Oxford-Cambridge Expressway: Cllr John Walsh’s e-mail to Chris Grayling and Highways England
OXFORD CAMBRIDGE EXPRESSWAY – CORRIDOR COMPARISON
Highways England have presented three potential corridors for the Expressway between Milton Keynes and Didcot. A route to the west of Oxford and then following corridor B to Milton Keynes has significant advantages over any route to the south and east of Oxford. It involves less new road and hence will be cheaper and cause less environmental damage. It links with the A40 and A420 allowing West Oxfordshire and Swindon to enjoy direct links into the development arc. It follows the East-West Rail line and frequent interchanges would take full advantage of this.
Routes to the south and east of Oxford pass through a series of historical and environmentally sensitive areas, notably Shotover, Otmoor and Bernwood Forest close to Oxford or the River Thame to the east.
Any route which goes between Wheatley and Oxford would need to pass through or very close to the Shotover Country Park which is a Conservation Target Area, a Nature Reserve and a SSSI. To its east is the Grade 1 listed house and park of Shotover House. To its west is Brasenose Woods which is also a SSSI. There is no room for a route which avoids affecting these sensitive areas. To the south is the village of Horspath, which is densely populated and blocks any other way through. The height of Shotover Hill would mean that any road would be a major engineering undertaking and involve cuttings much wider than the road itself.
After crossing the A40 to the north any route would pass close below the conservation area of Forest Hill village itself with the Grade II* listed church of St Nicholas. If it then went to the west of Stanton St John it would go close to the grade 1 listed properties, Woodperry House and Beckley Park and then onto Otmoor, an Environmentally Sensitive Area and SSSI with a nationally important RSPB reserve. If it went to the east of Stanton St John then it would go through a series of woods, each a SSSI, which are the remnants of the medieval Bernwood Forest.
A route to the east of Wheatley would be likely to go along the River Thame, a picturesque waterway with otters. It floods regularly over a wide area and would represent significant engineering challenges.
In summary therefore I recommend Route B to the west of Oxford.
South Oxfordshire District Council
Forest Hill & Holton Ward
07860 786 470
Royal Oak House
Oxford OX3 9TY