An important level crossing access route for motorists could soon be closed after a surge in rail freight transfers.

District councillor for Kidlington West, Dorothy Walker, said it is “practically set in stone” that Network Rail will close the Sandy Lane crossing which links Yarnton and Kidlington, north of Oxford.

This is one of three level crossings, including Tackley and Yarnton, that the rail company said it is aiming to close by the end of 2024.

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The Sandy Lane crossing allows vehicle access into Kidlington from Yarnton without using the dual carriageways, a journey many people make to easily access important services.

Oxford Mail: The Sandy Lane crossing The Sandy Lane crossing

Drivers who want to move between the two villages would have to use the A44 or A4260, roads which Ms Walker said already experience “frequent congestion”.

MP for Oxford West and Abingdon Layla Moran said: “Maintaining vehicle connectivity between the two settlements of Yarnton and Kidlington is critical.

“People living in Yarnton need to be able to easily get to and from schools, supermarkets, medical services, leisure facilities, care homes and churches.”

Oxford Mail: MP Layla Moran MP Layla Moran The closure considerations come at a time of major housing growth around Kidlington.

This includes 3,000 houses that have been designated in Begbroke and Yarnton, the £700, “innovation and business district” Oxford North, and the potential new Oxford United Stadium.

Cherwell District Council has also approved 370 homes off Bicester Road, to the east of Kidlington, and 118 homes off Oxford Road, to the south.

Ms Moran added: “The push to deliver Oxford’s unmet housing need continues to impact upon villages and settlements outside the city.

“Villagers in Yarnton, Begbroke and Kidlington regularly complain about its negative impacts, including growing traffic congestion, slower journey times, poorer air quality, crowded buses and pressure on GPs.”

In similarly frustrated tones, district councillors representing Kidlington West spoke out against the potential closure.

Ms Walker said: “It seems incredible that, confronted with ever-mounting congestion on our road network, we are contemplating the closure of this vital inter-village road.”

District councillor Lesley McLean added: “While planners have proposed some mitigations for journeys in and out of Oxford, they must also recognise that connectivity between Begbroke, Yarnton and Kidlington is extremely important for our residents and businesses.”

A third Kidlington councillor, Jean Conway, had environmental concerns.

She said: “Pushing the current 2,000 plus vehicles movements on Sandy Lane onto the longer, slower A44 or A4260 routes will equate to an extra 1.5 million car miles per year, generating a substantial increase in emissions.”

Oxfordshire County Council said it is keen to engage with Network Rail over what alternative arrangements it is planning for dealing with traffic in the area.

A Network Rail spokesperson said: "Following our public consultation earlier this year, we continue to work on our plans to close the level crossings at Tackley, Sandy Lane and Yarnton and replace them with alternative ways of crossing the railway.”

Cherwell District Council has been contacted for comment.


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This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

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