West Oxfordshire growth plan ignores A40 gridlock

Photo: © Jane Tomlinson

8th January 2013

Photo: © Jane Tomlinson

West Oxfordshire District Council (WODC) published its Draft Local Plan (DLP) in November and we have responded to their proposals.

The Draft Local Plan sets out West Oxfordshire’s plans for housing and economic growth in the district and all the services needed to support this.

WODC propose 5,500 new homes by 2029; the majority to be built in Witney and Carterton, plus 60 acres of land for businesses. Locating new development in the existing larger centres, where services are already available, is the most sustainable option and we have always supported this approach.

A40 gridlock

The fly in the ointment to the whole plan is transport infrastructure. With an increase in population, there will be extra pressure on the already choked A40. Since WODC is not the Highways authority, we recognise their powers are limited here. Nonetheless, the scale of development planned for Witney and Carterton depends most on a road which is already inadequate. So we are disappointed to see nothing in the DLP about a possible rail link between Carterton and Oxford, which at a stroke would alleviate the A40 nightmare. This should be a high priority. A short term solution might be to better co-ordinate bus and rail services, so that frequent buses from Witney, Carterton and Chipping Norton are linked to the current railway stations serving Oxford and London.

We are concerned that many of the villages in West Oxfordshire (and elsewhere too) are losing their services. Whether these villages get new housing built in them or not, it may be that they will inexorably become dormitories for the larger centres. We would like to see more discussion about how services and businesses can be maintained and encouraged in the villages to help them remain ‘vibrant communties’.

You can read our whole response to WODC’s Draft Local Plan here. (6-page pdf)

What happens next

WODC will consider all the responses to the DLP in the next couple of months and publish their final version of the plan in the summer. This will then be sent to the Government and considered by an independent inspector through a public examination. WODC hope to adopt the new plan early 2014.