UPGRADES to a major city centre junction will start in September after they were approved by a senior county councillor.

Work will take place at the busy junction linking George Street, Hythe Bridge Street and Worcester Street in an effort to make it safer and reduce waiting times.

The county council had already admitted current arrangements are ‘unpopular with users, especially pedestrians and cyclists’.

The changes were approved by the county council’s cabinet member for environment, Yvonne Constance. She said the project would make the junction better for all road users.

It could cost £970,000 – but the kitty is expected to also go towards other work across the city. The cash has come from the Local Growth Fund and developers’ contributions.

Mrs Constance had been urged by Lib Dem councillor John Howson to delay the changes until a major transport study is completed.

Then, he said, more radical changes that could be introduced in Oxford can be considered together.

He said: “It does not seem sensible to spend the best part of £1m changing this junction before the outcome of the Oxford Transport Policy is finalised.

“Whether a congestion charge, workplace parking levy, bus gates or a combination of measures are introduced, it may have impact on this junction, especially in relation to bus routes and turn back points for drivers not wanting to pay a congestion change or faced with a bus gate.”

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But Mrs Constance said she felt the changes to the junction were best to do soon and then amend whenever necessary.

She told councillors at a meeting yesterday: “It’s taken a year to review and to revise [this] proposal which I’m going to declare meets improving the traffic flow through the junction, while providing for cyclists and also for pedestrians of that very narrow pavement across Hythe Bridge Street.

“Yes, there might be better schemes one day when you can revise the whole of Oxford city.

“In the meantime, I recognise that while this could well be a permanent scheme, it also makes minimal physical adjustments to the junction to increase traffic flow and it is just possible to be able to amend it if required in light of an Oxford City [Council] strategy.”

As part of the changes, drivers using north Worcester Street will only be able to drive into Hythe Bridge Street.

People driving from the southern part of Worcester Street will have to turn right into George Street.

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While people driving down George Street will only be able to drive into the southern part of Worcester Street.

All other current arrangements will be banned once the work has been completed.

A pedestrian crossing in Hythe Bridge Street by the junction will be kept.