Almost exactly 19 years after congestion charging was introduced in London, the zero emission zone in Oxford could prove just as radical.

The initial pilot is so small its impact is likely to be limited but the planned expansion, now on course for 2023, is a much bigger step.

As Oxfordshire County Council members explained last year, almost everywhere inside the ring road will then be subject to the regulations, which for a great many people will mean £10 a day to go into Oxford.

And if the initial plans are carried out, the £10 charge will double after four years.

Such a change in the way of life for so many people will bring an ideological idea into reality. If anywhere was going to bring in such a scheme, it would have to be Oxford, of course, which seeks to lead much of the world in its environmental agenda.

It does mean that those who support the concept will have to live it. This is push coming to shove. But it’s hard to imagine everyone in Blackbird Leys having the same view of the ZEZ as the university’s student population.

There could be an unintended consequence in that the least able to afford it will suffer the most. Anyone driving into Oxford will need to either buy an expensive new car, switch to public transport, pay up or get a new job.

Perhaps it will mean more home working and less commuting. But it may also mean fewer customers for shops, cafes and restaurants. Perhaps house prices will be affected which could be a good or a bad thing. Will sufficient public transport alternatives exist? Will it mean more e-scooters on pavements and roads? Or more parking problems in streets on the edge of the ZEZ?

Oxford residents will doubtless have something to say and the voices of businesses will also seek to be heard.

Today’s launch of the pilot scheme is a big step but the expansion is going to be a huge one.


In another leap into the unknown, this week we launch an occasional new column in which we invite someone from the property world to write anonymously.

We’ve noticed over the years there is a multitude of issues people would like to give a view about but, due to employer or client relationships, they cannot. It means some issues just don’t get sufficient attention, so we’ve delved into the unknown to offer a platform for anyone in a property-related discipline to talk more freely.

We will need to know your name but it won’t be published or revealed. Drop a line with any initial thoughts to Alan Bunce at

You can also call 078 9099 7824.

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