Friday, 18 June 2021

We need relief road before new homes, says councillor

THE proposed Watlington by-pass must be built before hundreds of new homes are, says a parish councillor.

Andrew McAuley said more pressure should be applied to ensure that developers paid towards the road before completing their schemes.

“You can’t really have one without the other,” he told a meeting of Watlington Parish Council.

The relief road would run from the B4009 Pyrton crossroads in the north to Britwell Road in the south and is seen as vital to ease congestion in the town.

At least 260 new homes are expected to be built on three sites identified in the Watlington neighbourhood plan, which was approved in a referendum in June.

Councillor McAuley said he and other councillors had met with officers from both South Oxfordshire District Council and Oxfordshire County Council earlier this month.

They discussed the funding and construction of the “edge” road as well as the “multitude” of development sites across the wider area that includes Benson, Wallingford and Chinnor.

Cllr McAuley said: “We have been very firm with the district and county councils that we want the edge road first — it must come before development.

“It’s a question of how to release the funds to provide the relief road ahead of development.

“The developers need to start development to release funds to build the road but the county council can call on funds potentially from something like the Growth Fund.

“There are legal requirements to provide relief for the centre of Watlington in terms of the air quality in particular and the only solution is the edge road.

“More pressure will be applied through the neighbourhood plan advisory board and the planning committee.” Councillor Tony Williams said there were three key dates, which were not yet confirmed:

• When construction would start on the 183 homes on land at Britwell Road, the largest site in the neighbourhood plan

• When these houses would be completed

• When the bypass would be ready.

“Those three dates are going to be critical,” he said. “We need to be pressing for answers on those.”

Council vice-chairman Ian Hill said there needed to be applications for the other two sites earmarked in the neighbourhood plan — one off Pyrton Lane, which could accommodate 60 dwellings and also provide space for Watlington Primary School or for Icknield Community College to expand, and the other off Cuxham Road and Willow Close, which could take between 38 and 60 homes.

Cllr McAuley responded: “They need to be taken as a whole because the cumulative impact is far greater than the individual parts. One of the conditions is that the edge road is to be provided. The problem being that they [the developers] can provide it but you need the links in-between.

“We have to see the Government, in the form of highways, coming up with a plan for links between sites.

“That worries me more probably than the developers because I think they will provide their sections but that equates to 50 or 75 per cent of the overall length of the road.

“I think we’re in a very strong position because of the neighbourhood plan. It is predicated on the edge road and quite clearly that is its core policy.”

Councillor Terry Jackson said the council should urge Steve Harrod, its representative on the county council, district councillor Anna Badcock and Henley MP John Howell to ensure the road is built before the houses.

In April, former parish councillor Tim Horton said work on new homes in Watlington and Pyrton should not start until the completion of the bypass.

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