CONTROVERSIAL plans to improve roads in Headington have been delayed again as Oxfordshire County Council looks to ensure they can be 'delivered on budget'.

The long-planned third phase of the £12.5m transport improvement was due to start on Monday but this has now been postponed.

Oxford Mail: Second phase of Access to Headington has begun â picture of roadworks along The Slade...Picture by Richard Cave photography 03.05.17.

This is the second time this part of the programme, which was set to stretch the length of Headley Way as well as including works outside the John Radcliffe Hospital and Marsh Lane junction, has been delayed.

Originally due to start in the summer, it was postponed due to the high levels of disruption which would be caused as other major work was taking place elsewhere in the city.

But it will now be halted again because the council wants be more certain on the overall cost.

The council said it could downscale some of the work planned or enhance it, depending on whether money could be found. 

It is hoped the work will continue and said a new date for the third phase, which was initially anticipated at costing about £6m, should be set within weeks.

Councillor Yvonne Constance, the council’s cabinet member for environment and economy, said: “We are still committed to delivering the scheme and some facilitating work will continue at weekends so that we are ready.

“This is a challenging and much needed piece of work and it makes sense to look again at the costs and designs to ensure that it can be delivered on budget. We had hoped to resolve this without needing to pause the scheme but require more time to reach a conclusion.”

The council said other changes which it anticipated would include looking at a ‘less disruptive’ alternative to work due to take place on Headley Way, between Marsh Lane and Bowness Avenue. 

There had been fears from residents the work cause huge levels of disruption, with many uncertain as to how much benefit there would be.

When the Oxford Mail attended exhibitions showing plans for the roadworks last month, residents said they feared 'gridlock' on busy routes through a key part of the city. 

Health chiefs at the John Radcliffe Hospital had previously warned visitors to allow several hours extra when planning their journeys.

Headington and Quarry county councillor Roz Smith said: “It’s a short reprieve for resident and commuters and it’s probably good news for the people getting to the JR for the next few weeks – but it’s still on the horizon and it’s still going to be grim getting into the John Radcliffe site.” 

The work is set to be carried out by Skanska, which carries out highways work for the council. 

However, there are some not happy at the delay, criticising the changes.
City councillor Mary Clarkson, who represents Marston, took to Twitter to voice her frustration about the delay. She accused the county council of ‘messing about’ the JR and schools. 

Mrs Clarkson wrote: “Access to Headington work on Headley Way & Cherwell Drive our back for 2nd time until mid Feb now. 
"Really not acceptable to mess about key public services such as hospitals & schools as well as local residents. Bad planning (Oxfordshire County Council).”

Work on The Slade will finish in February – completing a cycle path which Oxford Mail reader Chris Waites said was dangerous after he tumbled from his bike on it last month. 

The council added its new junction on Gipsy Lane completed last year as part of Access to Headington was working well. 

It also said it was happy with work on Old Road, Churchill Drive and Roosevelt Drive, which it said has improved access to the Churchill Hospital.