OV Transport Forum discusses a “route map” for the future of Oxfordshire.

Pembroke College, Oxford – May 2019

The partners, panellists (Phil Southall of Oxford Bus Company and Bob Price, Honorary Alderman of Oxford City Council) and delegates at the Oxfordshire Voice Transport Forum discussed the need for a visionary, sustainable and deliverable transport plan to overcome the challenges Oxfordshire faces as a county – both in the short term in 2019 and into the longer term future. Ensuring the Oxfordshire transport strategy enables and empowers development for the economy and our community as a whole is a key underlying determinant for future success.

Feedback from the business community and Oxfordshire Voice partners

In 2019 only 5% of the businesses in Oxfordshire have a clear understanding of what is planned and which bodies are responsible for delivering infrastructural change in Oxfordshire. The strategic imperative to build a coherent vision for the short term as well as longer term challenges was a core outcome from the forum. Encouraging engagement and collaboration in a more comprehensive manner is essential to map out the future but also to address key short-term issues hampering development and causing issues now. The survey was enlightening in many respects and demonstrated that greater engagement between the planning bodies, their initiatives and the business community could create powerful collaborative projects for the evolution of transport and accessibility in Oxfordshire.

The shorter term challenges

Congestion in Oxford, surrounding towns and on key road networks is a major issue limiting productivity, accessibility and causing pollution at local levels. Interesting feedback included support for quite radical policy changes to limit congestion and reduce congestion.

– 67% of businesses supported the idea of non-peak delivery times to central locations.
– 60% supported expansion of Park and Rides.
– 58% supported staggering school start and finish times.
– 69% businesses did not support the idea of congestion charging.
– Only 12% of business regarded technological innovation as a short-term solution to transport issues.

A collaborative and engaged approach

It is not just Oxford which is struggling! Oxfordshire has vibrant towns blighted by transport issues and a dispersed population struggling to access work, services and facilities.

An integrated route map for the future of transport could help identify more urgent areas and help the community to feel more involved in the outcomes. The road map must be a collaborative project engaging and empowering community involvement through stimulating positive contributions and a better understanding of the possibilities and limitations of the options and solutions.

Mass Transit – a compelling vision of sustainable transport

Public Transport and Cycling need to be prioritised. To make these options more attractive we must ensure certainty of journey time for public transport and increase safety and prioritise road space for cyclists. Public transport operators and cycling/walking groups can work more closely with the County Council as the transport authority in prioritising funding (linked to OXiS priorities).

Local Transport Plan 4 and the JSSP (Oxfordshire Plan 2050)

Oxfordshire County Council’s Local Transport Plan 4 (LTP4) can be read online here with a refresh commencing later this year.

As part of the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal agreement with the Government, the six Oxfordshire authorities – Cherwell District Council, Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council, South Oxfordshire District Council, Vale of White Horse District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council – have committed to producing a joint statutory spatial plan (JSSP), known as the Oxfordshire Plan 2050.

The Oxfordshire Plan will provide an integrated strategic planning framework and evidence base to support sustainable growth across the county to 2050, including the planned delivery of new homes and economic development, and the anticipated supporting infrastructure needed.

As part of the formation of the plan, the authorities are committed to ensuring there will be early, proportionate and meaningful engagement between plan makers and communities, local organisations, businesses, infrastructure providers and statutory bodies.

The Oxfordshire Plan 2050 will be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for independent examination by 31 March 2020 and adopted by 31 March 2021, subject to the examination process.

You can see details of current Oxfordshire Plan 2050 consultations here

Engagement

Engaging, communicating and encouraging direct feedback from the business and wider communities so that projects are both understood in the broader framework of infrastructural and housing development in the longer term.

Specific interventions

Options for a free Park and Ride system and possible integration with an electric bike scheme. Engaging and attracting support for this from the commuter community could be a priority.

Climate emergency and millennial public opinion

Investigating how additional charging points for vehicles might be created and how a Zero Emission Zone might be funded.

School traffic is a huge contributor to congestion. Can the County Council look at a ‘total transport’ project to see how provision for school transport might be consolidated and funded effectively?

Freight consolidation. The logistics of managing freight to key manufacturers needs to be studied in detail for any changes not to have a detrimental impact.

To play a role in the future success of the development of Oxfordshire become and Oxfordshire Voice partner today. Visit www.oxvoice.co.uk.

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