THE process for selecting a route for the £3.5bn Oxford to Cambridge Expressway has descended into 'chaos' with councils in disagreement and calls for more information.

A preferred corridor for the road, which would cut through the Oxfordshire countryside, is set to be chosen this summer by the Highways England, which is currently analysing feedback from stakeholders.

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So far, Vale of White Horse District Council has backed a route through the south of the county, while South Oxfordshire District Council has disagreed entirely and backed a route from the north of Oxford to Milton Keynes.

Oxfordshire County Council, meanwhile has so far refused to express and opinion while Oxford City Council says it is still considering.

The public will only be consulted once a route is chosen, which has led to calls from campaigners for greater transparency.

Vote on your preferred option (route maps below)

Expressway Action Group member and Waterstock Parish Council chairman Michael Tyce said: "My first thought is it's chaos.

"The really astonishing thing is that the county council don't have a conclusion.

"They have often said how closely and how hard they are working with Highways England on this for more than a year and their response reads as though they have just been made aware of it.

"Unsurprisingly, neither South nor Vale want the expressway through their own districts, but the county is able to be dispassionate and if the people of Oxfordshire can't rely on them, who can they rely on?"

He added that the Vale's solution would achieve the group's aim of protecting the countryside and green belt.

Vale of White Horse District Council has backed Route A, which would run between Milton Keynes and the A34 south of Oxford via Aylesbury and the M40 near Thame.

However, there are still a number of routes the road could take to get around Oxford.

The Vale chose a 'sub-option' which would leave the A34 north of Didcot then join the M40 near Thame, saying the other options – including routing to the north-west of Oxford – could lead to the demolition of homes in the Botley, Cumnor and Wootton areas.

But South Oxfordshire District Council – which has the same officers as the Vale but different councillors – has disagreed entirely, saying Route A was its least preferred corridor, arguing it would impact on communities around Garsington and Baldon as well as Oxford Green Belt.

Instead it chose Route C, which would run between Milton Keynes and the A34 at Bicester via Buckinghamshire, and supported the north-west Oxford link that the Vale strongly rejected.

Oxfordshire County Council has said this week it was still unable to indicate a preferred route as Highways England was yet complete vital technical work, while Oxford City Council is still considering its response.


Route A

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The Government wants one million homes to be built in the Oxford-to-Cambridge corridor by 2050 and has proposed the expressway along with the ongoing East-West Rail project, along the same route.

Oxfordshire County Council, which formally called for a public inquiry into the need for the road and the impact of the proposed routes, said this week that it was 'not possible' to give an opinion due to lack of information.

But it said the expressway must not use the A34 between Lodge Hill and Kidlington as it would increase pressure on the 'overstretched' network.

Henley MP John Howell, who represents communities in the south of the county, said he believed the county council and business-led organisation Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership favoured the southern route, Route A.

Mr Howell, who is opposed to a southern route, said: "I have had discussions with the Secretary of State for Transport to ensure that he is aware of the local issues and have also put these concerns in writing to him.

"I am of the firm opinion that the route should utilise existing roads wherever possible rather than carve a new path through green belt land or damage other areas of environmental interest."

Mr Howell also raised questions over the transparency of the project and asked the Secretary of State to intervene and make more data on the impact of each route available to the public.

The Vale's Liberal Democrat group leader Debby Hallett said: "There should be full public consultation not only on the expressway corridors but on the wider ramifications of the scheme before the corridor decision is taken.

"The relationship of each corridor to green belt areas, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, heritage assets,hamlets and villages should be clearly delineated on large scale maps available to the public."

She added: "I’m against the roadway, but think a rail line might be a good idea. What we don’t need are more cars, and if you build an expressway you will definitely get more cars."