TWO planned pedestrian crossings in Abingdon designed to ease traffic congestion would do exactly the opposite, a county councillor has claimed.

The new crossings proposed for Ock Street and Marcham Road have been devised to help the town’s road network cope with extra vehicles from a 160-home estate to be built on land off Drayton Road.

But county councillor Neil Fawcett is objecting to the plans because he believes they would increase traffic congestion, particularly in Ock Street.

Highway chiefs have launched a public consultation into the crossings, which have been designed so that pedestrians using them would break up the flow of traffic in and out of Abingdon at rush hour, allowing queueing cars in Drayton Road to enter the flow more easily.

But Mr Fawcett, who represents the Abingdon South division, said: “The theory behind the positioning of the two crossings is that they will allow traffic to flow more freely from Drayton Road, easing congestion.

“But I believe the crossings will almost certainly hold up traffic on Ock Street heading towards the Marcham interchange and I am not convinced it will help reduce traffic queues in Drayton Road.”

The scheme for the homes on land behind Virginia Way was rejected by Vale of White Horse District Council a year ago but developer Hallam won an appeal in July, with Government planning inspector John Watson setting a condition that before any houses were built, work must begin on the crossings to help reduce congestion.

Mr Fawcett said: “The Hallam scheme could not go ahead without the county council giving permission for the crossings to be built, but the council has to consider the crossings on their own merits.

“At certain times of the day traffic already backs up the length of Ock Street and the crossings could add to congestion in the town centre.”

As part of the crossings plan, the existing pelican crossing on the Marcham Road side of the Spring Road/Drayton Road/Ock Street/Marcham Road double roundabout would be moved 60 metres further along Marcham Road.

Drayton resident Anthea Eno described the plan for the crossings as “absurd”.

She said the crossing in Ock Street was not intended to benefit pedestrians, and added: “If the intended beneficiaries are drivers on the Drayton Road travelling towards the roundabout, this proposal makes the astounding error of not taking into account drivers wishing to turn right at the roundabout.

“Clearly a new pelican crossing 25 metres down Ock Street from the roundabout would cause virtual standstill on the roundabout whenever a vehicle or two wishes to turn right and is held up at the pelican crossing.

“A standstill on the roundabout would create even greater gridlock than exists already at peak times on Drayton Road, Marcham Road and Ock Street.”

According to the planning inspector, Hallam cannot begin construction on the homes until Oxfordshire County Council confirms that pedestrian crossings will be created and, before the crossings can be approved, the county must complete the public consultation.

The deadline for residents to respond to the consultation is Friday, February 7.

County council spokesman Martin Crabtree said: “The responses to the consultation are due to be considered at the county council’s cabinet member for environment decisions meeting on March 27.

“If the proposals were to be approved at this meeting, at present we cannot give any indication of when these specific works would start, but there would be a three-month lead-in period before construction would begin.”