LOCATIONS for new park-and-rides outside of Oxford’s ring road are set to be looked at as part of major transport proposals.
Oxfordshire County Council is expected to back an assessment of the existing park-and-ride network at a meeting of senior councillors on July 21.
The local authority previously unveiled proposals to close those owned and operated by Oxford City Council at Seacourt, Redbridge and Pear Tree and replace them with new sites at Eynsham, Cumnor, Lodge Hill outside Abingdon, Sandford-on-Thames, Langford Lane, and Kidlington, with the Thornhill site expanded.
The scheme could cost £80m, according to documents obtained by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) under the Freedom of Information Act.
Oxford City Council leader Bob Price – who previously said the idea amounted to transferring “assets of the city to some far-flung location that might not even be accessible for commuters” – said the city would now back the concept but had no plans to close its own sites.
He added: “The discussion that needs to take place is how viable ‘outer’ sites would be and where they might be located.”
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The park-and-ride proposals are included in the new Local Transport Plan, which was out for public consultation earlier this year.
They are backed by Oxford Civic Society, but chairman Peter Thompson warned better bus services were needed for the scheme to work.
He said: “The provision of new park-and-ride sites has to be tied to the provision of fast, direct bus services.
“If travellers have to sit in a traffic jam anyway, they may as well do so sitting in their car as in a bus.
“For new remote park-and-ride sites to work, taking the bus must be made faster.
“While the proposals shown appear to have the potential to be successful, insufficient evidence has been provided so far.
“The policy of comprehensive replacement of the existing sites is likely to introduce complex problems.
“A more satisfactory solution may be to combine the development of new sites with retention of some of the existing sites as hubs with more limited parking.”
But CPRE Oxfordshire director Helen Marshall said the new sites could encroach on protected Green Belt land, with no clear benefits.
She added: “We do not think it will do anything to get people out of their cars.
“In fact, we fear it will increase the amount of traffic to and from the radial routes to surrounding towns.”