Hopes for a new link road between Banbury and Junction 11 of the M40 have been dashed by officers at Oxfordshire County Council, prompting fears among some councillors the town is heading towards traffic chaos.
Last month the council finished consultation on its Local Transport Plan (LTP). The scheme sets out the council’s strategy for meeting rising demand on transport infrastructure, accommodating further growth in the local economy and mitigating the impact of additional housing. A draft of the document mentions an additional link road as a possible long term solution to additional traffic at Junction 11.
But at a locality meeting last week officers told assembled councillors that computer modelling suggested a relief road was not financially feasible.
The news will disappoint campaigners who, alongside Banbury Town Council and Banbury Civic Society, have long advocated the need for a link road to ease congestion.
According to Cherwell Local Plan Banbury is expected to receive about 7,000 additional homes by 2031 and LTP sets out plans to reduce congestion by implementing traffic calming on South Bar Street and Horsefair corridor to reduce traffic speed as well as multiple improvements to Hennef Way, a key link to the M40.
Cllr Mike Beal said LTP does not go far enough and in its present form the current area strategy for Banbury is “not fit for purpose” if a potential relief road is not the table.
“All the plan really amounts to at this point is tinkering with the small things that are relatively cheap,” he said.
“What Banbury needs is a major investment in its future, Banbury is the second largest town in Oxfordshire but it often feels as if it is playing second fiddle to Bicester and Oxfordshire.
“Officers are doing the best they can,” added Cllr Mark Cherry. “But the thing is there should be funding for a relief road that everyone wanted. This is something we have all been pushing for since we were elected.
“I feel this would have been vital for my division of Banbury Calthorpe / Bankside, councillor Mike Beal’s division of Grimsbury and Castle and Banbury in general to relieve future gridlock.
“My concern is with the local government axe looming with regard to continued austerity under David Cameron’s government, no link road means carmageddon.”
Locality group chairman John Christie said councillors are united in support for a link road and will continue to push to keep it on the agenda.
The final decision will be made by OCC cabinet members on July 21.