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Battle lines drawn in Cogges Link Road inquiry
Here we provide a brief overview of both cases.
David Holgate, the barrister representing the council, said the road would help deal with traffic congestion in Witney.
He said the road would alleviate the town centre’s “considerable problems” of congestion, noise, air quality and transportation.
Campaigners against the link road have said a four-way junction on the A40 at Shores Green would be a better option. The inquiry will decide whether the council can compulsory purchase land for the road and will hear both sides of the case.
It was due to start on Tuesday at Eynsham Hall, in North Leigh, but was postponed after 150 people tried to cram into a room with capacity for 50.
On Thursday, it re-started at the larger Methodist Church, in High Street, Witney, and around 150 people attended.
Mr Holgate opened his speech by apologising, on behalf of the council. He said: “We got it wrong, we do apologise.”
The inquiry will last 10 days, with the county council putting forward its case until Wednesday afternoon. The legal team for James Mawle, who owns land needed for the road and is against the scheme, will give evidence from Thursday morning.
Campaigners against the link road will speak at the hall on Wednesday from 6pm. Closing speeches will be made on Thursday, October 6.
David Holgate, the barrister for Oxfordshire County CouncilThere is a compelling case in the public interest to justify the scheme.
The centre of Witney suffers from profound difficulties through traffic congestion.
Such congestion affects the attractiveness of one of the town’s principal attractions, the Witney and Cogges conservation area, in noise, air quality, disturbance and transportation terms, and it significantly affects the well-being of those living, working, visiting and shopping in the area.
The Cogges Link Road will alleviate those considerable problems and, as an ancillary benefit, provide a number of enhancements to the environment – in ecological, landscape and noise terms – which fully justifies the land which is required under the compulsory purchase order.
The Shores Green option is not a proper or appropriate alternative to the Cogges Link Road.
Less traffic will be removed from key town centre locations by Shores Green than by the link road, the link road is more efficient at distributing traffic away from Bridge Street and Shores Green will introduce local traffic to the current through traffic on the A40.
Additionally, the statutory objector is openly proposing a housing scheme for East Witney that will, if its objective is achieved, have significant effect on the area.
James Mawle, owner of land needed for the Cogges Link Road IT cannot be said that there is an overriding transport case for the Cogges Link Road over the Shores Green option.
Oxfordshire County Council now accepts that both Shores Green and the link road will meet the air pollution target, and the council’s own traffic figures show the link road will increase traffic levels in the town centre, while Shores Green will reduce traffic levels across the whole town.
We must therefore compare the costs and impacts of both schemes.
The link road will cost £20m, compared to the Shores Green cost of between £2.8m and £4.2m.
The link road will be built on a flood plain; the Shores Green option will not.
The link road will sever the country park, Shores Green will not.
The link road will have a highly adverse ecological and landscape impact, Shores Green will not.
And the link road places a heavy financial strain on the council’s central funding budget – at least £4.62m – while Shores Green will likely need no central funding, producing a saving for the council of £4-5m which can then be spent on Oxfordshire’s roads elsewhere.
Therefore, it is fair to say that there is no transport advantage of Cogges Link Road over Shores Green, whilst the financial, environmental and amenity impact of the link road vastly outweighs that of Shores Green.