AS council leaders call in consultants for advice on transport, a new display is reminding residents of a controversial post-war proposal to build a road across Christ Church Meadow.

Last month it emerged that the city and county councils have commissioned Phil Jones Associates to conduct a transport study, with consultants examining vehicle movements, including changes resulting from the opening of the Westgate Centre on October 24.

Now documents have gone on show at the Bodleian Library, which highlight the work of town planner Thomas Sharp, who first suggested routing a highway across the meadow to relieve High Street congestion.

His 1940s proposal was taken up by consultant Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe in 1963, who promoted the idea of a £1.7m landscaped, sunken road through the middle of the meadow.

The scheme caused great controversy before it was finally abandoned.

Mr Sharp's plans are now on show in the Proscholium of the Bodleian after they were extracted from the City Engineer's Strongroom at Oxford Town Hall, where 15,000 documents have been stored.

These cover the period from 1820 to 1974.

Oxford historian Malcolm Graham, curator of the display, said: "The City Engineer’s Strongroom is a veritable Aladdin’s cave, containing plans which feature everything from 1920s housing estates and wartime air raid shelters to street signs and even designs for a horse-drawn snow plough.

"Thomas Sharp’s plan provided an eye-catching solution, and is a reminder that there are many fascinating what-if scenarios in the history of Oxford."

City council leader Bob Price said: "Oxford is a city that combines heritage and innovation.

"Thomas Sharp’s 1946 Redevelopment Plan provides us with a fascinating insight into the history of Oxford.

"It stimulates reflection on how best we can meet the many challenges that face us in maintaining an attractive and sustainable environment.

"The council has invested substantial amounts of money in rescuing and preserving the archives, and it is important that they are accessible to the public."

When Sir Geoffrey flagged up the possibility of a road through the meadow he said the objective was 'to make a neat cut, insert the road, and join the parts together by illusion, so that they again become one'.

But the scheme created uproar and led to the formation of the Oxford Civic Society.

After it was abandoned in 1968 an alternative relief road at Eastwyke Farm was proposed, where the Oxford Spires Hotel on Abingdon Road now stands, but this did not go ahead either.

There were attempts to reignite interest in the Christ Church scheme, most notably from Thomas Sharp himself but it never went ahead.

The free exhibition runs until Sunday, November 5.