Promise to keep traders in the loop over square work

David Nimmo Smith

David Nimmo Smith

First published in Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Council Reporter, also covering Oxford city centre. Call me on 01865 425429

BUSINESSES and residents have been promised more information in the future over the redevelopment of Oxford’s Frideswide Square.

Oxfordshire County Council’s deputy director for environment and economy Mark Kemp made the promise after some traders and residents complained they had been kept in the dark about forthcoming works.

He said communication was “limited” last year and plans on how to consult are being “urgently” put together.

Work will start in September on a radical £5.5m re-design of the square, by Oxford train station, in a bid to improve traffic flows.

The scheme – to finish by December 2015 – will remove traffic lights in favour of roundabouts.

Traffic will be diverted along Hollybush Row, Osney Lane and Becket Street to avoid the square.

Amanda Suliman-Bell, who runs the Rainbow and Spoon boutique in Frideswide Square, said she sought details about timing of the works.

She said: “I had to instigate a meeting with the county council and I made that happen and they hadn’t got in touch with me.

“We have a seasonal business where we are required to know what we are going to do from one season to the next and I am just about to start ordering for my autumn season but I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

A large roundabout will go outside the station, with two mini-roundabouts at the other end of the square in front of the Royal Oxford Hotel.

Open spaces will be created on three sides of the square, named after Oxford’s patron saint.

The junction of Worcester Street, Hythe Bridge Street and George Street will become a four-way junction with lights and four pedestrian crossings.A mini-roundabout will be created where Hollybush Row meets Osney Lane and Oxpens Road.

Becket Street will be opened to two-way traffic with parking bays in the street moved to Osney Lane and St Thomas Street.

The changes will be introduced in the winter and will be permanent when work is complete.

Mr Kemp said: “No design works were undertaken on the project between January and December 2013 hence there were limited communications with stakeholders during that period.

“Communication channels were reopened in April 2014 with the informal consultation on the enabling works.

“A communications plan for the project is being prepared as a matter of urgency.

“This will be aimed at regular communication with stakeholders, including residents and businesses, informing of work schedules, progress, key messages etc.”

Cabinet member for transport David Nimmo Smith will be asked to approve the diversions on Thursday.

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