‘Get on yer bike!’ and local plan will be fine

The local plan is currently being examined at Bodicote House
The local plan is currently being examined at Bodicote House

Banbury Civic Society has slammed Oxfordshire County Council for saying the town’s road network will ‘be fine’ with the housing numbers in the Local Plan – if people significantly change the way they travel.

Cherwell District Council’s modified Local Plan is currently being examined by a Government inspector but Banbury Civic Society remains critical over what members deem a lack of appropriate road infrastructure to support the planned 7,000 homes for Banbury up to 2031.

Its chairman Rob Kinchin-Smith attended the examination at Bodicote House last Wednesday when the transport issue was being discussed. He said Oxfordshire County Council assured the inspector that Banbury’s road infrastructure will be fine providing there is a ‘substantial modal shift’.

Mr Kinchin-Smith added: “They were saying it will be fine. Subject to a ‘significant modal shift’ everything will be fine. So if everybody in Banbury rode buses or bikes there would not be a traffic problem. But there are already great pressures on the bus network in Banbury so what they’re effectively saying is ‘on yer bike!’

“We resent the fact that we’re going to generate all this community infrastructure levy and not see any of that money. Banbury could just become where they dump the additional houses to make up the numbers and we’ll get nothing for it.

“Oxford is getting a monorail, Bicester a new motorway junction… but in Banbury they’re just telling us ‘get on yer bike!’”

He added the group is disappointed that the entire local plan discussion has mainly been about housing numbers and not so much about getting the infrastructure to match.

Mr Kinchin-Smith said the group hopes that if the inspector deems the plan sound, he will add modifications for developers to have to deliver these roads.

The civic society is keen to get either a road linking Ermont Way to Bankside, connecting to the Oxford Road at the Bodicote Flyover, also including Higham Way and Central M40, or a road connecting Tramway to Higham Way with a small bridge over the railway developments.

Mr Kinchin-Smith said: “It’s not too late. The inquiry is running until December 23 but the inspector will take time after that to consider the findings so if people write and make their views heard we could make a difference.”

Those wanting to send comments can do so to programme officer Ian Kemp, 49 All Saints Place, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, or e-mail idkemp@icloud.com

A spokesman for Oxfordshire County Council said: “The county council is working alongside CDC to support the development of the district’s local plan including future transport infrastructure requirements. The two councils are continuing to investigate potential options for capacity improvements to the south east of the town to alleviate the impact of planned and agreed development.

“We are also working closely with bus operators in Banbury to improve the bus network and increase use of sustainable transport. Growth forecast for the coming years both in Banbury and across the wider county means that a key priority will be to improve levels of bus usage, cycling and walking wherever possible.”