travel patterns and choice of transport modes and these are outlined below.

Location and Design of Development

8.6 As we have already explained, the location of development has a direct impact on how often people need to travel and how they choose to travel. This has been a key consideration in the development of the overall strategy which focuses most growth at Witney, Carterton and Chipping Norton, where there are the best opportunities for walking, cycling and using public transport. Ensuring that new development is located where a good range of services and facilities are accessible, means people are more likely to walk, cycle or use public transport in preference to using their car.

8.7 The design of development can also influence travel choices. Good quality pedestrian and cycle routes to key destinations and the provision of cycle parking can for example enable more people to walk or cycle, whilst the provision of a high frequency bus service, with good quality waiting facilities including real-time passenger information can encourage greater use of bus services. Other, broader measures such as the provision of high-speed broadband and the promotion of more flexible, home working also have the potential to help reduce the need to travel and will be favourably supported where appropriate.

8.8 In accordance with the overall strategy, we will as a priority seek to locate new development in areas that benefit from convenient access to a range of services and facilities and where the need to travel, particularly by private car is minimised. We will also favourably support design solutions that maximise opportunities for walking, cycling and the use of public transport as well as home working through measures such as high speed broadband. Where appropriate, developments will be required to monitor the levels of travel by all modes through the use of a Travel Plan.

Highways

8.9 As a largely rural district the highway network plays a key role in West Oxfordshire. The main routes include the A40 Cheltenham to Oxford, the A44 through Woodstock and Chipping Norton, the A361 Swindon to Banbury and the A4260 from Banbury through the eastern part of the District. These are shown on the Key Diagram (Figure 4.1). The provision of a good, reliable and congestion free highway network has a number of benefits including the provision of convenient access to jobs, services and facilities and the potential to unlock and support economic growth. Under the draft Local Plan, the importance of the highway network will continue to be recognised with necessary improvements to be sought where appropriate. This will include the delivery of strategic highway improvements necessary to support growth.

8.10 The A40 is the main east-west transport route with congestion on the section between Witney and Oxford being amongst the most severe transport problems in Oxfordshire and acting as a potential constraint to economic growth. 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 (inside the District) adding to the problem. Severe congestion is also experienced on the A44 at the Bladon roundabout, particularly during the morning peak. Further development in the District will put additional pressure on these highly trafficked routes.

8.11 In light of these problems, Oxfordshire County Council developed its 'Access to Oxford' project and although Government funding has been withdrawn, the County Council is continuing to seek alternative funding for schemes to improve the northern approaches to Oxford, including where appropriate from new development. Given the significance of this issue for the District we will continue to work in partnership with the County Council to deliver improvements to the A40 including where appropriate, seeking contributions from new development towards developing the Oxford northern approaches highway schemes.

8.12 At Witney, traffic congestion has long been a serious concern with an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) having been designated at Bridge Street. Other areas suffering from congestion include the Ducklington Lane junction with Station Lane and Thorney Leys and Witan Way.

8.13 Witney's traffic congestion problems are in large part due to there being only one crossing point across the River Windrush at Bridge Street which acts as a bottleneck to traffic travelling east - west across the town. For some time the proposed solution was the Cogges Link Road (CLR) which would have provided a new link road around the south-eastern edge of Witney and a second river crossing. However, in June 2012 the Compulsory Purchase Order needed for the scheme to go ahead, was rejected by the Secretary of State for Transport, meaning that the scheme is now unlikely to happen.

8.14 Since the CLR decision was received, the District Council has been working closely with the County Council to identify an appropriate alternative transport strategy for Witney and to assess the implications for future growth. Transport modelling has been undertaken the findings of which are available in a separate background paper.

8.15 The modelling work undertaken identifies the following key strategic transport measures at Witney as being necessary to support the level and location of growth identified in the draft Local Plan:

  • Shore's Green Slip Roads (SGSR) - the provision of west facing slip roads at the Shore's Green junction onto the A40
  • Down's Road Junction - the provision of a new all movements, at grade junction on the A40 at Down's Road; and
  • Improvements to the Ducklington Lane/Station Lane area

8.16 A number of potential improvements are also likely to be needed in the central area of Witney to help facilitate the movement of vehicles including buses through the town. To accommodate potential longer-term growth at Witney, the modelling work undertaken indicates that the route of the West End Link (WEL2) should continue to be safeguarded through the Local Plan. Further information on these various proposals and how they will be delivered is set out in the Witney Sub-Area Strategy (Section 9).

8.17 At Carterton, although the road network is not congested, there is no 'A' road access to the town from the A40 or the A361 and it remains an aspiration of the District and County Councils to deliver A-road access to the town in order to improve access to the strategic road network. A new link between the B4477 Brize Norton Road and the Witney Road has been identified as being of potential benefit to the residents of Brize Norton Village in removing unnecessary through traffic. Feasibility work into the provision of A-road access and a new link road north of Brize Norton will be explored together and the route of the potential link will be safeguarded through the local plan. The provision of the new Shilton Road Link from Elmhurst Way to Shilton Road has been identified as a key priority to serve housing growth. Further information is set out in the Carterton Sub-Area Strategy (Section 9).

