Saturday, 19 June 2021

Airfield housing could help pay for town bypass

A NEW bypass could be built at Watlington under government plans for 3,500 new homes on Chalgrove Airfield.

The idea of an “edge street” has been put forward by the Homes and Communities Agency in a consultation document about possible solutions to traffic congestion in the town.

Ownership of the airfield has been transferred from the Ministry of Defence to the agency, whose remit is to make more homes and business premises available.

The bypass would run from the B4009 Britwell Road to the west of the town, through Cuxham Road and alongside the Marlbrook estate, to the north of the town across Pyrton Lane, and join the B4009 Watlington Road, at the junction of Station Road and Pyrton Lane.

The agency says the road could take additional traffic and heavy goods vehicles, keeping it away from the town cente, but would require developers to help fund it.

It says the route from Watlington to Lewkor and on to the M40 is a main transport corridor which experiences heavy traffic flows that are likely to increase.

The issue was raised at an event hosted by the agency last month, where representatives of local parishes discussed infrastructure requirements and voiced their concerns about the effect of additional housing.

Ian Hill, chairman of Watlington Parish Council, said the town was a gateway for traffic heading to and from the M40 via junction six.

He said this had resulted in poor air quality in the town centre as the through-road included on-street parking, which slowed traffic, and two pinch-points near the town hall where only one vehicle could go through at a time.

Councillor Hill added that it was impossible to improve this route.

Watlington’s neighbourhood plan, which is currently being prepared, is set to allocate preferred locations for 200 homes.

It will also explore the possibility of an alternative route, in effect a bypass, to the west of the town in order reduce through-traffic.

The fund this, a number of development sites would be needed.

Councillor Hill welcomed the prospect of some funding from the agency but added that the impact on neighbouring villages of Shirburn, Britwell Salome, Pyrton and Cuxham also had to be taken into consideration.

Providence Land has applied for outline planning permission for 100 homes on 14 hectares of agricultural land off Pyrton Lane in Pyrton parish.

The plans include provision of an “alternative route” connecting Cuxham Road and Pyrton Lane with a new road outside the Marlbrook estate.

The meeting also heard from Benson Parish Council vice-chairman Jon Fowler and former councillor Dave Rushton, who raised the idea of a village by-pass.

Planning permission has already been granted for hundreds of new homes in Benson and the final total could be as high as 1,000.

Councillor Fowler and Mr Rushton said the last major road scheme took place in 1942 and the basic road structure hadn’t changed much since the coaching days of the 18th century.

A meeting earlier this year to discuss plans for 400 homes on farmland north of Littleworth Road, which have since been approved, heard that a Benson bypass had been discussed since the Sixties and was included in plans in 1973.

Chalgrove Airfield is one of seven sites being considered by South Oxfordshire District Council for a single strategic housing development between now and 2032.

The council has to make provision for this number of homes, over and above its own need, in order to help accommodate the overspill from Oxford.

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