A DEVELOPMENT of 160 homes in Abingdon has suffered a major setback after permission for two neighbouring pedestrian crossings was refused.

The crossings for Ock Street and Marcham Road were devised to help the town cope with an influx of cars from the new estate to be built on land off Drayton Road.

The building of the crossings was outlined by a Government inspector as a condition for it to go ahead and Oxfordshire County Council officers had recommended they be approved.

But yesterday at County Hall in Oxford, David Nimmo-Smith, the cabinet member for transport, rejected the proposals.

He said: “I am left with a difficult decision.

“But I am minded to turn down these proposals and let it run its course.”

The move would have seen the existing pelican crossing on the Marcham Road side of the Spring Road/Drayton Road/Ock Street/Marcham Road double roundabout moved 60 metres further away.

The planning permission has been seen as a key battleground by opponents of the estate. At the meeting, attended by about 30 people, residents claimed the changes would result in a system that was less safe for children and would harm air quality.

Vale of the White Horse District Council also produced two reports with similar findings.

District councillor Richard Webber said: “Schoolchildren are the key issue. If these proposals are accepted, a safe arrangement will be replaced by a less-safe arrangement. On behalf on my council, I urge you to reconsider.”

After the meeting county councillor Neil Fawcett, who represents the Abingdon South ward, said he was delighted by the decision.

He said: “This is finally a sign that arguments made by local residents are being listened to.

“We hope this will stop the development, but I am sure the developers are already seeking legal advice to launch an appeal.

“It is good the decision was made on the grounds of safety, but we are not naive to think this is the end.

The developer of the new houses, Hallam Land Management, could now appeal against the decision.