8.18 Chipping Norton sits astride the crossing of the A44 and A36, with the heavily used lorry route to and from the Evesham area passing through the Town Centre. As a result, an Air Quality Management Area has been designated on Horsefair and Banbury Road. An Action Plan was approved in 2008 containing a range of measures aimed at improving air quality, primarily through reduction of HGV movements. We will continue to work with the County Council to deliver these objectives.

8.19 Elsewhere, the District is largely served by a rural road network which in some instances has limited capacity for a significant increase in traffic. Particular constraints are the limited number of river crossings and the capacity of the bridges at these crossings, many of which are single vehicle width with traffic light controls. This is especially so over the river Thames on the southern boundary of the District, where the road crossings are mainly historic bridges of single vehicle width. One of these, on the A415 at Newbridge, is a Scheduled Monument, is deteriorating and is the subject of a weight restriction order. There is also congestion at the crossing of the River Windrush at Burford.

8.20 As technologies develop, the role alternative fuels will play in both public transport and private vehicles such as hybrid, electric, and other types of low emission vehicles, is likely to increase nationally. Such changes in how transport is fuelled, is likely to have positive effects on the environment. Locally, these may be witnessed within the air quality management areas in Chipping Norton and Witney.

Bus Services

8.21 Parts of West Oxfordshire are well-served by bus services including premium services between Carterton, Witney and Oxford. However, journey times between Witney and Oxford are unreliable because of congestion within Witney, at Eynsham and approaching Oxford. Furthermore, links to the south of Carterton especially Swindon, west (Cirencester) and north (Burford) are limited. Following the subsidised bus service review in 2010 Oxfordshire County Council has continued to support bus services in West Oxfordshire. The network of buses is so well used that the review resulted in all services being continued. Providing high quality, frequent bus services, good waiting facilities and up to date service information is critical to encouraging greater passenger use by making public transport an attractive travel choice and easy to use.

8.22 Discussions have been held with Oxfordshire County Council through the preparation of the draft Local Plan and IDP and a number of potential enhancements to bus services and facilities within West Oxfordshire have been identified. These include improvements to bus stops to install real time information and improved waiting and boarding facilities, improved bus journey times (e.g. the S1 premium route between Carterton and Oxford) and increased frequencies of services (e.g. between Carterton and Swindon). The County Council have also identified the potential provision of a new park and ride site at Eynsham which would serve Witney and Oxford.

8.23 These and other potential schemes are set out in the draft IDP. We will continue to work in partnership with Oxfordshire County Council and the bus operators to secure new and improved bus services and facilities in West Oxfordshire. In particular, where necessary we will ensure that new development is supported by improvements to bus services and facilities.

Rail Services

8.24 West Oxfordshire is reasonably well-served by passenger rail services although not at the main towns. There are two mainline railways shown on the Key Diagram, the Cotswolds and Malvern line and the Oxford/Birmingham line, the former having benefited from the redoubling of 20 miles of track between Charlbury and Evesham. This included new platforms at Charlbury and Ascott under Wychwood.

8.25 There are eight passenger stations, Tackley on the Oxford/Birmingham line and the seven others on the Cotswolds and Malvern line including Long Hanborough, Combe, Finstock, Charlbury, Ascott under Wychwood, Shipton under Wychwood and Kingham. The largest stations used by most passengers and served by the greatest number of train services are Charlbury, Kingham, Long Hanborough and Tackley. Notably, none of the three main towns (Witney, Carterton and Chipping Norton) is directly served by rail although there is a bus-link to Kingham station from Chipping Norton.

8.26 Oxfordshire County Council published a draft rail strategy and delivery plan for consultation in January 2012. The strategy identifies a number of potential improvements to rail services within West Oxfordshire. The District Council will continue to work in partnership with the County Council and rail providers to further investigate the potential delivery of the various schemes and aspirations that have been identified.

Walking and Cycling

8.27 The provision of high quality, well-designed and well-maintained pedestrian and cycle links and facilities is critical to encouraging more walking and cycling. Increases in walking and cycling may reduce traffic congestion and carbon emissions. At present, West Oxfordshire is reasonably well-served in terms of walking and cycling facilities although most of these are focused on the three main towns of Witney, Carterton and Chipping Norton including in particular recent routes installed as part of the Madley Park (Witney) and Shilton Park (Carterton) developments. Outside the main towns although there are a number of national cycle network routes running through the District, most pedestrian and cycle opportunities involve the use of 'quiet roads' rather than dedicated pedestrian and cycle links.

