Oxford-Cambridge Expressway: Oxford County Council response (Ian Hudspeth)

Thank you for your enquiry regarding the proposed Oxford to Cambridge Expressway which is promoted by Highways England; any correspondence on this should be sent to OxfordtoCambridgeExpressway@highwaysengland.co.uk

The response by Oxfordshire County council sent  12th April 2018 was:

Oxford to Cambridge Expressway – Oxfordshire Response on Corridor Preferences

We welcome the further development work and engagement taking place on the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway project and the opportunity to give views to Highways England. 

At this stage, Oxfordshire is not able to indicate a corridor preference, given that the technical and other supporting work required to inform the decision on a preferred corridor is not yet complete.  Nor is it possible therefore, for these reasons, to provide a formal Council position.

We support the strategic objectives and purpose of the Expressway project, recognising the opportunity it brings to support and enable growth and development, enhance connectivity and take forward innovation and smart technology on the Oxford to Cambridge corridor.  However, following detailed discussion on the project between officers and Members, we believe there are some important principles which, in addition to the published assessment criteria, should be integral to the corridor selection and decision-making process.   In Oxfordshire, these include:

  1. Ensuring that the Expressway corridor does not increase pressure on the existing, already overstretched strategic highway network.  Specifically, the Expressway must not use the section of the A34 through central Oxfordshire (broadly defined as at least the section between the Lodge Hill junction, north of Abingdon and the Bicester Road junction, east of Kidlington).  This section is where the A34 currently operates as both a regional/national strategic route and a local distributor route (forming part of the Oxford Ring Road) and it is essential that the new Expressway infrastructure provides a completely separate strategic route to avoid this conflict of use;
  2. Ensuring that the Expressway corridor (or subsequently identified route) minimises the impact on the existing highway network, i.e. it should not use existing local road networks or draw significant strategic traffic directly into local road networks / highway infrastructure which would not be able to cope – the ring road around Bicester for example;
  3. Ensuring that the Expressway is developed separately alongside locally planned highway enhancements such as Culham river crossing.

It is clear that, even taking these principles into account, there remain a number of corridor options and variants in Oxfordshire, including options west and east of Oxford City, and it is important that these are all fully and transparently considered through the assessment and decision-making process.  This includes taking into account how they would fit in with corridor preferences elsewhere on the Expressway corridor, for example in Buckinghamshire.

My personal view on the Expressway is:

The road that causes the most traffic issues for Oxfordshire is the A34 as it’s a mixture of a local and national traffic. If the 2 parts could be separated to allow the ring road to function as a local road then there would be an improvement for Oxfordshire’s residents. The A34 impacts on all 5 Districts and all 6 constituencies so there are few residents not affected. On page 17 of the strategic stage 3 study 

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/571353/oxford-to-cambridge-expressway-strategic-study-stage-3-report.pdf )  paragraphs 3.4.5 & 3.4.6, it is clear that this proposal will provide a local solution.

Whatever corridor and, ultimately, route chosen there will be local impact with local opposition however we have to consider the bigger picture to improve the A34. For that reason I am not suggesting a preferred corridor as I want to wait to see the evidence that Highways England will provide.

Regards

Cllr Ian Hudspeth

County Councillor for the Woodstock Division

Leader Oxfordshire County Council

01865 815 283

07956 270 318