CYCLISTS have called for a new underpass to be built in Oxford as an ‘essential’ solution to safety fears about the Swan School.

Groups have fought to protect what they describe as ‘Oxfordshire’s premier cycle route’, after developers proposed creating a new school access road which cuts across the busy lane.

The 1,260-pupil secondary school is set to open in September 2019 to provide much-needed school places, replacing the current Harlow Centre in Marston.

But the planning application has provoked a barrage of complaints about access to the site in Marston Ferry Road, with parents accusing developers of ‘having a laugh’ with their proposal of marshalling the traffic.

Oxford cycling group Cyclox has called for an underpass to be built to divert cyclists and pedestrians away from traffic on the busy route.

Its comment on the plan as part of Oxford City Council’s consultation states: “The integrity of the cycle route must be preserved and therefore it is essential that an underpass must be built, which has spur routes into the Swan School physically separated from the motor vehicle access.

“If an underpass is not possible then we think that you need to consider Raymund Road as the main vehicle entrance, to prevent the inevitable conflict of vehicles crossing the cycle path.”

The Cherwell School’s travel action group has objected to the planning application and called for a subway to avoid safety issues.

Its comment reads: “Applicants are having a laugh at the expense of planning committee members.

“Nowhere in the world are cyclists stopped on a cycle path to allow teachers to park their cars.

"The existing local physical cycling infrastructure will be seriously undermined without a subway.

"This well-established traffic-free cycle route is Oxfordshire's premier cycle route.”

The Swan School will be run by the River Learning Trust, which also oversees several other schools including The Cherwell.

Its traffic group’s concerns were echoed by Oxfordshire Cycling Network, which added in its comment: “We should be promoting active travel, not putting marshals in to block it.”

Oxford City Council is due to decide on the plan in August or September.

The River Learning Trust’s chief executive Paul James did not rule out the underpass suggestion.

He said: “We have a duty to those whose secondary educations needs are not currently being met to consider any measures that will allow The Swan School to be built.

"We are happy to discuss this issue with cycle campaigners and have been involved in some discussion already.

“We are seeking to do all that we reasonably can to address their concerns, being guided by resources and by the advice of the county council's traffic experts."

The response of Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, has not yet been published on the planning application and public comments have now closed.

Oxford Preservation Trust raised concerns in its response about the design of the school, describing it as ‘rather blocky’ and encouraging developers to think up a ‘more interesting scheme’.

Thames Water commented stating it is in talks with developers to agree a suitable water strategy, noting the current system could not cope.

Last Monday the River Learning Trust held the first of eight information events at Oxford primary schools for pupils and parents, the next of which is tonight at St Barnabas CE Primary School in Jericho.

Mr James added: “Enthusiasm for The Swan School was evident at the meeting [last week].

“We are heartened by the strong support that the school proposal has received from local parents.”

A new website for the school has also been launched,

To view the application and comments click here.