8.28 Oxfordshire County Council as highway authority have identified a number of general and specific improvements to pedestrian and cycle infrastructure needed to accommodate future growth in the District. These include the provision of additional footways and paths and improvements to existing routes, with a particular focus on improving accessibility to key locations and encouraging greater use of public transport (e.g. walking routes to bus stops and provision of cycle parking at bus stops). They have also identified the provision of a new cycleway between Carterton and Witney, as well as a number of specific improvements in Witney and the need for improved cycle parking at key destinations and employment sites in Witney, Carterton, Chipping Norton, Eynsham and Woodstock.

8.29 We will continue to work in partnership with Oxfordshire County Council, developers and other relevant partners to deliver new and enhanced pedestrian and cycle routes and facilities within the District including through new development.

Community Transport

8.30 Community transport schemes are vital for people who do not have access to a car and are unable to use public transport, walk or cycle to their destination, usually due to disability, age-related frailty, or mobility problems. There are a number of community transport schemes in West Oxfordshire including a dial-a-ride scheme, community buses and volunteer car schemes. These receive advice and practical support from Oxfordshire Rural Community Council (ORCC). We will continue to work in partnership with ORCC, Oxfordshire County Council and the other District Councils in order to develop the community transport sector in West Oxfordshire, to increase capacity and improve the coverage of the district.

Car Clubs and Car Sharing

8.31 Car Clubs are suitable for people who want occasional access to a car without the costs of owning or renting their own vehicle. They essentially involve a pool of shared hire cars kept at a designated location that members of the car club can book in advance online or over the telephone for a set period of time (typically charged at an hourly or daily rate). Locally there is a car club scheme in operation in Oxford and the potential to set one up in Witney is being explored by a commercial operator.

8.32 Car sharing is where two or more people choose to travel together by car rather than individually, thereby reducing the number of vehicles on the road and helping those people to save money and wear and tear on their car. This is often most feasible for people that live and work in similar areas and the Oxfordshire car share scheme has been set up to help introduce individuals. A website is available at HYPERLINK "http://www.oxfordshire.liftshare.com" www.oxfordshire.liftshare.com

Parking

8.33 The amount of parking provided can also have a direct impact on people's travel choices and the District Council can influence the amount of parking available in two ways. Firstly we can determine how much parking is provided as part of new development such as housing, shops and offices. In particular we will determine the level of provision in accordance with the residential, non-residential and cycle parking standards adopted by Oxfordshire County Council as highway authority. The residential parking standards are based on the provision of an 'optimum' number of spaces rather than a 'maximum' or minimum' and are based on the provision of a mix of allocated and unallocated spaces.

8.34 With regard to off-street public car parking, there are 16 car parks in West Oxfordshire and the Council's long standing position has been not to charge for parking to maintain the attractiveness of local centres. Car parking is managed through time restrictions, the effectiveness of which is kept under review. Sufficient and convenient parking provision can make a significant contribution to the continued viability of our town centres and main employment areas. In Chipping Norton public car parking spaces in the town centre are insufficient to meet current needs and in Witney although public car parking spaces in the town centre are considered adequate to meet current needs, the Woolgate and Woodford Way car parks operate at a high level of usage. Car parking is also under pressure in popular tourist towns such as Burford and Woodstock particularly at weekends and there is a need to continue to review car and coach parking arrangements to ensure available spaces are efficiently used and provide additional car parking where capacity is being exceeded.

8.35 We will continue to monitor car parking requirements and parking management whilst promoting alternative means of travel. We will also seek improvements and capacity increases to public parking as appropriate including through new development. Further detail is provided in the Sub-Area Strategies (Section 9).

CORE POLICY 24 - 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 can be minimised, particularly where this would help to reduce traffic congestion around Oxford and the Air Quality Management Areas at Witney and Chipping Norton.

All new development will be designed to maximise opportunities for walking, cycling and the use of public transport, ensure the safe movement of vehicles and minimise the impact of parked and moving vehicles on local residents, business and the environment.

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

  • secure and safeguard appropriate improvements to the road network including specific schemes identified in LTP3 and the draft IDP in order to reduce congestion and accommodate the safe movement of people and goods whilst minimising adverse impacts on the environment.
  • increase the use of bus, rail and community transport through the provision of improved services, facilities and information including specific schemes identified in LTP3, the draft IDP and the draft Rail Strategy for Oxfordshire;
  • 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 and community transport including specific schemes identified in LTP3 and the draft IDP;
  • secure traffic management and environmental improvement schemes to help improve the attractiveness of the area and quality of life, especially in terms of air quality and safety for all residents and visitors;
  • promote improvement and extension of electronic communications (e.g. high-speed broadband) to support local businesses and services and help reduce the need to travel; and
  • provide, maintain and manage an appropriate amount of off-street public car parking, particularly to support our town and village centres.

Proposals for new developments that have significant transport implications either in themselves or with other proposals will be required to include a transport assessment. In accordance with County Council requirements, travel plans will be required for development proposals that have the potential to attract significant numbers of traffic movements. Parking in new developments will be provided in accordance with the County Council's adopted parking standards.