UK Property Forums consultant Hugh Blaza sees a hopeful route ahead now that congestion in Oxford is being tackled head-on.
Well, it’s nice to be back and a happy New Year and best wishes for 2022 to you all. The odd thing about working from home (as I suspect many of us are, albeit not out of choice) is that the dividing line between holidays and the resumption of the working week is harder to identify.
But the wheels are starting to turn again and a welcome piece of news has emerged in our first week back.
In the Oxford development jigsaw, it is crucial that infrastructure is treated as a fundamental element, the one which will facilitate and enable the success of the new developments.
Many of us will have experienced the traditional traffic issues besetting Oxford city centre when a relative level of normality returned last Autumn, before omicron sent us back into quasi lockdowns.
We really would prefer to see some permanent solutions to the age-old problems. So it’s great that Oxfordshire County Council has launched a public consultation into its Local Transport and Connectivity Plan. The plan’s stated aim is to reduce car journeys in the county by 33 per cent by 2040. If achieved, that should, the council says, deliver a zero-carbon transport network.
The council has identified improvements in the county’s cycling network will be needed as part of the programme, the aim being to increase the number of journeys by bike from the current level of 600,000 to one million.
But the cost of implementing safety measures for cyclists to reassure them that their legitimate fears of being knocked off their bikes will likely be significant.
Then there will be times when issues such as distance, infirmity or simply the weather will mean a bike journey is impracticable. So, the bus is the next obvious answer. Timing is everything, of course and so news that some bus services across the county have been cut owing to low numbers of passengers is hardly welcome in this context. Perhaps they will be reinstated once the pandemic is more under control.
Moving around within the city deserves considerable attention if the jams and pollution are to be consigned to history. The introduction of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods has been controversial, as has the proposal to widen some of the city’s transport arteries; traders say the loss of parking spaces will have a negative impact on their trade. We don’t surely want the business community to suffer in the cause.
But the takeaway here is that nettles are being grasped. As they must; the clean, sustainable world, which the artists’ impressions of the new developments in the city and around the county imply, need to be underpinned by clean, sustainable means of moving about.
The public consultation is live now and ends on March 16. Access it here and make your views known: https://letstalk.oxfordshire.gov.uk/ltcp
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