Monday, 21 June 2021

Anti-bypass campaign leaflet 'inaccurate and one-sided'

A CAMPAIGN group which criticised plans for a bypass around Watlington has been accused of misleading residents.

A leaflet produced on behalf of Residents Against Watlington Ring Road was distributed to homes in the town two weeks ago.

It claimed that the proposed “edge street”, or bypass, running from the B4009 Pyrton crossroads in the north to Britwell Road in the south would generate more traffic and air pollution and destroy the green buffer between the town and Pyrton.

But at Watlington’s annual parish meeting last week, the claims were dubbed “one-sided, unbalanced and, in places, inaccurate” in a statement by the parish council.

It said: “We know that there are two sides to the picture — a re-routed B4009 will have both benefits and
disbenefits.

“We ask that you think carefully before you decide which to support and that you tell us your views in your response to the Watlington neighbourhood development plan consultation. The leaflet presents a very one-sided view — we ask that you take a much more rounded view of the issue.

“An alternative route around Watlington will reduce the curse of congestion in the centre of the town, making it a far more pleasant environment for residents and shoppers.

“Against this you have to balance the loss of valuable green space between Pyrton and Watlington and harm to the views of the area from Watlington Hill.”

The council said traffic would increase on the B4009 and B480 irrespective of the new route due to development. The Watlington neighourhood plan earmarks three sites for up to 260 homes to the north and west of the town.

In return, developers would be expected to contribute towards the cost of the bypass. The council said: “The parish council takes the view that we should do what we can to protect the town and our neighbours from this increased traffic.”

The leaflet also claimed that 400 new homes would be needed in order to help fund the bypass.

But the council said it was “simplistic” to think that the number of houses to be built would directly relate to the cost of the road.

It said there was no requirement in South Oxfordshire District Council’s draft Local Plan for infrastucture such as the road to be funded entirely by levies on developers.

The leaflet was created and sent on behalf of the campaign group by Bournemouth-based planning consultants Terence O’Rourke, who are also helping prepare the Pyrton neighbourhood plan, which allocates three sites for 18 new homes.

It also claimed the road would:

l Impact on listed buildings, conservation areas and the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

l Increase the risk of flooding if it went through areas of high risk.

l Put a strain on medical services.

l Result in “potentially dangerous” intersections with the B4009 and traffic choke points through nearby Shirburn.

Last week, Gill Bindoff, facilitator of the Watlington neighbourhood plan forum co-ordination group, criticised the leaflet for not making it clear who was responsible for it.

She said: “Some of it is a bit inaccurate and some of it doesn’t have any factual foundation.

“I think they are saying the majority of people in Watlington would oppose the idea of a re-routed B4009. That isn’t the message we have got from all the drop-in sessions we have been holding. It’s one thing to promote your own view, which is fine, but to make claims which do not have any foundation in fact is not acceptable.”

John Curtis, chairman of Pyrton Parish Council, said that neither he nor his council had any knowledge of the leaflet.

Both Watlington and Pyrton’s neighbourhood plans are currently out to consultation.

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