Saturday, 13 August 2022

County council questions need for £20m town bypass

A BYPASS to help alleviate traffic and pollution in the centre of Watlington has not been shown to be necessary, it has been claimed.

The “edge road” is seen as essential to the town’s neighbourhood plan, which has allocated three sites for up to 260 homes.

The parish council wants the developers to provide a new road running through the sites from the B4009 Pyrton crossroads in the north to Britwell Road in the south.

But Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, has questioned whether the road is of “sufficient importance” to gain enough funding to ensure its construction.

It has made the same observation about a similar bypass plan for Benson, which is facing the prospect of almost 1,000 new homes.

The county council says: “There are many villages in the county which would benefit from a bypass but the criteria for seeking funding from government are strict.

“The proposals at Benson and Watlington are for relatively limited amounts of neighbourhood plan housing which is not anticipated to fully fund a road of the scale required. The council expects that the total cost of such a road could be in the region of £20million.

“The council does not have any funding that it is able to put towards this scheme and is not currently seeking funding for it.”

The council also says it is unclear whether funding would be forthcoming even if a government-backed proposal for about 3,000 homes at Chalgrove Airfield went ahead.

It said: “It is understood that the neighbourhood plan group is hoping that the road could be funded by a combination of funding/direct provision from developers and contributions from the Chalgrove Airfield developer on the basis that this road would provide direct mitigation of effects from that development.

“It is not clear how the road can be delivered if depending on different landowners on differing timescales.

“At this point it is also not clear whether the county council can require contributions from the Chalgrove Airfield developer towards this road as the evidence of effects and need for such mitigation currently do not exist.”

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