A PLANNED new link road on the northern outskirts of Oxford did not win Government funding because it was not listed as a priority, the leader of Oxford City Council has said.
It comes in the wake of news that a £12m funding bid by the Oxfordshire LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) for the road improvements at Pear Tree was turned down by the Government.
The scheme – to link the A40 with the A44 Woodstock Road, running north-west west of the A34 – is part of measures outlined as essential for the proposed Northern Gateway development by a planning inspector.
Council leader Bob Price said he was confident the money would be secured in the future.
Mr Price said: “There was a prioritisation, in terms of what the city needed urgently.
“The link road scheme was placed low down on the list and so it was never likely to get funding. Instead, roundabout improvement schemes [at Wolvercote and Cutteslowe roundabouts] were prioritised, as well as those at Harwell and Milton Park [near Didcot].
“The link road scheme, as well as other improvements, will be our priority in the next round of funding.
“As with anything subject to decisions by government ministers, there is no guarantee but as it will be high on our list it is very likely to secure funding.”
Money for the improvements at Pear Tree for the link road west of the A34, with bus priority lanes and an expansion of the park and ride, was sought by the Oxfordshire LEP through the Government’s Local Growth Fund.
The work was recognised as crucial by a Government planning inspector to compensate for the Northern Gateway business park being included in Oxford City Council’s core strategy – which identifies land in the city for development. At the signing of Oxford’s City Deal in February, improvements at Wolvercote and Cutteslowe roundabouts gained funding of £9m.
But the city council and Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, have faced calls in recent months to spell out how they will deliver the link road and further work. The city council is consulting on the Northern Gateway scheme until September 15, with a formal plan expected to be put forward in October.
Sietske Boeles, of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said the group had been “shocked” the council continued to press ahead without funding for the link road.
She said: “This funding, requested from Government, was earmarked to deliver much of the significant highway infrastructure required in advance of the development.
“There seems little guarantee that the traffic and environment impacts can be managed.”
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11:20am Monday 28th July 2014
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