EVERY area outside of Oxford's city centre could potentially become a so-called Low Traffic Neighbourhood, where through roads are cut off to stop rat running.

Plans for LTNs, as they are also known, have been touted for three areas of Cowley, and for Jericho.

LTNs have divided communities not only in Oxford, but across the UK, with many saying they cut down air pollution and risk on residential roads, while others think they are bad for local business.

A plan which seeks to fundamentally change the way people get around in Oxford, changing the roads to boost cycling and walking, also includes proposals for as many as 33 LTNs around Oxford.

The expert behind the plan made assurances there were 'no plans to introduce LTNs in all those areas'.

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A Low Traffic Neighbourhood uses bollards or street furniture like plant boxes to turn through roads into cul-de-sacs, preventing rat running, but allowing residents to still drive in and out of their areas.

They sometimes include pedestrianised areas and new green spaces.

Earlier this year Oxfordshire County Council gave its seal of approval to a Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) for Oxford.

The LCWIP is an official blueprint for ways to change the roads in the city over the next 10 years.

Its overall goal is to encourage people to ditch their cars and increase the number of daily cycling trips in the city from 300,000 a day, to 450,000 a day, as well as cater for more pedestrians.

But parts of these plans to encourage a shift in the way people get to and from their homes and jobs includes more Low Traffic Neighbourhoods.

Among them are Church Cowley, Temple Cowley and Florence Park, where three LTNs are due to be rolled out in the near future with Government funding, as well as a similar scheme for Jericho and Walton Manor which is currently on the cards.

But alongside them are a host of other areas, outlined in a map, totalling 33 potential LTNs in every part of Oxford except for main arterial roads and the city centre.

Oxford Mail:

A map showing all the areas in Oxford which could potentially become Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. Picture: Oxfordshire County Council

Oxfordshire County Council's transport officer Patrick Lingwood, who drew up the plans, said these areas will likely not all become LTNs, but that the map just gave an outline of which parts of the city could be transformed to stop commuters clogging up residential streets if local residents wanted it.

Mr Lingwood said: "Low Traffic Neighbourhoods are a fundamental element of creating more liveable neighbourhoods and thereby promoting cycling and walking because they remove rat runs and lead to less traffic and slower traffic speeds in residential areas, providing opportunities for people to cycle in safety and comfort."

He added: "The map on the Oxford LCWIP... is indicative to show the potential LTN areas. At this point there are no plans to introduce LTNs in all those areas. The Council will respond to local support and where funding is available."

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An ongoing study led by the University of Westminster has found that LTNs do encourage people to switch to walking and bikes, while a 2018 study by Kings College, London found they improve air quality and life expectancy.

Mr Lingwood added: "We understand that for many residents, LTNs can be disruptive and controversial, particularly in the short term."

He cited a successful example of one of the schemes, rolled out in Walthamstow in London.

He said: "Waltham Forest found that traffic was the key factor in residents’ perception of the quality of their streets with too much traffic the key complaint (50 per cent of responses) and less traffic, less noise and safer roads the key benefits (80 per cent of responses) of the LTN."

In Oxford however, the debate over LTNs rages on.

Oxford Mail:

The Low Traffic Neighbourhoods planned in three areas of Cowley. Picture: OLS

Just last week, 60 donors raised £3,815 for a professional case to create a new Jericho and Walton Manjor LTN.

But a survey by the Jericho traders association found that many businesses and residents were unhappy with plans to pedestrianise part of Walton Street.

Read all about that survey and the traders 'speaking out' here

And in Cowley, communities have been divided about the effects on traffic caused by plans for new LTNs there.

Another LTN could also be on the cards for Headington, if Oxfordshire's bid for £2.4m Government transport cash is successful this month.

The council had expected to hear from the Department for Transport whether it had won the funding by now, but no announcement has yet been made.

New LTNs in London have created bitter divisions in communities, with one in Wandsworth recently scrapped after only a few weeks because of local outrage.